Wuthering Heights Chapter 1 Summary and Analysis

Wuthering Heights Chapter 1: Summary and Analysis

 

Wuthering Heights begins at a point which is set somewhere near the end of the entire Heathcliff-Catherine saga. The first chapter introduces us to Heathcliff at a point where  most of the romantic action has passed and he is now being the Frankenstein to others. This chapter gives a brief impression of his personality and character. As Lockwood comes to see his landlord, he is invited to a gothic setting with barely a pinch of friendliness in the air. The author introduces Heathcliff as the least affable character and as a man, Lockwood least expected he would be. He lives far from social conundrum and Lockwood has come there to find peace and is impressed by the beauty of the natural settings and the desolation it offers. Right in the beginning, the author takes us to a setting of eerie calm which is just as frightening as it is beautiful. In the later stages, this calm grows even deep and terrifying that the entire tale appears like set in a world of death or gloom.

Lockwood is himself a shy person but the way his landlord loves to keep away from society makes him feel luckier with regard to social etiquette.  As he approaches Heathcliff, the fellow makes no friendly or welcoming move.  His eyes withdrew under his brows and he pushed his fingers deep into the pockets of his waistcoat as if in no mood to shake hands trying to make Lockwood fell every bit unwelcome. To add insult to injury, there is wickedness in his voice with which he invites Lockwood in. His capital size makes him look all the more menacing and the way he utters ‘Walk In’, made Lockwood think he said ‘get lost’. The author describes Wuthering Heights and the look the place bears as very close to that of an abandoned cemetery. As they enter, Heathcliff orders Joseph an old servant to take away Mrs Lockwood’s horse and bring some wine for the guest.  Joseph is another despicable creature at Wuthering heights who follows his master’s orders reluctantly. Despite his old age, he is healthy and lean and resembles Dracula’s man servant in the novel. He gave Lockwood a sour look making him feel not wanted.

The author continues to describe the settings through Lockwood’s eyes and how Wuthering Heights got its name. Wuthering means the atmospheric tumult caused by storm and Lockwood could guess that a powerful North wind blew by because of the excessively slanted firs at the end of the house. The place was built to sustain in stormy weather with strong walls and deep set windows. The front door had carvings of mythical creatures and cherubs and above it was written 1500 and Hareton Earnshaw’s name. Had his host been a talkative creature, Lockwood would have liked to know the building’s history. Heathcliff’s disposition kept him from asking questions given his host would be annoyed and he wanted to not cause any fuss until he had inspected the inner sanctum.  The entry led to the sitting room including the kitchen and parlor and everything seemed so open to guest’s eyes, no particular care had been taken to hide things from a stranger’s eyes. Antique guns and horse pistols decorated the space over the chimney. A pointer female of the color liver sat under the drawers meant for keeping kitchen utensils, with her puppies surrounding her and squealing. Lockwood could feel the presence of other dogs around the place too. He compared Heathcliff with the general picture of the northern farmers who abound in that area. However, Heathcliff had a different personality. Dark skinned with gentlemanly manners and wearing some under bred pride which betrayed the existence of wild feelings underneath. Lockwood thought his reserve was common, born of an aversion for pomp and show. However, while trying to analyze and understand Heathcliff Lockwood started doubting himself that Heathcliff’s peculiar behaviour might be a result of his own dull appearance.  He recounted how he had made himself look a fool when he happened to fall in the company of a beautiful lady at a beach.  While his looks and body language could tell he was head over heels, when the poor lady tried to return the favour by casting on him a glance, he retreated with confusion into his own poor being. The girl surprised at his icy behaviour suggested her mother that they should decamp and left. Lockwood was left feeling punished for a mistake he did not deliberately commit.  He took a seat on the hearthstone and in order to gain familiarity and look easy he tried to caress the sitting female pointer. His actions were not welcomed and a guttural snarl came from the canine. Heathcliff also growled that he must not touch any of the dogs who did not love being spoiled. He called for Joseph who mumbled back reluctantly but did not produce anything. So, his master went to seek him and Lockwood was left alone with the pointer bitch who watched his movements like her master did. He sat there and feeling bored decided to try something on her, however cautiously. He started making faces thinking she was not going to mind it. However, something annoyed the bitch so much that it attacked him and while Lockwood flung her back to defend himself, more of them, nearly half a dozen followed from various corners of the house. Unable to control the situation he called for help.  While Heathcliff and Joseph moved, they seemed not very eager to help Lockwood. Instead someone else made a hasty move from inside the kitchen. A young woman came holding a frying pan and shouting at the herd made the storm calm instantly. Heathcliff asked what the matter was and his inhospitality made Lockwood lose his patience this time. He should have better left his guest among tigers than these possessed swines.

Heathcliff returned that they would not touch someone who would not mess with them. He asked Lockwood to have some wine and to restore the peace and in attempt to calm Lockwood down, he said that guests were so rare that he and his dogs had nearly forgotten every form of hospitality. He was able to restore the calm because Lockwood felt like overreacting and accepted the wine. Heathcliff appeared more civilized and empathetic and decided to talk of the good and bad of Thrushcross Grange where Lockwood was going to stay. They talked on several topics and Lockwood came to know that Heathcliff was an intelligent fellow. Before turning to leave, he proposed to pay another visit tomorrow but received no encouragement. He felt so sociable when compared to Heathcliff.

Abhijeet Pratap

Abhijeet has been blogging on educational topics and business research since 2016. He graduated with a Hons. in English literature from BRABU and an MBA from the Asia-Pacific Institute of Management, New Delhi. He likes to blog and share his knowledge and research in business management, marketing, literature and other areas with his readers.