Different Narrative Voices: Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

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Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights is deemed a complex novel, with its wide ranging themes of love, betrayal, suffering and imprisonment. It contains all the elements of a Gothic novel in nature but with the added ingredient of realism, but it is not just this blending of Gothic with realism that makes the novel so multifaceted, it is also Brontë’s use of multiple narrators that adds to the complexities of this novel. And it is the resulting effect of the different narrative voices in Wuthering Heights that this essay seeks to discuss. There are two distinct narrative voices in Wuthering Heights, that of Mr Lockwood and Nelly Dean, but within the novel we also encounter tertiary narratives from Catherine Earnshaw, Isabella and Zillah. The …show more content…
This multi-layered narrative is akin to Russian nesting dolls, wherein a story is nestled within a story. Each layer, each individual narrative, opens out from its parent to present the reader with a new viewpoint, constantly changing our perception and creating uncertainty. As Da Sousa Correa explains ‘the narrative and generic complexities of the novel, such as borrowings from a range of genres and its multiple narrators, which work in opposition to the novel’s structural coherence and can often create uncertainty and disorientation in the reader’ (Correa, 2012, pg.374). However despite the obvious drawback in using multiple narrators, this narrative technique is necessary to help sustain the story as we constantly jump between the past and present. It also facilitates in pulling the reader into the story, they become an observer to the events each narrator participates in. But what is the effect of this narrative approach and how do these individual narratives contribute to this unfolding story?
When we examine Lockwood we discover he is an outsider, he views the inhabitants of Wuthering Heights as foreign in regards to how they live, talk and convey themselves. He is not at home in the Yorkshire moors so in a way he is representative of Brontë’s readership through ‘geographical and class location’ (Correa, 2012, pg.366), his character personifies the novels reader. Lockwood’s first person narrative engages in both direct speech and indirect

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