What are the main narrative function of Nelly and Lockwood?
In ‘Wuthering Heights’ Emily Brontë uses a dual narration alongside a complex narrative structure of a story within a story within a story – Brontë is telling us the story of Lockwood (the first narrator), who then its recalling the story told to him by Nelly (the second narrator). Although complicated, Brontë’s use of the two narrators gives the reader alternate aspects of the story, shown by Nelly romanticising parts and having a connection with the characters (demonstrated by her retelling of Heathcliff putting his own hair into Catherine’s locket in Volume II Chapter II).
Whereas Lockwood function is to give facts, this is shown with his narration being the beginning and the end to the story, by introducing the novel the character is giving us a date and setting. One of the main narrative functions of Lockwood is to present this new world to the audience; the character is also entering the bewildering new world which is reflected by his naivety when entering Wuthering Heights.
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Brontë uses Lockwood to question the setting and to bring out the Gothic and grotesque around Wuthering Heights, shown by the assumption of Cathy having a basket full cats which then turns out to be “a heap of dead rabbits” suggesting appearances aren’t everything in ‘Wuthering Heights’ with darker thins lurking around.
This also presents Lockwood as naïve of his new surroundings leading to his narration revolving around finding to new information, which makes him a fitting narrator because it means the readers can also gain that information. However it could be said due to Lockwood misreading situations and mistaking social relationships (shown by “Mr Heathcliff and I are such a suitable pair to divide the desolation between us.”) he could be presented as an unreliable narrator. Another function of Lockwood’s narrative is to observe changes; this is due his main parts of narration being at the beginning of the novel and at the end.
In the beginning of the novel the character comments on the chained gates presenting it as not being very welcoming. However when Lockwood returns in 1802 (after the death of Heathcliff) he notices that “I had neither to climb the gate, nor to knock – it yielded to my hand.” showing a definite change in the environment, even stating that the fruit trees were “homely”. Therefore Brontë uses the character of Lockwood to present an outsider view of the settings, noticing changes which Nelly’s narration necessarily wouldn’t due to her involvement.
Nelly as a narrator main function is to bring us closer to the action. Nelly’s positions as servant at both houses in different points of the novel allows the readers understand the events which have taken place in the years previous to Lockwood’s arrival. Nelly’s narrative allows us as readers to experience the events first-hand, therefore gaining an understanding of characters and their relationships. Although does admit that “follow my story in true gossip’s fashion” suggesting that some events might be embellished for effect – such as Heathcliff throwing a knife at Isabella.
Overall Brontë’s gives the narrator of Nelly the function recalling the events/action from within, giving the readers a closer and at points more personal account of the events than say if the story was all told through character who only observed the lives. Another main function of Nelly is to bring the characters to life for us and for Lockwood. From a young age the character of Nelly is said to have grown up with Hindley and Catherine and later Heathcliff, therefore an insider’s view of events which contrasts with Lockwood’s narrative position.
Nelly’s narrative brings the characters by showing aspects of them which might have not been revealed, for example Nelly describes Catherine Earnshaw as “mischievous and wayward” suggesting that if Nelly wasn’t present we would’ve missed out large and key aspects of the characters. Overall Brontë uses Nelly to add depth to characters, shown especially with Heathcliff who tells Nelly some of his inner most feelings in chapter XV (Volume II) therefore presenting Nelly as an important character due to her function being vital for the readers to be able to connect with any of the characters.