The novel Wuthering Heights was written by a total unknown - a young girl called Emily Bronte who was one of the four children of a poor and hardworking clergyman, Patrick Bronte (alias "Prunty" in Irish!), who ministered to a wild and desolate parish high up on the Yorkshire moors of England, not too far from the mines. It was almost unheard of for a woman, let alone a young clergyman's daughter, to successfully publish a novel in those times. Emily was possibly the most rebellious of her family (2 sisters alive and 1 drunken dysfunctional brother whom she is said to have adored). People were shocked at the brutal honesty and violence and passion in the novel - decrying it as "coarse." They all had a tragic childhood (losing many dearly beloved family members to TB and a cherished mother to cancer). Some of the children got sick of TB when sent away to an inhumane boarding school. Their house was sparse and possibly unhealthy - their breakfast room overlooked the broken graves of the churchyard.
The children sought solace in each other's company and lived in a dream world of magic lands and battles which they wrote in little books made from torn-up sugar bags. Wuthering Heights tells the tale of a wild young girl and her "soul-mate" house mate who is brought home out of the dark and the unknown of the slums or mines. They grow up together and cannot be happy together - or apart! Each marries another and is eventually torn apart by revenge, jealousy or loneliness - and so are the lives of those they touch!
The story is told through the eyes of Mr Lockwood, a visitor to Wuthering Heights who is told the fascinating tale by Nelly Dean, the servant.
Her tale concerns the lives of Heathcliff, Catherine Earnshaw and her descendants, and the Linton family and their descendants.
Heathcliff was a wild gypsy child adopted by the Earnshaw family. He falls in love with Catherine Earnshaw. She loves him, but she rejects him for Edgar Linton, who has money and status. Heathcliff elopes with Isabella, Edgar's sister.
Heathcliff becomes wealthy and respected. He takes over Wuthering Heights (the Earnshaw family home) and Thrushcross Grange (the Linton family home) Heathcliff loves Catherine throughout the story, although he is driven to exact revenge as he cannot have her. He is buried next to her when he dies.
Emily Bronte is the author not the narrator. There are details about her life on the final link below if you require.
There are three narrative levels in Wuthering Heights:
1. Primary: The dates 1801 and 1802 in Ch. 1 and Ch. 32 clearly indicate that the entire novel is a written record of all the incidents narrated to Lockwood by Nelly Dean. He is thus both the primary narrator and the primary narattee. The method of narration is the first person past written method.
2. Secondary: Nelly Dean is the secondary narrator who narrates all the incidents to Lockwood. The method of narration is the first person past/present spoken method. Most of the incidents she narrates have already taken place, but when she reports the exact words of a character especially during an intensely emotional scene (Ch. 11) Emily Bronte creates the illusion that the incident is happening just then.
3. Tertiary: Some of the incidents are first narratred by the different characters first to Nelly the secondary narrator who in turn narrates them to Lockwood the primary narrator: Heathcliff's oral accounts in Ch. 6 and Ch. 33; Isabella's letter in Ch. 13 which is read out aloud to Lockwood thus, combining the written and the oral method; Isabella's oral account in Ch. 17 ; younger Cathy Linton's oral account in Ch. 24; and Zillah's oral account in Ch. 30.
A first person narrator is "unreliable." Emily Bronte has used "unreliable" first person narrators to deliberately mystify the shocking incidents in the novel: Catherine's diary entries in Ch. 3 are suggestive of incest, "we made . . . dresser."
Wuthering Heights is an intense romantic novel about the obsessive attraction that Catherine Earnshaw holds for her foster brother Heathcliff. The two as children are inseparable despite their defined differences. Catherine is a European child born and reared in Yorkshire. She is from a financially comfortable motherless family while Heathcliff is a gypsy pauper orphan with dark skin and features brought into the home by her father. However, both Heathcliff and Catherine possess an innate wildness in their nature that draws them to the moors. It is a tug of war and conflict as Catherine tries to become a member of a family that is sophisticated and kind in contrast to Heathcliff’s brooding and silent persona. Despite Catherine’s best effort to deny her need for Heathcliff she is like the moth drawn to the fire. Heathcliff in his intent to punish Catherine for her marriage to Edgar Linton destroys the one person whose existence completes him. In the end he is driven mad by his own guilt and grief.
Emily Bronson wrote the novel Wuthering Heights. The story is narrated by the character Lockwood, one of Mr. Heathcliff’s renters, and by Nelly, the house servant who was a part of the children’s household. The narration is split between male and female. The entire story demonstrates a struggle between the will of a female character and a male character so it is only fitting that there are dual narrators. By using the narrators as story tellers, Bronte allows the story to unfold in pieces leaving the reader anxious for more details to be disclosed each time the narrators sit by the fire to talk.