The first chapter of Wuthering Heights is largely introductory, establishing the time (1801) and place (Wuthering Heights, on the Pennine moors of England). Upon starting the book, I was more than a little confused by the choice of narrator. From what I had heard about the book, I was expecting something more to the tune of Pride and Prejudice, but instead, the narration style of The Great Gatsby is what greeted me. Admittedly, I can’t remember whether or not Nick told Gatsby’s story through a therapist, as he did in the movie, but it is clear to me (due to my own impression and a quick google search to make certain) that our narrator Mr. Lockwood tells the story of Wuthering Heights through writings in his journal.
At first, I was a little aggravated by the choice of narrator because I picked the book in anticipation of a lot of drama and could not see how someone on the outside (that is, not Heathcliff or Catherine) could deliver on the theatrics I had come to expect. But the more I read Wuthering Heights and consider F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic, the more I can understand why an objective narrator is the best choice (as is true with most novels chronicling some corrupt moral predicament).
Once I accepted the perspective (and reread the first chapter), I really liked Lockwood from as early as the first page for little reason other than his apparent dimwittedness and lack of social grace. In the very first sentence, his ineptitude rears its ugly head. Lockwood writes that Heathcliff is “the solitary neighbor that [he] shall be troubled with,” but it is not long before anyone reading this novel can see that it is our dear narrator who will be troubling Heathcliff. This is only one of several times his journal directly juxtaposes the truth. I even laughed when he said “[he] felt interested in a man who seemed more exaggeratedly reserved than [himself]” because, even though I have only just begun the book, Lockwood has shown that he is anything but reserved, let alone “exaggeratedly” so (9).
Despite Heathcliff’s wish that there would be “no repetition of [his] intrusion,” Lockwood finds himself traveling to Wuthering Heights once again, this time meeting some new family members of vague association (13). I myself still don’t know how exactly Heathcliff, Catherine, and Hareton are all related, but most of my confusion may just be a result of expectation (this is why it’s best to go into a book knowing absolutely nothing). Though, the resounding question I have after they’re introduced has less to do with who they are and more to do with why they are all so ridiculously hostile. Are they all just “like that?” Is it pent up anger from a past transgression that was picked up by the other two? Were they raised that way? I’m not sure, but I’m anxious to know, as finding out why someone is the way they are generally gives way to better knowing them and understanding their motives.