How do the narrators of Wuthering Heights respond to the homes they describe and inhabit?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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It is clear that the central narrator, whose overarching narrative contains the various other levels of narration that are included in this novel, responds to the two central houses of Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange in the same way that the majority of the characters do. Even though he is an outsider and therefore hilariously fails to comprehend so much about the strange situation of the families who live in these locations, he still manages to pick up on certain aspects of these two houses that reflect their symbolic function. Consider, for example, how he describes Wuthering Heights and focuses on the exposed nature of its location:

'Wuthering' being a significant provincial adjective, descriptive of the atmospheric tumult to which its station is exposed in stormy weather. Pure, bracing ventilation they must have up there at all times, indeed: one may guess the power of the north wind blowing over the edge, by the excessive slant of a few stunted firs at the end of the house; and by a range of gaunt thorns all stretching their limbs one way, as if craving alms of the sun.

Lockwood points out the parallel in terms of the location of the house and the way that the elements must batter it to the way in which characters who dwell in this house are psychologically exposed and battered by various mental and emotional storms. This is something that is literally made manifest by the storm that descends on Wuthering Heights in Chapter Nine after Heathcliff leaves the house and the Moors.

By contrast, Thrushcross Grange, where Lockwood is living, is a much more protected and gentler place. It has significant grounds and a protective wall that literally seems to remove it and defend it from the atmospheric tumults in various forms that dominate Wuthering Heights and the exposed moors. As befitting a Gothic text, the two houses form a symbolic function.

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