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Comparing the Narrative Technique in Wuthering Heights and T
Transcript of Comparing the Narrative Technique in Wuthering Heights and T
The Great Gatsby
Lockwood and Carraway
In both Wuthering Heights and The Great Gatsby, the authors use a first person peripheral narrator since neither Mr Lockwood or Nick Carraway have primary involvement in the narrative. We are told the story from an observer looking in.
Lockwood as a Narrator
Lockwood's narrative is through the format of a diary which brings the reader closer to the action as he presents it as he sees it. Through Lockwood's actions, Bronte creates subtle changes in details of his perspective which in turn, adapt situations and characters in the reader's perspective. For example...
Carraway's changing perspectives
Like Lockwood, Nick Carraway's perspectives also change throughout
The Great Gatsby
through his contact with Gatsby in progressing his experience. Similar to the characters in Wuthering Heights, only the narrator's perspective change of the character, rather than themselves.
Fitzgerald provides evidence of this through the symbolic image that Carraway visualizes from Gatsby's house, like the gates to Wuthering Heights.
The Great Gatsby
Nick Carraway like Lockwood is used as a witness to events and provides judgement on characters which are inflicted on the reader. Differently to Lockwood, Carraway is also involved with each character, he is:
Tom's college class mate
Lover of Jordan
This ties him between characters enabling him to contradict his feelings when he is with different characters- therefore providing a mixed analysis of events for the reader because he is involved in every situation (he can't be biased).
The "Double Lens" Narrator
This contributes to the reader's perspective of the Earnshaw, Linton and Heathcliff families.
Lockwoods's perspective filtered from Nelly's recount
Nelly's version events through her memory
Emily Bronte creates two main narrators in the novel- Mr Lockwood and "Nelly" Dean. Lockwood serves as the primary narrator who obtains his source of information through Nelly. This may present a biased account of the families as the reader creates their individual image through a "double lens."
I interpret that Lockwood and Carraway are also similar in the way the author has named them. The word 'Lockwood' presents the idea of unlocking the secrets at Wuthering Heights/Thrushcross Grange, and 'Carraway' visualizes the word 'carrying', which links to how Nick Carraway carries the narrative without being involved. Both revolve around conveying more of the novel.
However, due to Bronte's technique of including huge amounts of dialogue within Nelly's recount, the reader has a sense of a more established understanding of these characters over the narrators themselves. This may be a result of Nelly's religious and moral sentiments as a servant which restrict her from the emotional understanding where as the reader doesn't lack this ability.
A change in how Lockwood sees the property is noted differently in the beginning and end.
In the initial visit to Wuthering Heights, Lockwood comments on the "chained" gate.
On his return after Heathcliff's death, he observes that "Both doors and lattices were open."
The "chained" gate provides unauthorized connotations for the reader, which gives the perspective that the property is a remote, isolated, negative place to be. However this is shown through Lockwood that by the end of the novel, the property is presented as inviting and welcoming which changes the reader's image of what was an old, haunted house and shows that it was the inhabitants which painted this first representation of Wuthering Heights.
Change in characters are also depicted through the way Lockwood observes them in the beginning and end chapters.
Cathy, once "the little witch", is then described by Lockwood as having "a voice as sweet as a silver bell".
And Hareton, by the end has become a "young man respectably dressed" as well as having "handsome features" opposed to being the "boor" and "clown" which Lockwood previously portrayed him.
The use of sibilance, "sweet" and "silver", provides a softer sound to imply that Lockwood now has sympathy for Cathy in contrast to the harsh 'tch' sound from "witch" to exaggerate his ambivalence towards her. Silver has connotations of worth and value, which suggests that Lockwood may now see young Cathy as a precious artifact/proof to the history that Nelly has revealed to him- sharing this feeling with the reader too. He now values her because the narrator himself has progressed with his understanding.
With both Cathy and Hareton, nothing has changed except Lockwood's perspective of them, which proves that the reader follows how a narrator visualizes a character rather than a true image for themselves.
In the beginning, Gatsby's house is described by Carraway as "a factual imitation of some Hotel de Ville in Normandy, with a tower on one side"
This is showing how Carraway imagines Gatsby as a wealthy, luxurious man mirroring his property like the "chained" gate shows that Heathcliff is defensive with great ownership. Carraway shows that he himself has a lower status than Gatsby but the author may be hinting through the 'factual imitation' that Carraway narrates, is a significant sign to show the lack of trust which surrounds Gatsby at the time.
Similarly, both narrators are ambivalent towards the protagonist, which can ask the reader: Are these narrators reliable in portraying a realistic perspective of Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights and Jay Gatsby from The Great Gatsby?
Before Gatsby's reunion with Daisy, the house is described by Carraway as "blazing". This is whilst Gatsby is "glancing into some of the rooms".
Through Carraway's observations, they identify how Gatsby is admiring his American Dream at its peak from watching his house, (he is just about to meet with the person he loves- and this is obtained in Gatsby's opinion through property status- similar to Heathcliff's process in order to obtain the one he loved. Carraway's vision of "blazing" suggests negative connotations which could be mirroring that the house/american dream is going to be problematic.
After the contact with Daisy, Carraway observes that the "enchantment" and magic quality has been lost, which informs the reader that the American Dream represented through the property is fading.
Nelly Dean as a Narrator
Providing the inner frame of the story from past to present tense, Nelly has the ability to depart from the chronological structure. She tells the narrative in a "true gossip's fashion" which could imply that she has a chatty style and refers to all the actions happening.
A problem we face as readers is that she explains to Lockwood that, "You could not open a book in this library that I have not looked into."
Bronte may be showing by adding this detail that Nelly is interested in fiction which could be suggesting that some of her speculations are from novels themselves. In her story she tells young Heathcliff, "Who knows but your father was Emperor of China, and your mother an Indian queen...." showing that she had an imagination of her own.
Having Carraway outside the story enables the reader to look at the effects before and after Gatsby's death. Without this first person narrative, the reader wouldn't be aware of the contrast of this event as Carraway is the witness to both the flashy parties and desolate atmosphere surrounding his funeral.