Wuthering Heights Plot Summary
It is 1801 and Thrushcross Grange has a new tenant, Mr. Lockwood. He visits his landlord, Mr. Heathcliff, who lives at Wuthering Heights, the neighboring property. Mr. Heathcliff is out, and his young relatives, Mrs. Heathcliff and Hareton Earnshaw, are very disagreeable. It starts to snow, but no one is willing to help Mr. Lockwood get home, or to let him stay. He is attacked by a dog while leaving, and in his bloody state, Mr. Heathcliff begrudgingly allows him to stay.
Mr. Lockwood passes his time reading from the journals of a young girl named Catherine. He starts to dream. In the dream he quarrels with a preacher, and the parishioners attack him. A tapping awakens him, and he breaks a window in his attempt to quiet it. He grabs the hand of a ghost child, who calls herself Catherine Linton. Terrified, his scream awakens Heathcliff, who calls for the ghost to reappear. Heathcliff escorts Mr. Lockwood home through the snow-covered moors, but he still catches a bad cold.
Sick for several weeks with this cold, Mr. Lockwood asks Nelly Dean, his serving woman, to tell him about the inhabitants of Wuthering Heights. She was once their housekeeper, and she has lots of stories to tell. Mrs. Heathcliff, who was married to Heathcliff's son, is the daughter of Mrs. Dean's late master, Edgar Linton. Hareton Earnshaw, the nephew of Mrs. Linton, is Mrs. Heathcliff's cousin. Mr. Heathcliff was married to Mr. Linton's sister, who bore Linton, Catherine's husband. Heathcliff was an orphan Mr. Earnshaw found wandering the streets of Liverpool. Hindley, the eldest child, was very jealous of him. When Mr. Earnshaw died two years later, Hindley made Heathcliff work in the fields. Catherine and Heathcliff remained close friends. One day, while spying on Thrushcross Grange, they saw two children, Isabella and Edgar, nearly tearing a puppy to pieces in a selfish rage. One of the Linton's dogs attacked Catherine when they tried to run. She stayed for several weeks to heal, and when she returned from the Lintons, she was well mannered and nicely dressed, which annoyed Heathcliff.
In 1778, Hindley's wife gave birth to Hareton, then died soon after. Hindley, crazed with grief, could not care for him. Despite their differences, Edgar and Catherine grew closer. Catherine agreed to marry Edgar, telling Nelly that Heathcliff was too inferior to marry. Heathcliff heard this, and disappeared without a word.
Catherine became sick, but when her health improved, she and Edgar married and moved to the Grange. The marriage was good until Heathcliff returned. Edgar's sister Isabella fell in love with Heathcliff, but he despised her. Heathcliff kissed Isabella to hurt Catherine, and they had a big fight. During the fight, Edgar came in, demanding Heathcliff leave his house. Disgusted by both of them, Catherine shut herself in her room for three days, becoming ill and mad.
Isabella ran off and married Heathcliff, but she hated her new life at Wuthering Heights. One night, Catherine gave birth to Catherine Linton, and died. Soon after Catherine's death, Isabella escaped to the Grange. She moved to London and had a child, named Linton, and died twelve years later. Hindley died six months after his sister.
Upon Isabella's death, Edgar tried to keep Linton, but Heathcliff sent for him. A few years later, when wandering near the Heights, Cathy met her cousin. But Cathy's father forbids the relationship. She starts a secret correspondence with Linton, and they think they are in love.
Mr. Earnshaw finally agreed the two cousins may visit if they do not go onto the Heights land. Linton coerced Nelly and Cathy to enter the house. Once inside, Heathcliff imprisoned them until Cathy agreed to marry Linton. With her father dying and escape impossible, Cathy relented. After her father died, Heathcliff moved his daughter-in-law to the Heights. Linton died soon after the wedding, and Catherine befriended Hareton, teaching him to read.
The following year, 1802, Mr. Lockwood returns to the Heights. He learns from Nelly that Heathcliff died unexpectedly after a strange and restless madness. He was buried next to Catherine, but several people believe they see he and Catherine wandering the moors. Cathy and Hareton are in love and plan to marry, then move into the Grange.