Help me with a critical analysis of Wuthering Heights.

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kplhardison's profile pic

Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

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Writing a critical analysis of a novel is a complex and detailed process because all parts of a novel are to be included in the analysis. Points covered include but are not limited to point of view; narrative detail such as focalization; structure; for example whether it's chronological or in fragmented time; thematic issues; charactericzation; and plot. The eNotes format is not conducive to such detailed analysis but can start you on your way. Wuthering Heights has an interesting narrative focalization, so we'll address this.

The point of view is first person but the focalization of the narrative changes from time to time so that part of the narrative is focalized through Nelly Dean and part is focalized through Mr. Lockwood. For instance, Mr. Lockwood opens Chapter 1 with a record of his first lively interview with Heathcliff, his landlord as he had rented Thrushcross Grange for a time. Since Lockwood is speaking from first person, yet describing events form the past, an effect of--though clearly not the reality of--a limited third person narrative is created (the same holds true for Nelly Dean when she takes over in Chapter IV).

I have just returned from a visit to my landlord—the solitary neighbour .... Mr. Heathcliff and I are such a suitable pair to divide the desolation between us.  A capital fellow!  He little imagined how my heart warmed towards him ... as I announced my name.

‘Mr. Heathcliff?’ I said.

A nod was the answer.

‘Mr. Lockwood, your new tenant, sir. ..."

You can see from the excerpt that there is a combination of first person "I", "i have just returned ...," and third person "he/she," "He little imagined ..." as he narrates a past tense story of what he experienced. Nelly Dean begins narrating her remembrances of Wuthering Heights in Chapter IV while Lockwood sits dy the fire shivering. Her narrative begins with her taking over the first person narration to tell her recollections:

She [Mrs. Dean] returned presently, ... evidently pleased to find me [Lockwood] so companionable.

Before I came to live here, she commenced—waiting no farther invitation to her story—I was almost always at Wuthering Heights;

As you pursue an analysis of the other points, ask yourself questions about what Bronte does with language (e.g., diction, imagery, literary devices etc); what ideas she dramatizes (e.g., thematic elements, conflicts, philosophical perspective. etc); what figurative or word scheme devices Bronte employs (e.g., metaphor, symbolism, rhetorical devices, etc). Also look closely at the plot/conflict development and characterization.

lucey82's profile pic

lucey82 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

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A literary analysis should interpret a text. It appears that you might be having trouble interpreting the text. The link below provides step-by-step instructions on how to write a critical analysis.

Would it be possible for you to clarify your question. It would be helpful if you could provide which aspect of the novel you'd like to focus on.

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