A novel that I enjoyed in high school, "Wuthering Heights" by Emily Brontë, has some of what I find to be the most beautiful passages in literature. Here is one of my favorite passages from the novel and what I think about it.
“But Mr. Heathcliff forms a singular contrast to his abode and style of living. He is a dark-skinned gypsy in aspect, in dress and manners a gentleman, that is, as much a gentleman as many a country squire: rather slovenly, perhaps, yet not looking amiss with his negligence, because he has an erect and handsome figure—and rather morose. Possibly, some people might suspect him of a degree of under-bred pride; I have a sympathetic chord within that tells me it is nothing of the sort: I know, by instinct, his reserve springs from an aversion to showy displays of feeling—to manifestations of mutual kindliness. He’ll love and hate, equally under cover, and esteem it a species of impertinence to be loved or hated again—No, I’m running on too fast—I bestow my own attributes over-liberally on him” (Brontë 4).
This is thought by Lockwood, and it is one of the first descriptions of Heathcliff given in the novel. Lockwood describes Heathcliff as a mysterious man in terms of his racial background and social aspects. Heathcliff is described physically as a gypsy, and then as a fine gentleman, aspects that seem to contradict each other in Lockwood’s explanation. Lockwood also describes Heathcliff as sullen and dirty, which also contradicts the “gentleman” aspect that Lockwood stated. Also, Lockwood believes that he can understand Heathcliff by his instincts, and he feels that Heathcliff is somehow connected to him. Although Lockwood assumes that he is similar to Heathcliff, perhaps he is too quick to judge him so soon.
From the beginning of the novel, it is clear to the audience that Heathcliff is one of the most mysterious characters of the novel. It seems that this thought by Lockwood is one of the first attempts to understand Heathcliff as a character and his motivations. In addition, this only shows the surface of Heathcliff’s complex personality, as well as his inner paradoxical nature, as his noble “dress and manners” contradict his “slovenly” and “morose” traits.
This thought by Lockwood is important because it proposes an idea of Heathcliff’s character at a first glance. Because this idea will have influence as the novel continues, the novel seems to follow a domino effect trend. This thought will influence someone else’s thoughts about Heathcliff, which will influence someone else, the audience, proving its importance.