I have just returned from a visit to my landlord—the solitary neighbour that I shall be troubled with. This is certainly a beautiful country! In all England, I do not believe that I could have fixed on a situation so completely removed from the stir of society. A perfect misanthropist’s heaven: and Mr. Heathcliff and I are such a suitable pair to divide the desolation between us. A capital fellow! He little imagined how my heart warmed towards him when I beheld his black eyes withdraw so suspiciously under their brows, as I rode up, and when his fingers sheltered themselves, with a jealous resolution, still further in his waistcoat, as I announced my name.
‘Mr. Heathcliff?’ I said. A nod was the answer. ‘Mr. Lockwood, your new tenant, sir. I do myself the honour of calling as soon as possible after my arrival, to express the hope that I have not inconvenienced you by my perseverance in soliciting the occupation of Thrushcross Grange: I heard yesterday you had had some thoughts—’ ‘Thrushcross Grange is my own, sir,’ he interrupted, wincing. ‘I should not allow any one to inconvenience me, if I could hinder it—walk in!’ The ‘walk in’ was uttered with closed teeth, and expressed the sentiment, ‘Go to the Deuce’: even the gate over which he leant manifested no sympathising movement to the words; and I think that circumstance determined me to accept the invitation: I felt interested in a man who seemed more exaggeratedly reserved than myself. Lockwood ‘shares’ the job of narrator in Wuthering Heights with Nelly Dean the housekeeper. Such a job share makes the novel at once elusive as neither narrator can understand the measure of what they witness. Nelly has jobs to do, and Lockwood is an arrogant yet naive visitor to the countryside, utterly unprepared for the relationships he meets there. These competing perspectives provide the two lenses through which we filter the narrative. When Lockwood catches a chill he listens to Nelly’s tale of Cathy and Heathcliff and and so do we, brilliantly enclosed within a story which travels across times and is subject to the many judgement and partialities of Nelly Dean In the opening above the elated complacency of Lockwood is captured in his stupid assumption that Heathcliff and he are as one.The smooth elegance of Lockwood’s worldly communication is sharply contrasted with the antagonistic surly responses of Heathcliff. Yet Lockwood sees Heathcliff’s behaviour as a pleasing challenge and sign of reserve! As we read the opening we notice the steady dis junction between Lockwood’s almost euphoric version of reality and the dark, barely concealed undertones of his landlord’s behaviours. it is this tension between the ostensibly civilized world view of the city character, Lockwood, with the barely concealed aggression of the ‘country side’and ‘nature’ as represented by Heathcliff( the clue is in the name) that generates the drive of the narrative. Lockwood’s lack of discrimination reveals his limitation and thus allows the gap between fantasy Heathcliff and reality to emerge. The incompatibility between narrator(s) and subject is a brilliant divide which preserves the distinct otherness of the novel. The grotesque otherness of Heathcliff and Cathy’s tale survives because they are observed with a perceptual bewilderment that renders them beyond the understanding of their narrators. This gives the reader more agency in our reading of their world as we try to fill the ‘gap’ between their narratorial readings and ‘reality’.
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