Wuthering Heights



Nelly is the most sympathetic character, the most practical, the most balanced, the most prudent, and the most involved secondary character in the novel. She is, however, not without her moments of antipathy, imprudence, impracticality, and imbalance. She typically guides those in her charge to the right path, but she cannot make them take it, for almost everyone around her is bent on exerting his or her own will regardless of whether it is right or wrong to do so. Nelly often acts as the voice of reason and sometimes manages to help steer events to a happy conclusion.

This is evidenced by the two halves of the novel. With Catherine, Nelly is unable to truly help her resolve the issue at hand, which involves two dominant personalities—Heathcliff’s and Catherine’s—and one weaker but sterner one—Edgar’s. With Cathy, however, Nelly is better able to effect a good end, by appealing to Cathy’s better nature and drawing her to Hareton.

Nelly narrates almost the entire novel to Lockwood, and in telling her story manages to walk a fine line between indifferent observer and active participant. At times she is both, which allows her to fit in with the other characters, who are never simply one thing at all times—except perhaps Joseph (but then, even he is shown to love his trees, which for one moment makes him a sympathetic character, too).

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Essays About Wuthering Heights