The tone is critical and disapproving throughout most of the novel, but it changes to become more hopeful and compassionate towards the end. Lockwood begins the novel with a desire to be alone, seeking out “a perfect misanthropist’s heaven,” but quickly becomes annoyed by what he views as the anti-social and unrefined behavior of the residents of Wuthering Heights. With the exception of admiring Cathy’s beauty, he usually shows disapproval towards the people he meets, sarcastically calling them “a pleasant family.” Because Nelly knows more about the complex histories of the Earnshaw and Linton families, she demonstrates more compassion in her narration, but she often expresses disapproval when speaking of Cathy Earnshaw and Heathcliff. She knows that they, and others, have made decisions that have culminated in the unhappy lives of Hareton and Cathy Linton.
When Lockwood returns to Yorkshire in the late summer, the tone is very different and is now imbued with hope. Nelly reflects on how happy the upcoming marriage will make her: “The crown of all my wishes will be the union of those two.” Lockwood, after spending most of the novel being judgmental towards the people he is learning about, ends the tale with a tone of sympathy and compassion, referring to Cathy, Edgar, and Heathcliff as “sleepers in that quiet earth.”