In Wuthering Heights, Lockwood and Nelly are complementary narrators. They are foils in nearly every way.
- Lockwood; Nelly
- male; female
- stuffy (formal) style; plain (informal, intimate) style
- Gothic style; Romantic style
- outside narrator; inside narrator
- upper-class; lower-class
- unbiased; biased
- afraid of Heathcliff; sympathetic toward Heathcliff
Lockwood is an outside frame narrator. As he is a stranger to Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange, he is like the reader at the beginning: uniformed. He sets up the Gothic exposition, describing the dark, brooding atmosphere of the setting. It must be a strange who first describes Heathcliff. Lockwood must be intimated by the menacing figure, as we are. In terms of social status, Lockwood reveals an upper-class, privileged mentality.
Later, Nelly will take over his frame story. She will be the inside narrator, a surrogate member of the family who knows Heathcliff since his first arrival there. She is a mother-figure, even a jealous lover. She is biased and sympathetic to Heathcliff, and she casts the other females who compete for Heathcliff's affections in a rather negative light. As a servant, Nelly is much lower in class than Lockwood, and she cides with Heathcliff in terms of class because he was also a member of the low class who raises status and takes the estates from the upper class.
Enotes also has this to add:
Lockwood is used to open and end the novel in the present tense, first person ("I"). When he returns to Thrushcross Grange from his visit to Wuthering Heights sick and curious, Nelly cheerfully agrees to tell him about his neighbors. She picks up the narrative and continues it, also in the first person, almost until the end, with only brief interruptions by Lockwood. The critic David Daiches notes in his introduction of Wuthering Heights the "fascinating counterpoint" of "end retrospect and present impression," and that the strength of the story relies on Nelly's familiarity with the main characters.
In the book Wuthering Heights the author used Nelly and Lockwood to present the story o the reader. The story begins with a first person point of view as seen through Lockwood's eyes and ears. He has been trapped at Wuthering Heights due to bad weather and must stay overnight.
The writer then allows Nelly to share her personal experiences of having lived as a caregiver in the family since Katherine was a very little girl. We have an eve more personal point-of-view as she shares the intimate details of her relationship with the characters and how their behaviors resulted in the outcome of the present day. Nelly's language is a familiar language. It is more relaxed and affection driven.