Comparing the narrative techniques used in ‘Wuthering Heights’ and ‘Your Shoes’ Essay

I am comparing the different narrative techniques used in two different books ‘Wuthering Heights’, by Emily Bronte and ‘Your Shoes’, by Michi??le Roberts. Women wrote both of these books, which adds quite a lot to the stories and makes them similar in terms of emotions and viewpoints on different subjects and situations. The author’s background can have a large impact on the story as can their upbringing. Emily Bronte grew up in Yorkshire and therefore has a good knowledge of the areas superstitions, and the local dialect.

She changed her name to Ellis Bell to publish the book because men used to be far more respected and accepted as authors than women. If she had kept as Emily Bronte than perhaps her book wouldn’t have been as successful as it was. Michi??le Roberts doesn’t have this problem because over the years women have become more and more respected as authors and perhaps their generally superior English skills make them even better than men. Both books have similar themes including love, loneliness and a presence of ghosts.

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The chose of narrators in the film limit them in some ways. Nelly in Wuthering Heights is, very much steady figure who throughout shows little personal emotion or feeling. The loneliness is shown in the characters of Catherine in Wuthering Heights and the mother in Your Shoes. They both lock themselves away from the world and this leads them to depression. There is also a strong theme of love in the stories where one character longs for another. Both of the books use first person narrative and this limits us quite significantly.

You are able to identify with the narrator and become used to their writing style, but using first-person does not allow you to get into the other characters heads and feel their emotions and feelings. There are other writing styles that enable you to achieve this better, such as third person narrative, where I suppose the author is the narrator. This is an unbiased approach. You lose some development of in-depth character feelings, but you do find out about all the characters from an objective point of view.

Another narrative style is rotating the narrators. The only book that I can think of that does this is ‘Junk’ but I’m sure that others do as well. This, although at times slightly confusing allows you to get right into the characters head and find out what different characters are experiencing and their outlook on the same situation. In ‘Wuthering Heights’ Nelly is the principle narrator. Nelly is a good character to choose as narrator because though both Catherine and Heathcliff dislike her they tell her a lot of personal things.

Throughout the book she builds up strong relationships with many of the characters so they can talk to her and we learn of their inside feelings which may not be shown physically. It wouldn’t have been a good idea from Emily Bronte to make another character for example Heathcliff narrator because although his inside feelings would undoubtedly have made better reading than Nelly’s his relationships with the other characters would have left you very unsure of the other characters and he would have a very biased point of view.

In Your Shoes we only know of a handful of characters of which the mother is the only feasible option to choose as narrator because if she had used the daughter then the story wouldn’t have been the same because it then would have been about her living rough and what she was doing. The only other option that Michi??le Roberts had was to make the father the narrator. This would have worked in much the same way as the mother only she obviously felt that the mother was a better choice because more people could associate with her and her situation. The mother expresses a lot of emotion at the loss of her daughter.

It has effected her in I believe much more than it has the father. The mother has just given up her life to brood and reflect on the departure of her daughter from her life. At points in the story she loses control of herself and the plot of the story is built around the mothers frame of mind. In one paragraph she was talking about the ways that she can prevent herself from letting out her fears and loneliness yet before the end of the paragraph she was questioning her sanity. The way she talks of the daughter’s shoes reveals that maybe she has, as she fears gone mad.

The mother is talking of her own experience and almost wants to get it off her chest. This means that her writing is very rushed and in many places slightly unclear and contains a lot of information. This works well as a short story and tells us that the narrator is not cared about how the story reads. The style and content of Your Shoes differs largely to Wuthering Heights. This is in part to the lengths of the stories. I’m sure that if Michi??le Roberts decided to write Your Shoes as a full-length novel than she would, as Emily Bronte did, use far more description in her writing and also a more structural plot.

In Wuthering Heights some of the themes are much more complex than those in Your Shoes. There is a strong gothic feeling about the moors in Wuthering Heights and actually the house itself. The way Emily Bronte writes makes the moors appear very eerie and cold as they are I real life. This is achieved by using a lot of descriptive language and sentences. There is also a feeling of demonic imagery when Lockwood sees the spirit of Catherine in the room he sleeps in at his stay at Wuthering Heights. Lockwood adds another dimension to the story. Like the reader of the book he is separate to the happenings at The Heights over the last 50 years.

This means that at the beginning of the story he knows no more of the characters of Heathcliff or Nelly than us, we can therefore relate to him. He is a very observant narrator and his parts of the novel are filled with description, which allows us to build an image of the setting in our head. This technique that he uses also allows us to envisage the character of Heathcliff. For the reason that he uses so much description the story is very hard to understand and I found that I had to read that section of the story very carefully and slowly so I would not overlook anything.

The only two characters who narrate directly to us the reader are Nelly and Lockwood. This technique is called duel narrating and although this isn’t a brilliant example of the method of writing, it is still used. Throughout the story Catherine and Issabella also narrate to an extent. Catherine’s diary at the beginning whilst Lockwood is narrating comes before the story begins. This makes the content confusing but was well used by Emily Bronte introducing some of the characters early on.

Issabella’s letter to Nelly fills a gap in the story and gives us knowledge to something that otherwise we would not know about because of Nelly’s stance in the story. It informs us of Heathcliff’s behaviour and attitude to Issabella at Thrush Cross Grange through the form of an informative letter. Emily Bronte dealt efficiently with the problem of the narrators being, at times, out of the story that comes with using a first-person narrative with relative ease. This does actually improve the book as well because it adds another viewpoint to the story.


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