preview

The Narrative Structure of Wuthering Heights and Heart of Darkness

Good Essays
The Narrative Structure of Wuthering Heights and Heart of Darkness

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte was first published in 1847, during the Victorian Era. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad was first published as a complete novel in 1902, beginning what is referred to as the Modernist Era in literature. Each of these compelling stories is narrated by an uninvolved character who is quoting a story told to them by a character who actually participated in the story being told. There are both differences and similarities in these effective methods of narration that reflect the styles and expectations of those times.

In Bronte's Wuthering Heights, the character of Lockwood begins the tale, and then moves into recounting
…show more content…
The exact participation of the narrator is a key element in these two narrative styles. Nelly Dean seems to know a great deal about what is going on inside the heads and hearts of the other characters in her story. For instance, when she is recounting Isabella Linton's love for Heathcliff, and her brother's reaction to it she says, "Leaving aside the degradation of an alliance with a nameless man, and the possible fact that his property, in default to heirs male, might pass into such a one's power, he had sense to comprehend Heathcliff's disposition-to know that, though his exterior was altered, his mind was unchangeable, and unchanged. And he dreaded that mind; it revolted him; he shrank forebodingly from the idea of committing Isabella to its keeping"(WH 78). For some of today's readers, this is unnerving and tends to shed a suspicious light onto Ms Dean. How could she possibly know what any of these other characters were thinking or feeling? Since many of the people in her story are dead, there is no way to verify if her version of their thoughts and feelings is correct. Simply put, by today's standards, she seems to know too much.

Although today's readers may be suspicious of Ms Dean's summations of the other character's thoughts and feelings, this narrative style is fitting for the Victorian Era. Audiences were well educated and wanted to be entertained. Victorian novels became
Get Access