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

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herappleness's profile pic

M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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The two narrators of Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights are Lockwood and Nelly. Although Lockwood's account comes first, the record of what he sees takes place much later than Nelly's account, which occurs when the Earnshaws are at the height of their financial and social glory.

Nelly's description, therefore would be way more favorable than Lockwood's who sees Heathcliff living in a huge estate that, somehow, has been basically left to itself. This is, however, part of the Gothic element of the story: An isolated estate left basically in shambles due to the persistence of nostalgia and emptiness in the fate of one of the main characters.

Regardless, it would be best to analyze Nelly's account before Lockwood's because it will show the contrast between the estates before and after the advent of Heathcliff with his angst and hunger for revenge. Let's not forget that the two estates of Thrushcross and Wuthering are directly influenced by the energy that Heathcliff brings. Many scholars have considered the estates to be yet two more characters of the story, since they too become deeply affected by the plot but, most importantly, by Heathcliff.

In Chapter 6 we can see Nelly's description of Thrushcross Grange

"...ah! it was a beautiful--a splendid place carpeted with crimson, and crimson-covered chairs and tables, and a pure white ceiling bordered by gold, shower of glass-drops hanging in silver chains from the centre, and shimmering with little soft tapers."

Contrastingly, Lockwood sees a much different state of affairs where he enters and looks around him in Wuthering Heights

One step brought us into the family sitting-room, without any introductory lobby or passage: they call it here “the house” preëminently. It includes kitchen and parlour generally; but I believe at Wuthering Heights the kitchen is forced to retreat altogether into another quarter: at least I distinguished a chatter of tongues, and a clatter ofculinary utensils, deep within;

Not only were things barren but also the place resonates for its inactivity. This is quite a different story from the place where Catherine and Heathcliff first kindled their friendship

and I observed no signs of roasting, boiling, or baking, about the huge fireplace; nor any glitter of copper saucepans and tin cullenders on the walls. One end, indeed, reflected splendidly both light and heat from ranks of immense pewter dishes, interspersed with silver jugs and tankards, towering row after row, on a vast oak dresser, to the very roof.

Therefore, each narrator will experience two different visions of what they see because they came before and after the entrance of Heathcliff in the two residences.

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excellency | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Honors

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The narrators in wuthering heights responds to their habitats in ways that concentrate on the beings they have become. In other words the narrators present themselves as by-products of their homes in the following ways:

  • edgar linton is snobbish and as reserved as his sister. they are from the elegant Thrushcross Grange... which is in contrast to the less wealthy Wuthering heights.
  • at wuthering heights the inhabitants are as battered as the moors, their lives are secretive... they are not permitted to go beyond the gardens and they are as barren as the land that surrounds them: financially and socially.
  • catherines dreams of becoming a wealthy mistress by marrying linton shows that she demotes herself of the anti-social almost oppressive lifestyle at the heights.
  • heathcliff becomes a monsterous persona due to the treatment he received upon his persona. this is what caused him to be such a revengeful man.

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