Wuthering Heights: Summary

This article by Custom-Writing.org experts contains all you need to know about the summary of Wuthering Heights: a timeline, a synopsis, and a detailed description of the events by chapters.

❗ Wuthering Heights: Synopsis

Wuthering Heights appears in the form of a diary led by Mr. Lockwood. The novel tells a story about a few generations of the family that lives at Wuthering Heights, a remote farmhouse in a moory area of England. A housekeeper shares with Mr. Lockwood the long tale of love vengeance of the inhabitants.

📈 Wuthering Heights: Timeline

Below you’ll find an infographic that contains Wuthering Heights timeline.

📗 Wuthering Heights: Chapter Summaries

We have divided the Wuthering Heights book summary into several groups of chapters for easier access.

Wuthering Heights: Chapters 1-5

In 1801, Mr. Lockwood writes in his journal that he needs to be alone for a little bit after hurting his beloved. For this purpose, he rents a house called Thrushcross Grange. It appears to be in the countryside of Yorkshire and belongs to Mr. Heathcliff.

Lockwood meets the landlord and describes him as having rough but honorable features. Heathcliff lives in Wuthering Heights. The estate got its name thanks to the harsh winds.

Wuthering’ being a significant provincial adjective, descriptive of the atmospheric tumult to which its station is exposed in stormy weather.

Wuthering Heights,
chapter 1

The host leaves him alone with the growling hounds in the room of this grotesque house. The dogs nearly attract Lockwood, but the housekeeper saves him. After such rude behavior, no wonder that he was angry at Heathcliff.

However, he warms toward his landlord and promises to come back the next day.

When he visits again, it begins to snow. No one rushes to answer the door, though. A man with a strong accent, Joseph the servant, shouts out that Mr. Heathcliff is not at home. 

Finally, a young man lets the visitor in and walks him into the room, where a pretty but rude lady is already sitting. Lockwood assumes that it’s Heathcliff’s wife. When the host arrives, he doesn’t seem to be very happy with the guest but still offers him to stay for dinner quite hesitantly.

At the table, the question of their complicated family tree arises. It appears that Lockwood’s suggestion is wrong, and the young woman is the wife of Heathcliff’s dead son. Then, he finds out that the man who let him in is Mr. Heathcliff’s nephew, Hareton Earnshaw.

The dinner is awkward, and the snow turns into a full blizzard. However, no one wishes to help Lockwood again. Tired of all the weird quarrels, he decides to walk home by himself.

He borrows the lantern, promises to return it later, and leaves. The servant assumes that he is stealing it and sends the hounds after Lockwood. Unable to fight the dogs and the wind, he falls and gets a nosebleed. The housekeeper helps him out again and walks him back into Wuthering Heights, where he has to stay for the night.

Zillah shows him the room, and Lockwood investigates it when left alone. There are three names scratched on the bed: Catherine Earnshaw, Catherine Heathcliff, and Catherine Linton. Then he finds her old diary and reads one entry.

That story highlights the relationship between family members. Catherine appears to be close to Heathcliff, while her older brother, Hindley, hates him.

That night Lockwood has a nightmare. Little Catherine Earhshaw tries to enter through the window. He opens and begs him to help. He wakes up, crying out as Heathcliff runs into the room to check. 

After sharing his experience, Lockwood says that the ghost from his dream deserves suffering. But Heathcliff only gets enraged and shouts for Catherine to return at the window.

In the morning, Lockwood returns home escorted by Heathcliff and prefers to stay alone in his room.

Feeling lonely at Thrushcross Grange, Mr. Lockwood asks the housekeeper to share something with him regarding the family living in Wuthering Heights. In this chapter, we find out some more details about them.

Nelly tells him that she spent her childhood in Wuthering Heights together with Hindley and Catherine Earnshaw. Heathcliff appears to be much wealthier than it seems and can allow himself to live in a nicer house.

He also has a dead son, and that rude young lady there is Cathy. She is a child of Edgar Linton (who used to rent Thrushcross Grange before) and Catherine Earnshaw. Hareton, who Lockwood also met that night, is the last member of the old family of Earnshaw.

