In Wuthering Heights, why do Heathcliff's dogs turn against Lockwood?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The amusing first chapter of this classic details the way in which Lockwood, as a southerner and therefore not used to the northern culture and life, misinterprets so much of what he sees in the house of Heathcliff, his landlord, and often with hilarious consequences. The dogs in Wuthering Heights turn on him when Lockwood ignores the advice he is given by Heathcliff and provokes the dogs by making faces at them. Note how the text describes this event:

Not anxious to come in contact with their fangs, I sat still; but, imagining they would scarcely understand tacit insults, I unfortunately indulged in winking and making faces at the trio, and some turn of my physiognomy so irritated madam, that she suddenly broke into a fury and leapt on my knees. I flung her back, and hastened to interpose the table between us. This proceeding aroused the whole hive: half-a-dozen four-footed fiends, of various sizes and ages, issued from hidden dens to the common centre.

Thus we can see that Lockwood finds himself the unexpected quarry of the many dogs in Wuthering Heights because of his stupidity in provoking one of them with silly facial gestures. However, let us not forget the import of Lockwood's role in the first chapter. As our principal narrator, he is clearly shown to not understand the culture of the Moors, and therefore is shown to be distinctly unreliable.

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