Mr. Lockwood in Wuthering Heights: Character Analysis & Quotes

Instructor: Margaret Stone

Margaret has taught both college and high school English and has a master's degree in English.

In Emily Bronte's 'Wuthering Heights', Mr. Lockwood hears an intricate and interesting tale after he rents a home from Heathcliff. Lockwood, like the reader, stands outside the story and tries to comprehend the strange story he hears from Nelly Dean.

Who Is Mr. Lockwood?

Mr. Lockwood is a wealthy gentleman who comes to spend a year in the country at Thrushcross Grange. Heathcliff, as the owner of Thrushcross Grange, is Lockwood's landlord. Lockwood meets Heathcliff at Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff's home atop the English moors. Lockwood is struck at once by the beauty and isolation of the area. 'This is certainly a beautiful country! In all England, I do not believe that I could have fixed on a situation so completely removed from the stir of society,' Lockwood says.

Two Visits to Wuthering Heights

Lockwood's first visit to Wuthering Heights reveals an important clue about his character. Lockwood completely misjudges Heathcliff. When he first meets his landlord, Lockwood says of Heathcliff, 'A capital fellow! He little imagined how my heart warmed towards him when I beheld his black eyes withdraw so suspiciously under their brows, as I rode up, and when his fingers sheltered themselves, with a jealous resolution, still further in his waistcoat, as I announced my name.' All the clues are there: Lockwood's own description contains clues about Heathcliff's dark and guarded nature, yet Lockwood takes an instant liking to Heathcliff.

Not only is Lockwood depicted as a poor judge of the character of others, but he is also not very self-aware. Lockwood views himself as desirous of solitude, describing his new accommodations as 'A perfect misanthropist's heaven: and Mr. Heathcliff and I are such a suitable pair to divide the desolation between us.' This statement later proves to be false as Lockwood is shown virtually clinging to Nelly Dean to alleviate his isolation.

On his second visit to Wuthering Heights, Lockwood gets a better sense of its strange inhabitants. Stranded at Heathcliff's home during a snow storm, Lockwood finds his host anything but hospitable. Zillah, one of Heathcliff's servants, escorts Lockwood to a bedroom. In the bedroom, Lockwood first encounters the name of Catherine as he peruses her books. Later in the night, he experiences a nightmare or a ghostly vision, which elicits an odd response from Heathcliff. Heathcliff begs the ghost to enter Lockwood's bedroom - a plea that Lockwood does not understand at all. The next day, Heathcliff agrees to guide Lockwood back to the Grange, and Lockwood is more than happy to leave Wuthering Heights at last.

The Lockwood Frame Story

After the hair-raising night spent at Wuthering Heights, Lockwood becomes curious about Heathcliff and the other inhabitants of the house. The housekeeper Nelly Dean has been in the area eighteen years, so when he returns to the Grange he decides to ask her about Heathcliff and the curious behavior of the residents of Wuthering Heights. 'Well, Mrs. Dean, it will be a charitable deed to tell me something of my neighbours: I feel I shall not rest if I go to bed; so be good enough to sit and chat an hour.'

Lockwood thus sets up the frame story or story within a story when he presses Nelly to talk about Heathcliff. Nelly's story becomes the second narrative in the novel, and she tells the majority of Heathcliff's story. Lockwood becomes the audience for Nelly's story just as the reader is the audience for Bronte's novel. Nelly has gleaned some parts of the story from Zillah and Joseph, Heathcliff's servants. Lockwood is the only narrator who does not witness the strange events that have shaped Heathcliff into the man Lockwood meets when he takes up residence at the Grange.

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