Explain the narrative technique of "Wuthering Heights."
Emily does not belong to the literary directions of that time, her novel making an exception from the literary movements of that time. The novel is constructed by a technique and a unique literary style that makes her narrative increasingly more compelling and more dynamic. The novel combines in a great way, gothic and fantastic elements.
Narrative technique is a non-linear one, with many "back in time" sequences of characters , and two characters that occupy the position of narrator: Mr. Lockwood and Nelly Deen. The novel is a fight for love, to survive, to forget the past and overcome the differences imposed by family and society. Love between Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw is the patron of all actions of the novel, a love unresolved and painful that destroys them and those around them,a love rarely presented in this way in universal literature.
There are two times of reference in the novel:
-a “present narrative”, which is the correspondent of the present time, when, after renting Thrushcross Grange, Lockwood ,gets to know Heathcliff and asks Nelly Dean to tell about him the entire story.
-a “past narrative”, which is the correspondent of the past time, when the story narrated by Nelly Dean happened.
The reference time balances between present and past with an exciting ease.
The narrative technique used far from being easy to analyse. But, it is the best manner that an author could use when the readers has to be involved inside the story.
At a first sight, this technique could be a little bit restrictive, without the presence of a narrator to give informations and explanations about characters' feelings,but it was proved to be the best way to invlove the readers, in the core of the story,asking their imagination to work.
The first person method of narration is the technique by which a novelist employs one character to tell the story. The readers read the story from the perspective of this narrator.
The first person method of narration, can be either 'written' as for instance Emily Bronte's "Wuthering Heights" or spoken like Hemingway's "A Farewell to Arms."
The events can be narrated by the first person narrator either using the 'present tense' or the 'past tense.'
The first person narrator can be a participant in the events of the story he narrates or he can be 'outside' that is, he can narrate events in which he was not involved.
There are three narrative levels in "Wuthering Heights"
1. Primary: The dates 1801 and 1802 in Chs 1 and 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 person to whom the story is told]. 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. Nelly Dean begins telling the story in Ch. 4: "before I came to live here, she commenced." 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 (Ch11) 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 Chs. 6 and 33; Isabella's letter in Ch13 which is read out aloud to Lockwood thus, combining the written and the oral method; Isabella's oral account in Ch17 ; younger Cathy Linton's oral account in Ch24; and Zillah's oral account in Ch30.
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."
The way Wuthering Heights was delivered would be in a way that I would say " If the fly on the wall could speak and have an interview" type way. The story is given to us in the form of Mr. Lockwood's diary but the story is told to him through the maid, Nelly. Nelly would be to be the fly on the wall and Lockwood would be the interviewee. It is almost as if the story was conveyed to Lockwood and we see it through his interpretation as the situations themselves have been interpreted by Nelly so it is almost like an inception of sorts.
Lockwood does address's himself in first person, since it is his journal, but the story of Heathcliff and Catherine are told in limited third person.