We first meet Lockwood as narrator when he gives an account of his first meeting with Heathcliff. He misreads Heathcliff as a misanthropist loner, and talks in sarcastic tone when talking about Heathcliff being a “capitol fellow”. The account he gives us is intended to make us sympathise with himself and to disregard Heathcliff as a jealous possessive man, incapable of friendly chat that Lockwood tries hard to engage him in.Lockwood is fully aware of his intrusion into Heathcliffs solitary world, as he is the one giving the account and includes the manner in which Heathcliff addresses him.
The walk-in was uttered with closed teeth and expressed the sentiment, ‘go to the Deuce'”. Here Lockwood contradicts himself by calling himself “exaggeratedly reserved”, but continues to struggle to interact with Heathcliff. There is even a physical barrier – the gate on which Heathcliff leans – stopping him interacting with Heathcliff, but Lockwood continues to endure harshness of Heathcliffs language and tone, until he is invited in, and he physically breaks through the barrier with his horse.From this opening we learn that Lockwood lives in land owned by Heathcliff, and that Heathcliff is unsociable towards Lockwood, who refuses to leave though unwelcomed. This tells us that Lockwood has a strong character, and is “thoroughly sociable and anxious to remain that way”, despite identifying himself as ‘exaggeratedly reserved’. We get the impression that he has moved to The Grange to appear fashionable, and assumes Heathcliff has too, and we get the contrast in characters.Despite the unwelcoming reception he received after his first visit, he returns to Wuthering Heights and makes a series of mistakes that his arrogance stop him from seeing. Most of these mistakes arise from the upkeep of his class.
He assumes Hareton is a servant from his dress and this narrow view of class prevents him from seeing Hareton as the friendliest person at the Heights. It is Hareton that lets him in to the house, and after staying the night, shows him where to eat breakfast.He receives more consideration from Hareton than any other character, but his arrogance and snobbery mean he responds with amusement. Not only is Lockwood a contrast with Heathcliff, but also with Hareton who shows authenticity and straightforwardness. He also makes mistakes about relation of Hareton and Heathcliff, that Cathy is wife of Heathcliff then later recasts her as Haretons wife, and mistakes “cushion full of cats” which turns out to be a heap of dead rabbits.This could refer to the Heights as a place to live too, that at first glance all seems to be well with a family living in a large house in quiet seclusion, but when you look upon it closer, it turns out to be full of anger and violence, a heap of dead rabbits.
These mistakes made by Lockwood show that his arrogance and stupidity fail to let him see these mistakes, or let him learn from them. He ‘reaches the pitch of absurdity’ when he assumes that Josephs insult about someone’s mother is mean to refer to him.It is this self-involvement that make him return to the Heights a second time, despite fully understanding he is unwelcome. The tale in which Lockwood will hear from Nelly is an “extraordinary tale of passion” and from the first three chapters we learn a little about Lockwood’s feelings about love. We hear a story in which Lockwood fell in love with a girl on the seacoast but he says “I shrunk icily into myself, like a snail, at every glance retired colder and farther”. He has withdrawn from passion, and is also in contrast to Heathcliff who embraced passion.
We get the sense that Lockwood is almost afraid of love, and the word ‘love’ can only appear in inverted commas – the feeling is “naked and uncivilised” to Lockwood. The feeling of love divides Heathcliff and Lockwood further and adds to the contrasts between them. The contrast gives evidence to suggest we shouldn’t be surprised how little Nelly’s extraordinary tale of passion affects Lockwood because he is unfamiliar with love. Heathcliff can endure the tale of passion because he is a contrast of Lockwood.
The way in which he treats the supposed ghost of Cathy Linton also implies that he would not be able to deal with the extraordinary tale of passion. His character seems to be one of coldness, and lack of feeling and compassion. The ‘ghost’ is a child, yet he still cuts her wrist on the broken glass, and tricks her into letting him go. This gives indication that a story full of compassion and love would not be able to reach Lockwood to affect him.
In conclusion, there is much evidence to make us unsurprised how little Nelly’s extraordinary tale of passion affects Lockwood.