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Wuthering Heights - The perspectives of Lockwood and Nellie

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Introduction

The Perspectives of Lockwood and Nellie The whole action in Wuthering Heights is presented to the reader in the form of the eyewitness accounts of Lockwood and Nellie. The narrative is complicated and interwoven because there is an intricate structure of time shifts. Lockwood provides the immediate narrative. This spans one year beginning in 1801 when he first meets Heathcliffe and ending in 1802 when he learns of the death of Heathcliffe. Nellie provides, through relating to Lockwood the back structure of the story. Nellie's back-story has a time span of 30 years. It begins in 1701 when she describes the arrival of Heathcliffe as a young boy and ends in 1802, the present day, as she recounts to Lockwood the death of Heathcliffe. Nellie's story is colourful and it is dramatically peppered with the smaller narratives of the other characters. The purpose of the narrative is to draw the reader into a position were we could judge the events from within much the same as Lockwood observes the "inner penetralium" of the Heights. We, like Lockwood find ourselves as the direct recipients of Nellie's narrative. We are immediately drawn into the dramatic lives of the characters. The background, the setting, the climate, the houses and the animals all take on a life of their own and images of past and present are flashed together like " a glare of white letters startled from the dark as vivid as spectres - the air swarming with Catherine's" (P32)1(footnote) Lockwood introduces the reader to Wuthering Heights and its occupants. ...read more.

Middle

Lockwood's role as detached observer brings a dimension to the novel that is quite different from the perceptions provided by Nellie. Nellie's style differs from Lockwood's. Her lively colloquial language brings the character's alive for the reader. Both Nellie and Lockwood facilitate the means in which the reader can enter the vivid world of Wuthering Heights. Nellie takes up the account in chapter 4 and Lockwood reacts to her narrative as a fantastic romance unconnected to his own life. Due to his inadequate dealings with the opposite sex, Lockwood cannot relate his own rational experiences with that of the passionate lives of the protagonists. However he admits that "Nellie is on the whole a fair narrator and I do not think I could improve on her style"(p139) Her narrative has not only drawn Lockwood, and the reader, into the story but into the lives of the characters. She describes the events not only with extraordinary detail but also with breathless energy and rapid excitement. " It did not need the medium of a flogging to produce that effect on the master. He tried to wrest the key from Catherine's grasp, and for safety she flung it into the fire; Whereupon Mr Edgar was taken with nervous trembling, and his countenance grew deadly pale. For his life he could not avert that excess of emotion; mingled anguish and humiliation over-came him completely. He leant on the back of the chair, and covered his face" (p108) From this quote we are not only drawn into the physical sensations of the action, but we can also feel Edgar's "deadly pale" anguish and "nervous trembling" The language is direct, active and energetic. ...read more.

Conclusion

The ending of the novel comes full circle. Lockwood returns to the Heights and Nellie brings the story into the present. Heathcliffe is dead. Catherine and Hareton are to be married leaving the Heights for the Grange. Lockwood's shrewd eye immediately notices the difference in the atmosphere upon his approach to the Heights. The door is unlocked and this he notes "is an improvement" He goes on to notice further improvements "by the aid of my nostrils: a fragrance of stocks and wallflowers wafted on the air from amongst homely fruit trees." (p255) As Lockwood records his impressions we are aware that he has not changed. He again reveals his inadequacy and inexperience with the opposite sex. "I could have bit my lip in spite, at having thrown away the chance I might have had of doing something besides smiling at its beauty"(p256) He then rather cowardly "skulked round to seek refuge in the kitchen" Despite his knowledge of the inhabitants of the Heights Lockwood remains the outsider. The ending is left open to interpretation and is ambiguous. Does the novel end happily? In one sense it does as Catherine and Hareton have found happiness with each other. They found it in a cultured way and move from wild uncivilised Heights to the rich and affluent Grange. The evidence from the locals indicates that Catherine and Heathcliffe have found happiness in the spirit world. Joseph claims to have witnessed both Catherine and Heathcliffe "looking out of his chamber window". In addition, a distressed Shepard boy recounts to Nellie "there's Heathcliffe and a woman, yonder, under t' nab,"(p278) Even Lockwood entertains the idea of the Heights being inhabited by ghosts. ...read more.

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