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Wuthering Heights

            The strange, deliberately confusing opening chapters of Wuthering Heights serve as Bronte's introduction to the world of the novel and to the complex relationships among the characters, as well as to the peculiar style of narration through which the story will be told. One of the most important aspects of the novel is its second- and third-hand manner of narration. Nothing is ever related simply from the perspective of a single participant. Instead, the story is told through entries in Lockwood's diary, but Lockwood does not participate in the events he records. The vast majority of the novel represents Lockwood's written recollections of what he has learned from the testaments of others, whether he is transcribing what he recalls of Catherine's diary entry or recording his conversations with Nelly Dean. Because of the distance that this imposes between the reader and the story itself, it is extremely important to remember that nothing in the book is written from the perspective of an unbiased narrator, and it is often necessary to read between the lines in order to understand events.
             The reader can immediately question Lockwood's reliability as a conveyer of facts. A vain and somewhat shallow man, he frequently makes amusing mistakes "he assumes, for instance, that Heathcliff is a gentleman with a house full of servants, even though it is apparent to the reader that Heathcliff is a rough and cruel man with a house full of dogs. Nelly Dean is more knowledgeable about events, as she has participated in many of them first hand, yet while this makes her more trustworthy in some ways, it also makes her more biased in others. She frequently glosses over her own role in the story's developments, particularly when she has behaved badly. Later in the novel, she describes how she took the young Linton to live with his cruel father after the death of his mother. She lies to the boy on the journey, telling him that his father is a kind man, and, after his horrible meeting with Heathcliff, she tries to sneak out when he is not paying attention.

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