In the novel "Wuthering Heights" by Emily Bronte, what is Lockwood's first reaction to Heathcliff?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"Wuthering Heights" opens with the new tenant, Mr. Lockwood, arriving on a tempestuous night at the home Heathcliff.  The location, Lockwood states, is

a perfect misanthopist's Heaven:  and Mr. Heathcliff and I are such a suitable pair to divide the desolation between us.

However, when Lockwood meets Heathcliff, he is stung by the hostility of the landlord.  Nonetheless, he is intrigued by this "more exaggeratedly reserved" man.  In accord with the owner, Lockwood finds the name "Wuthering"

being a significant provincial adjective, descriptive of the atmospheric tumult to which its station is exposed in stormy weather.

Insighfully, Lockwood observes his landlord,

a dark-skinned gipsy in aspect, ... rather slovenly, a handsome figure; and rather morose.

But, Lockwood comments that he know by instinct that Heathcliff's reserve springs from "an aversion to showy display of feeling."  Heathcliff is not naturally sociable; he "loves and hates equally under cover" and displays only an antisocial attitude.  Yet, Lockwood remarks that he may be hasty in his evaluation, wanting to attribute to Heathcliff some of his own characteristics.  In fact, as his stay continues, Mr. Lockwood is nearly bitten by Heathcliff's dogs, and, instead of apologizing for the "ruffianly" dogs, Heathcliff tells Lockwood that the dogs bother no one who does not "meddle" with things.  He even grins at Mr. Lockwood.  As they converse, Mr. Lockwood does find Heathcliff intelligent and he does venture to "volunteer" a visit the next day, but Heathcliff does not encourage this visit.  Surprised, the somewhat reclusive Lockwood concludes that he is much "more sociable" than Heathcliff.

These first mixed reactions of Mr. Lockwood regarding Heathcliff correspond well to the gothic elements of Bronte's novel.  For, there is a preternatural atmosphere to the home with "villianous old guns, primitive structures, ....and grotesque carvings." of a man of "underbred pride" who is surly and even cruel--a grotesque man in a grotesque setting.

udonbutterfly | Student

In the beginning Lockwood is kind of excited and anxious to meet the owner of Thrushcross Grange however this all changes with Heathcliff's brooding demeanor. Lockwood even says how a devilish dog must be the creation of his owner which is basically calling Heathcliff evil himself. Also there is the point where Lockwood becomes intimated because of Heathcliff attitude towards others.

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Wuthering Heights

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