Humor in Wuthering Heights

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  • 0:01 Creating Realistic Characters
  • 0:16 Lockwood Visits…
  • 2:31 Humor at the Expense…
  • 3:21 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

'Wuthering Heights' by Emily Bronte is a work that deals with the serious issues of love, obsession, and revenge. It is not known for its humor, but in this lesson, we will look at Bronte's use of dark humor to help with character development.

Creating Realistic Characters

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte is known for being dramatic and passionate but at times incorporates dark humor to draw in the reader by making the characters relatable. Let's look at some specific examples of humor from this novel.

Lockwood Visits Wuthering Heights

Lockwood, the narrator, provides a great deal of comic relief at the beginning of the novel as he is a fish out of water at Wuthering Heights. Lockwood's fresh set of eyes on the other characters shows the reader the magnitude of the departure from normalcy that has taken place at Wuthering Heights. On Lockwood's first visit to see his new landlord, Heathcliff, he is left alone with a pack of snarling dogs. Lockwood is terrified, but Heathcliff and Hareton are in no hurry to rescue him. By the time they arrive, Lockwood says, 'The herd of possessed swine could have had no worse spirits in them than those animals of yours, sir. You might as well leave a stranger with a brood of tigers!' Perhaps he is exaggerating, but Lockwood's reaction is pretty humorous.

After this terrible first visit, why would Lockwood ever go back? We aren't sure what possesses him to give it another try the next day. As Lockwood sits down with Hareton, young Cathy, and Heathcliff, he tries to figure out the relationship of each of the inhabitants of Wuthering Heights. He is shocked when he realizes that Cathy and Hareton may be a couple. Lockwood thinks, '…. The clown at my elbow,…may be her husband….she has thrown herself away upon that boor from sheer ignorance that better individuals existed! A sad pity - I must beware how I cause her to regret her choice….I knew, through experience, that I was tolerably attractive.' It is even funnier that Lockwood thinks he is a better catch than Hareton considering how foolish Lockwood comes across due to his awkwardness at Wuthering Heights.

When it is time for Lockwood to leave, there is a blizzard outside and no one to guide him home. Lockwood becomes so frustrated, his nose starts to bleed. When Zillah, the housekeeper at Wuthering Heights, sees Lockwood's nose bleed, she says she has a cure for him. 'With these words she suddenly splashed a pint of icy water down my neck, and pulled me into the kitchen. Mr. Heathcliff followed, his accidental merriment expiring quickly in his habitual moroseness.' Even Heathcliff - who has no sense of humor - enjoys that one.

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