Home » A ‘narrative’ in Emily Bronte’s novel ‘Wuthering Heights’

A ‘narrative’ in Emily Bronte’s novel ‘Wuthering Heights’

According to the dictionary ‘narrative’ means ‘A narrated account; telling a story’. A ‘narrative’ is used in Emily Bronte’s critically acclaimed novel ‘Wuthering Heights’. From the outset we learn of our narrator, Lockwood. Lockwood is an urban, middle class gentleman, the stereotypical male of the time. We receive narrative from him alone for the first three chapters of the novel. This essay will investigate into the effectiveness of the narrative technique employed by Emily Bronte for the first three chapters of the novel. So what makes a good narrative?

Firstly it should be unnoticeable to the reader, letting the story line unfold naturally. However Lockwood is far from being unnoticeable, in fact for the majority of the time he is, bluntly put, annoying. For instance he uses ridiculously over exaggerated language. An example of this is the fourth line of the very first chapter where Lockwood says ‘A perfect misanthropist’s Heaven – and Mr Heathcliff and I are such a suitable pair to divide the desolation between us’. Yet, although needless and blatant, it draws the reader as a result to almost laugh at Lockwood if nothing else.

Lockwood is the outsider, coming into a world in which he finds scary and hostile, he’s a your average gentleman of the time who has stumbled on a primitive uncivilised world which he doesn’t understand, but which fascinates him. In the novel Lockwood presents the situation as he sees it, the reader is thus brought closer to the action, seeing it through the eyes of the narrator himself. The presence of Lockwood in the book allows the author the author to begin the story near the end and work backwards and forwards in time with little difficulty.

The opening three chapters of the book are narrated by Lockwood and provide the reader with their introduction to this early 19th century world. The format of Lockwood’s narrative is that of a personal diary, which allows the development for the reader of an easy intimacy with an impartial character whose style – self-conscious, a little affected and quite rude is nicely worked to make us feel sympathy, while allowing ground for the reader to be highly amused, and/or even annoyed, at the narrators expense.

As the narrator is an unreliable one, it means that the reader has to look deeper between the lines as Lockwood’s judgement is clouded and the way he is portrayed he is not to be trusted. With all his limitations, Lockwood is occasionally intelligent and perceptive and his precise detailed descriptions are used by his creator to create subtle changes in situation and character, an example of this is that when Lockwood first visited Wuthering Heights, he commented on the chained gate, adding to the outsider status he possesses.

Lockwood uses a highly pointless educated vocabulary marked by detailed description and, at times perceptive, and at others obvious, observation and comment, both on situation and character. An example of this is his description of Hareton “Meanwhile, the young man had slung onto his person a decidedly shabby upper garment, and, erecting himself before the blaze, looked down on me from the corner of his eyes, for all the world as if there was some mortal feud unavenged still between us. I began to doubt whether he was a servant or not… is bearing was free, almost haughty and he showed none of a domestic’s assiduity in attending to the lady of the house. ” Whoever he meets and interects with he considers himself of a higher status. Lockwood’s sentences are often complex consisting of a number of clauses or long phrases, frequently separated by hyphens or semi-colons, examples, “he probably swayed by the presidential considerations of the folly of offending a good tenant – released a little in the laconic style of chipping of his pronouns and auxiliary and introducing what he supposed would be a subject of interest to me.

Another aspect of Lockwood’s style is his use of words of Latin origin, e. g. prudential, laconic, auxiliary yet again to almost prove he is, intelligence wise, above other characters and even the reader. By the end of Chapter three, Lockwood’s style has become more complex in that his sentence structure is complicated employing high usage of the semi-colon and comma, to give the impression of a narrator whose command of language is sophisticated. My human fixture and her satellites, rushed to welcome me; explaining tumultuously, they had completely given me up; everybody conjectured (guessed) that I perished last night; and they were wondering how they must set about the search for my remains. So why does Lockwood fall quiet after only three chapters? Put simply, he has simply outstayed his welcome and has served his purpose to the novel. That being he has introduced the main characters in some shape or form.

He has also drawn the reader into the novel due to the fact that he mixes rare moments of intelligence with heavy unreliabilty requiring the reader to delve further into the novel. So to conclude – exactly how effective is the narrative technique employed? Well, the narrative of the chapters in question center soully on Lockwood so the question should be more like ‘How Does Lockwood’s Character Affect The Novel? ‘.

As Lockwood is highly unreliable it draws the reader to read into the story in more detail which, in the following three chapters, is highly important due to the complexity of the storyline. If the narrator at these early stages was reliable it would leave the reader becoming lost in the heavy developments in the following chapters. So due to this fact and the fact that Lockwood is a character in his own right, not just a narrator, the narrative technique employed is a highly effective one.

Cite This Work

To export a reference to this essay please select a referencing style below:

Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.

Leave a Comment