Nelly. More than a servant!
Why was Nelly the narrator? In the book Wuthering Heights, the author, Emily Bronte, made Nelly a servant who lives most of her life with Catherine the narrator. Many have questioned why Bronte would do so, and they have valid reasons such as : Why didn’t she choose someone with more knowledge, or why didn’t they choose a major character like Heathcliff or Catherine? I believe that the choice to make Nelly the narrator is what makes the book so great, and how the story is told, she is one who qualifies most to be the narrator.
This book is very much about love and hate, but Nelly is one who is totally un-opinionated about by the characters. She was like a mother figure; always there for everybody, and listened to them. That is what made her a good narrator because she always knew how everyone felt. She lived At Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange all her life, and experienced the first and second generation, therefore she knew exactly what went on. If Heathcliff was the narrator, you wouldn’t know how Isabella or Edgar felt; due to their lack of communication or friendship. Although Heathcliff’s opinion are valuable; Nelly’s knowledge is more valuable because she got along with and talked to everybody.
Nelly never really had a life of her own because she lived at Wuthering Heights all her life. Therefore, Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange was her life. Nelly was more than a servant, and had a personal relationship with most of the characters,which is why her story is so efficient, and her lack of knowledge not as important. She really loved them, and she shows it when she says, “I kissed Hareton good-bye; and since then he has been a stranger: and it’s queer to think it, but I’ve no doubt he has completely forgotten all about Ellen Dean, and that he was ever more than all the world to her and she to him!” (Wuthering Heights Pg. 81) Hareton probably doesn’t remember her, but that shows the lack of appreciation everyone had for her. No one praised her like
Heathcliff and Edgar praised Catherine, but no one hated her like Hindly hated
Heathcliff. In fact, she’s the “middle man” that makes the transition from Wuthering Heights to Thrushcross Grange so smooth. If she had not been the narrator we wouldn’t know what went on at Thrushcross Grange. Nelly manages to know what went on at Wuthering Heights because of her good relationship with everyone. So even though Nelly is not present there, she still has the capabilities to know what’s going on.
There really isn’t a mother figure in the story, but Nelly’s role sure imply that she’s the mother. It’s odd that every time a lad is born, the mother died during the birth, which led to Nelly’s “mother like” role. She didn’t only play her “mother like” role with Hareton and Cathy, (the two lads who’s mothers died during labor) but she also played her role with Heathcliff and Catherine. When Heathcliff retaliated against Hindly and decided not to eat due to his pride; Nelly brought him some food and made sure he was okay. She also aided Catherine when she was mad at Edgar. Nelly’s role is so important, and an example of it is when Nelly visited Wuthering Heights and Hareton was throwing
rocks at her and cursing at her. This would not have happened if Nelly was there, and Hareton would have learned how to read. On the other hand Little Cathy, who was raised by Nelly turned out to being an angel.
The thing that qualifies Nelly the most as an efficient narrator is her quality as a confidant. Nelly always listened to everybody, and I have a feeling that she wanted to know. Like when Catherine asked her to keep a secret; Nelly said, “Is it worth keeping? I inquired, less sulkily.” (Wuthering Heights Pg. 70) She could’ve said no and walked away, but she sat there and conversed about it. If Nelly wasn’t the narrator or a confidant to them all, we wouldn’t have known what Heathcliff did on the night that Catherine was buried, what he did to Catherine’s grave, how Isabella was being treated, why she ran
away, how Catherine really felt about Heathcliff, or that Heathcliff’s been haunted by Catherine’s spirit for eighteen years. All of these things are very significant in the story and not every character can tell you about it, and no one knows all of it except Nelly. If little Cathy didn’t trust Nelly to send her letters to Linton; they would never gotten together . That might have been a good thing, but the story wouldn’t turn out as great as it did because there would be no correlation to Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange because at this time there wasn’t any first generation left at Thrushcross Grange.In the end we realize Nelly was more than a servant. She was a part of their lives,and considerably a major character. At points in the book, if her present wasn’t present;the book would not be the same. Catherine and Heathcliff wouldn’t have anyone to consult to, or look after them. There really wasn’t a mother in the story, but Nelly is practically everyone’s mother. It is very questionable, but Nelly could be more important than Heathcliff who is more likely favored to being the most important. Bronte herself was bothered by illnesses and died due to that, and all the characters who died, died of
illnesses too. The significance of this is that out of everyone, Nelly was the healthiest mentally and physically which shows how important she is.