Having a first person narrative in Kidnapped caused the plot to move slower, making the story more intimate, but less interesting to me, while having Nelly tell the story in Wuthering Heights slowed the plot down and created dissonance, it added to the overall story.

In Kidnapped, David spends a lot of his journey exhausted, and there are many long paragraphs devoted to the description of his physical state:

There was no such thing possible for me. You have heard grasshoppers whirring in the grass in the summer time? Well, I had no sooner closed my eyes, than my body, and above all my head, belly, and wrists, seemed to be filled with whirring grasshoppers; and I must open my eyes again at once, and tumble and toss, and sit up and lie down’ and look at the sky which dazzled me, or at Cluny’s wild and dirty sentries, peering out over the top of the brae and chattering to each other in the Gaelic (2029).

David’s journey out of the Highlands is filled with similar paragraphs. I can understand how these drawn out metaphors impart the feeling of David’s exhaustion better than simply saying he’s exhausted over and over, but I quickly grew weary of hearing of his physical state. The first person narrative often lends a good perspective for trying to understand the Highland/lowland cultural differences, but hearing the story mediated through David’s physical and mental state. Slowing down the story with these descriptions maybe gave a more accurate impression of David’s journey, but it also fostered a disinterest in the narrator. The first person narrative of a young boy was probably chosen in part to create a feeling of intimacy, and a way in to Highlander culture for the non-native reader. However, these winding descriptions of exhaustion exhausted me. They slowed the story down too much, without giving the story something of value. I can get a sense of the difficulty of the journey without hearing David’s constant narration on the theme.

 

This harping on a theme creating a dissonance between me and the text also occurred in my reading of Wuthering Heights. I grew to dislike Nelly’s biased advice giving, which runs through the entire narrative. One of the first times she admonishes Heathcliff she tells him “They are good children, no doubt, and don’t deserve the treatment you receive, for your bad conduct” (583). Nelly quietly joins the side determined to misunderstand Heathcliff, but wants to keep her meddling fingers in all the pies. Watching this trait in Nelly throughout the story created an intense feeling of frustration, while at the same time offering a perspective on Heathcliff that is more intriguing than simply hearing his internal monologue.

 

The dissonance created within Wuthering Heights by the mediation of the story teller was much more effective than in Kidnapped. Recognizing Nelly’s character flaws helped inform a political and economic reading of the text. Listening to David describe his exhaustion, on the other hand, only weighed the text down.

 

 

 

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