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Dual Narrators

Dual Narrators

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Published by: absentmindedmama on Aug 25, 2010
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The Narrators of Wuthering Heights
Carl R. Woodring
 Nineteenth-Century Fiction
, Vol. 11, No. 4. (Mar., 1957), pp. 298-305.
 Nineteenth-Century Fiction
is currently published by University of California Press.Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available athttp://www.jstor.org/about/terms.html. JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unless you have obtainedprior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and you may use content inthe JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use.Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained athttp://www.jstor.org/journals/ucal.html.Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printedpage of such transmission.The JSTOR Archive is a trusted digital repository providing for long-term preservation and access to leading academic journals and scholarly literature from around the world. The Archive is supported by libraries, scholarly societies, publishers,and foundations. It is an initiative of JSTOR, a not-for-profit organization with a mission to help the scholarly community takeadvantage of advances in technology. For more information regarding JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.http://www.jstor.orgMon Mar 17 17:33:07 2008
Narrators of
by C. P. Sanger in 1926, the struc-ture of
Wuthering Heights
has been further illumined by a hostof laudatory critics, notably Paul
Fulcher (1g2g), Lord DavidCecil (1934), Boris Ford (1939), G.
Klingopulos (1947), Mel-vin R. Watson (1949), Mark Schorer (1g49), Royal
Gettman(1g50), Bruce McCullough (1g50), Dorothy Van Ghent (1g52),B.
Lehman (1g55), and V. S. Pritchett (1956). Reprintings ofthe Oxford World's Classics edition preserve an older view in
W. Garrod's resolute assertions, dated 1930, that the story, sufferingfrom "inferior technique," is in parts "uncertainly conceived" and"in general ill constructed." Although most laudatory critics havenoticed the debt owed by the structure of the novel to its use of twopresumed narrators, more remains to be said about the utility ofLockwood and Nelly Dean.The earlier scholar, learned in Gothic romances and tales from
found in Nelly's narrative within narrative the mis-fortune of inherited inconvenience; the later critic, familiar withselected masterworks, hails the use of contrasting narrators as awonder of creative intuition. Let us accept the method as bor-rowed from inferior tales, but chosen rather than inherited. What
Woodring, assistant professor of English, University of Wisconsin, has beenGuggenheim Fellow and Ford Fellow,
Narrators of
other method could have better provided the reader with the inter-locking of familiar details concerning two generations and
stranger's astonishment over the beginning, the middle, and theend of Heathcliff's story? Nelly alone, Heathcliff himself as Jame-sian or Austenian register, omniscient author, a series of actors orservants speaking independently-none of these as narrativeauthority could have provided the union of intimacy, intensity,interpretation, and detached admiration that Emily Bronte neededand achieved. Lockwood, the stranger, shares the reader's wonderat the characters and events; Mrs. Dean, the intimate, has longsupped with wonders; stranger and intimate combine to certify thegeneral facts.The double narration is
convention and must be accepted as
convention. Much in
Wzlthering Heights,
including charactersas well as techniques, rests upon transformed conventions. Sweptwith the surge of demonism and quieted with purgation andrepose at the end, the reader need not be disturbed because theconventions allow Nelly to linger overlong at various doors orLockwood to report what Nelly said Zillah said the second Cath-erine said to Hareton. If, however, the critical reader becomesdisturbed, if he demands a logic in the deviousness
which solil-oquies reach him, he has no justification for exclaiming thatLockwood must have memorized Isabella's unlikely letter to Nellyverbatim. The logic he unnecessarily demands lies in this: ulti-mately all the words come to us from Lockwood. As after accept-ing the illusion of memory in a flashback, we may believe oncritical reflection that the letter from Isabella as read by Nelly con-tained a briefer summary than Lockwood reports to us. Like hiscreator, Lockwood understands the value of first-person narrative;after
in the events related by Nelly, he continues the story"in her own words, only a little condensed." That the events oc-curred, their impact makes us believe; Lockwood's interventioncan account for similarities between the styles of Nelly, Isabella,and Zillah through which the events make their impact. If we

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