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A Template to Understanding the Narrative Technique in Wuthering Heights

Jack Todhunter | Friday August 07, 2009

Categories: KS4, Narrative, Narrative Techniques, Prose, Wuthering Heights, Writing, Essays, Prose Analysis

By following this guide, students will be able to construct an argument based on Lockwood, the narrator of Wuthering Heights.

Lockwood, the narrator of Wuthering Heights is often dismissed as mere writing device. What do you think of him?

What do we know about Lockwood? His role as the ostensible narrator allows Bronte to include a GermanicRahmenerzahlung? approach to the piece. Simply stated, the novel Wuthering Heights is a “frame story?. One tale sits inside another like a picture sits in a frame. This type of narration was very popular in Gothic literature in the Nineteenth Century.

The outer “frame?, the tale of the tenant coming from the South of England to hire a holiday let in the wilds of untamed Yorkshire is both credible and entertaining. While at the Pensionnat Héger* in Brussels, in 1842, only five years before writing Wuthering Heights,  the author Emily Brontë learned French and German and analyzed the styles of classic writers in their original language. It is thus a fairly safe bet to assume she came across similar gothic settings and characters in her reading matter while in Belgium.

The notion of using a stranger to narrate the happenings of a visited setting is not entirely original. The framing device can be very productive. It allows the real author to distance him or herself from the work and allows the narrator to become a character in their own right.

In Lockwood’s case, his naivety is sometimes exploited to comic effect by Bronte. We are invited to laugh at him on several occasions. (Find examples)

  • What else do we know about Lockwood?
  • He is a southerner. (How might that fact effect the way he relates to the characters and the setting?)
  • He is on the run from a failed love affair (How might that impinge on his view of H and C?)
  • He makes one or two false assumptions or moves. (How do we readers respond to these gaffes of his?)
  • Heathcliff insults him. (How might that be rather beguiling for a...

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