What techniques are used in Wuthering Heights to help us get to know the characters?My research is based around the treatment of women in traditional societies.

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Interesting question. You seem to be interested in the wider social context of the novel and in particular how women are presented, so I have included a link to the historical context of the novel below.

I will answer your question by referring to the first chapter of the book and also talking about the particular point of view of the narrative that the novel is written in. This is key to understanding any presentation of character in the novel.

Really, Wuthering Heights is a story within a story. At times, it is even a story within a story within a story. This is because we have a framing narrative that focuses on Lockwood. Lockwood narrates to us the whole story. But of course, most of the action is narrated to Lockwood who narrates it to us via Nelly Dean. And then, to complicate the narrative process further, other voices narrate their tale to Nelly who then relates it to Lockwood, for example Isabella when she tells Nelly how she escaped Wuthering Heights.

Understanding the different levels of narrative are key to understanding the presentation of characters. Lockwood is what we call an unreliable narrator. This means, because Lockwood is from the South and does not understand the culture of the Yorkshire moors, he continuously misinterprets those around him. Consider in the opening pages how Lockwood describes Heathcliff:

A perfect misanthropist´s Heaven: and Mr. Heathcliff and I are such a suitable pair to divide the desolation between us. A capital fellow!

Note too how Lockwood hilariously misinterprets the presence of the younger Catherine, trying to guess which of the males she is married to. Having characters presented in such a way means that we as readers need to study more carefully to pick up their true characteristics.

Read the study guide:
Wuthering Heights

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