Mr. Lockwood, the narrator, has just rented a large, secluded
house called Thrushcross Grange in the desolate moors of
Yorkshire in northern England. When he goes to visit his
landlord, a Mr. Heathcliff, who lives a few miles away at a
smaller place called Wuthering Heights, he finds his new
neighbor surly and quarrelsome. Forced to spend the night
there because of a snowstorm, he dreams of a ghost calling
itself Catherine Linton. Back at the Grange, he asks his
housekeeper, Ellen (Nelly) Dean, to tell him about the strange
Mrs. Dean’s story begins thirty years before, when Wuthering
Heights was the home of a respectable family called the
Earnshaws. After a visit to Liverpool, Mr. Earnshaw has
brought home a stray gypsy lad, whom he calls Heathcliff, to
raise with his own children, Hindley and Catherine. Catherine
feels a special closeness with Heathcliff, but Hindley hates him
because the gypsy boy is Mr. Earnshaw’s favorite. Shortly after
his father dies, Hindley comes home from school with a new
wife, and forces Heathcliff into the role of servant. Cathy takes
Heathcliff’s side, and the two run wild together on the moors,
eventually falling in love. On one of their rambles they are
caught peeking into the windows of Thrushcross Grange,
where the Lintons live. The Linton children, Edgar and
Isabella, are afraid of the rough Heathcliff, but become fond of
Catherine, who is forced to stay with them for several weeks to
recover from the bite of their watchdog.
When Cathy returns home, she’s dressed like a lady and has
given up her wild ways. She laughs at Heathcliff’s black, cross
look, and he runs off in anger. Hindley’s wife dies soon after
bearing a son, and in his grief Hindley treats Heathcliff worse
than ever. Cathy and Heathcliff have also been arguing
Thus when Edgar Linton proposes, Cathy accepts. Afterward
she tells Ellen, the housekeeper, that Edgar is handsome and
cheerful, and that he’s going to be rich one day. It would
degrade her to marry Heathcliff now, she says, even though she
Unbeknownst to Cathy, Heathcliff has been listening, and
when he hears her say it would degrade her to marry him, he
runs away. Cathy is beside herself when she learns he’s gone,
Three years later, Cathy and Edgar marry, and together with
Ellen, whom they persuade to come with them, make their
home at Thrushcross Grange. The young couple have been
happy together for six months when Heathcliff returns, a rich
and educated man. He stays at Wuthering Heights with his old
enemy Hindley, who’s now a drunk. When Heathcliff visits
Thrushcross Grange, Cathy is delighted to see him. Isabella
Linton soon falls in love with the transformed Heathcliff.
Cathy and Edgar, are both enraged, but for different reasons.
Although Heathcliff thinks that Isabella is silly and weak, he
pursues her in order to get revenge on Edgar and, perhaps, to
get her property. Shortly after, Cathy falls ill. Delirious with
fever, she imagines herself back with the young Heathcliff.
While she lies ill, he and Isabella elope.