How does the author give reality to Lockwood's fantastic dream in Wuthering Heights?
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Lockwood's dream of wrestling with Joseph and feeling rushed by the assembly who wielded their staves reduces itself to the mere branches of a fir-tree that rubs against the lattice of the window. However, as he becomes drowsy again, Lockwood is well aware of the snow and the gusting wind and the bough of the fir tree rubbing the lattice; so, he resolves to break the bough and stop the noise. When he attempts to open the casement, the window will not open. So, he breaks a pane of the glass, and he stretches out his arm in order to grasp the branch. As he does so, however, Lockwood states, "my fingers closed on the fingers of a little ice-cold hand!" And, when he attempts to pull back his hand, the icy hand clings to him and a "melancholy" voice begs him, "Let me in--let me in!" To this, Lockwood demands to know who speaks, and the voice replies with shivering sounds, "Catherine Linton. I'm come home. I'd lost my way on the moor!" (Lockwood wonders why he hears "Linton" when he has read Earnshaw so many times.)
Seeing a mere child's face, Lockwood pulls the arm to him, dragging it across the broken pane, causing the arm to bleed. He tells the spirit it must release its hold on him if he is to let her in; when she does so, he quickly pulls his arm back and closes up the hole with books.
Thereat began a feeble scratching outside, and the pile of books moved as if thrust forward.
Lockwood yells and Heathcliff responds, but does not seem shocked at what Lockwood tells him. After Lockwood leaves the room, he witnesses Heathcliff throw open the window, and cry out,
"Come in! come in!...Cathy do come. Oh do--once more! Oh! my heart's darling ! Hear me this time, Catherine, at last!"
From these words and the apparent lack of shock at Lockwood's recounting of his dream, a certain reality is given to this supernatural experience.
The dream that Lockwood experiences in Chapter 3 of this novel is made more real through the way in which what Lockwood has just been reading about in Cathy's diary and what happens in his dream intersect. What adds particularly to the reality of the dream is the way in which this final section of the dream is introduced. What happens before in Lockwood's dream sequence, with Jabes and the seventy-first sin, is a classic example of a dream that is obviously not real. However, the final dream sequence, with the spirit of Cathy, is introduced very differently and there is an obvious blurring of the boundaries between reality and fantasy:
This time, I remembered I was lying in the oak closet, and I heard distinctly the gusty wind, and the driving of the snow; I heard, also, the fir-bough repeat its teasing sound, and ascribed it to the right cause: but, it annoyed me so much, that I resolved to silence it, if possible...
What adds reality to this section of the dream therefore is the way that it is in many ways undistinguishable from reality. Lockwood has just had a fantastical dream, and now it appears both he and the reader are unsure about whether what he is experiencing is real or not. There is nothing supernatural in this introduction, merely the natural sounds of the elements outside. It is only when the ghost appears that the dream becomes more fantastical.
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