Emily Bronte, the author of Wuthering Heights wrote this book setting the scene in 1801 on a cold winter evening. It’s written in present tense and is narrated by the main characters; Mr Lockwood a tenant at Thurshcross Grange and Nelly Dean, the housekeeper of Thurshcross Grange. Chapter one introduces the characters Mr Heathcliff, Joseph, Cathy and Mr Lockwood himself. He is currently visiting Yorkshire and is therefore staying at Thurshcross Grange his landlord is Mr Heathcliff who lives at Wuthering Heights.
Mr Lockwood pays a visit to him and his family where he comes across Joseph, the servant and Cathy whom is the daughter-in-law of Mr Healthcliff. Bronte introduces the characters in different forms. This makes the novel confusing however we soon establish that Bronte writes in this format so the suspension remains throughout the story. Chapter two gives us a better insight of the family, clearing up the confusion. We discover who Cathy actually is as she comes across as Mr Heathcliffs wife in chapter one we also discover that Cathy actually had a husband, Linton Heathcliff who died.
Also in chapter two, the description of the house is revealed and the setting and the kind of atmosphere which is expected from such a household. The speech of Joseph is phonetic; he has an unusual dialect unlike Mr Lockwood whose dialect portrays a very educated man. Reading josephs dialogue is difficult as its written phonetically. “whet are ye for? … T maister’s dahn I’ t’ fowld. Goa rahnd by th’ end ut’ laith, if yah went tuh spake tull him. ” Whereas the vocabulary used by Mr Lockwood is very complex and by first impressions it seems as though Mr Heathcliff is intimidated by this but reading on we soon determine his character.
The setting is light cold snow which turns into a blizzard, in which Lockwood is unable to return to Thurshcross Grange. Mr Healthcliff makes it very clear that he is unwelcome despite the many attempts and obvious hints he makes to accept him for the night. “As to staying here, I don’t keep accommodations for visitors: you must share a bed with Hareton or Joseph, if you do” Lockwood however manages to obtain a room to spend the night in. Zillah the housekeeper who we are now introduced to shows him the way. The night then continues through chapter three where Lockwood has a terrifying experience.
The chapter begins quite fearful as Zillah leads Lockwood to a forbidden room. Lockwood is unaware until Zillah informs him. As he begins to settle into the ghostly room he embarks upon the window ledge which is engraved with the name Catherine in a number of manifestations. “Catherine Earnshaw, Catherine Linton and Catherine Heathcliff” As Lockwood begins to fall asleep he reads some sort of diary which seems to be composed by Catherine herself. Lockwood falls asleep while reading and experiences two frightful nightmares.
One of those was extremely life like, where Lockwood believed he saw Catherine and couldn’t get to her. This is a very gothic atmosphere and theme to the novel. Heathcliff shortly appears as he hears Lockwood’s scream who apologises for disturbing him. Lockwood then returns to Thurshcross Grange and is welcomed by the housekeeper Nelly Dean. Chapter four, where the story now begins to get interesting and more focused. Curious of the event that had occurred Lockwood confides in Nelly and begins to ask questions to clear up his knowledge of the family living at Wuthering Heights.
Nelly now has a narrative position as she begins to reveal the history of Catherine and Heathcliff and the relationships within the family. We are also introduced to another two characters; Mr Earnshaw, Catherine’s father and Hindly, Catherine’s brother. Nelly basically explains that Heathcliff and Catherine didn’t get along to begin with but finally become civil friends. Whereas Hindly treats Heathcliff with no respect in which Hindly got beaten up. As a result of this Heathcliff became oblivious to the emotional needs of others.
This chapter is only a vague introduction into the lives of those at Wuthering Heights. The language used by the characters is very different as already mentioned. The lexis differs depending on whom is speaking. Joseph as mentioned has a phonological dialect and is very distinctive compared to the others because of this. Mr Lockwood on the other hand is very educated and portrays this in the use of his vocabulary which is very complex and some words are possibly unknown which can make it difficult to understand him whereas josephs is difficult to read let alone understand.
Nelly Dean seems to use Standard English fluently. The syntax may come across as unusual, this is because the story is set and written in completely different centuries. I found reading the first four chapters was very confusing and needed a lot of focus. It did however create a magnificent setting and explained the complex family very well. Without the introduction like this we wouldn’t have been so curious and fascinated with the unusual family of Wuthering Heights. We are also left at the end of chapter four with suspense and excitement as Nelly only briefly introduces the characters.
I believe that Emily’s intentions were to set the scene as well as she could and introduce as many characters in a style that will associate well with the themes of the novel itself, keeping readers attention captured as she twists the story and as we read along we realise how unpredictable the story is which keeps us more entertained as we want to know what happens next. Emily not also introduces the present characters but also those that have died. Which divides the present and past and because of the interest of the past characters by Lockwood and his un answered questions, we then too begin to question the novel.
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