Figure 4: Essay Excerpt on Nelly, Wuthering Heights

Below is a sample excerpt that falls under the “Needs Clarification” comment.

You may view the comment by clicking the “N” category or by typing the title into the search box.

You may print the excerpt for class discussions.

Sample Excerpt

Nelly guesses and interprets based on what she observes.  She perceives on the basis of her own personal circumstance.  She is an active participant in the story she unfolds.  In the following extract she guesses about the character of Heathcliff, making a distinction between good and evil: “I was weeping as much for him as her:  we do sometimes pity creatures that have none of the feeling either for themselves or others; and when I first looked into his face I perceived that he had got intelligence of the catastrophe; and a foolish notion struck me that his heart was quelled, and he prayed, because his lips moved, and his gaze was bent on the ground”  (Bronte 186). In this extract, Nelly Dean approached Heathcliff, announcing the death of Catherine.  And by the movement of the latter’s lips, Nelly Dean assumes that Heathcliff’s heart was at the death of Catherine.  This is an example of Nelly’s unreliable character assessment of Heathcliff’s state of mind. She reminds the  reader that we cannot rely on her observation.  To be sure, she attacks her own assessment of the situation, calling her guess a “foolish notion.”

Figure 4: Essay Excerpt on Nelly, Wuthering Heights


The student doesn’t define how she will use terms within the context of her analysis nor does she indicate if the same terms are a part of the literary work?


1)What does Nelly observe?

2) After she observes, what is her guess, interpretation, or perception about the thing she observes?

3) Is her guess, interpretation, or perception the same thing?

4) Do all of these words have the same meaning within the context of the analysis and the literary work?

5) What does it mean to be an “unreliable character”?

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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