Here this Wuthering Heights plot summary should inform you that the point of view shifts to Nelly’s. She is the one telling her story for now.

The previous owner of Wuthering Heights was Mr. Earnshaw. Nelly remembers him being a very kind-hearted man. One day, after his trip, he came back with a boy picked up from the streets, Heathcliff. Catherine, Earnshaw’s daughter, became fond of the boy pretty quickly, but her brother, Hindley, grew to hate him.

Hindley couldn’t take the fact that his father loved the foster boy more than his own son. He would often bully Heathcliff, who suffered it all in silence. Mrs. Earnshaw was on her son’s side and also wasn’t kind to Heathcliff. However, she died two years after he arrived.

The storyline continues.

Mr. Earnshaw’s health is not getting better with years. Moreover, he has had enough of Hindley’s attitude. Earnshaw sends him to study at college, and Catherine and Heathcliff have a chance to get to know each other better.

Religion becomes Mr. Earnshaw’s relief on the deathbed. Joseph is a fanatic, though, but he still gets more and more power over his master. And Catherine keeps getting into trouble together with Heathcliff. The girl loves her father with all her heart, and she stays with him when he passes away.

Now, Heathcliff and Catherine don’t mind turning to God, and they talk about heaven on the night when Mr. Earnshaw dies. Meanwhile, Hindley is supposed to come back soon to take the place of Wuthering Heights’ head.

Wuthering Heights: Chapters 6-9

Hindley brings a little bit of an ignorant wife, Frances. Since he’s in charge of the land now, all the servants are relocated. Heathcliff is forced to work in the fields instead of continuing his education.

Usually, Catherine and Heathcliff escape to the moors to play, away from their brother’s tyranny. However, when one day they go missing, Hindley orders to lock the doors. Nelly decides to disobey and wait for them. 

Heathcliff comes back alone. He tells Nelly that they went to have a look at Thrushcross Grange. They stayed outside, and Heathcliff said that Edgar and Isabella, Linton’s kids, must be “idiots.” The owners spotted the couple since they were laughing. The family’s dog bit Catherine, and the Lintons offered her to stay at their place until she gets better.

…I left her, as merry as she could be,.. kindling a spark of spirit in the vacant blue eyes of the Lintons—a dim reflection from her own enchanting face. I saw they were full of stupid admiration; she is so immeasurably superior to them—to everybody on earth, is she not, Nelly?

Wuthering Heights,
chapter 6

Heathcliff wanted to stay there with her, but the Lintons didn’t quite like his appearance and manners, so they kicked him out. The boy watched them through the window, and it seemed like Catherine enjoyed all the affection the family from Thrushcross Grange showered her with.

Mr. Linton comes to have a talk with Hindley the next day. He criticizes and blames his irresponsibility towards Catherine. However, Hindley blames it on Heathcliff and forbids him to see the girl.

After Catherine stays with the Lintons for more than a month, she comes back behaving like a real lady. Compared to her, Heathcliff looks as dirty as a street boy. Mrs. Linton makes a comment on that, and Hindley sends the boy away.

Nelly and Catherine are the only ones who pity Heathcliff. When the housekeeper brings him some food, he promises revenge on Edgar, who also mocks him. At this moment, Nelly has to interrupt her story because it’s bedtime.

Nelly continues to tell her story. Lockwood finds out that the next summer, Frances dies after delivering a child, a boy named Hareton. Hindley tries to calm his depression with alcohol and mistreats Catherine and Heathcliff even more.

Once, when he’s away, Heathcliff wants to spend some time with Catherine, but she can’t because Edgar and Isabelle Linton are coming around. The boy takes it personally and leaves. Edgar arrives alone, though.

Nelly refuses to leave the two alone, and it infuriates Catherine, as she even gets physical. This behavior repels Edgar, but her beauty is capturing. As Hindley comes back, Nelly warns Catherine and Edgar. After staying alone for a while, their mutual love is obvious.

Catherine confesses to Nelly that she has accepted Edgar’s proposal, but she is not sure about it yet. At the same time, Heathcliff seems not to be worth marrying. Heathcliff, who overhears it, gets enraged and flees, missing the moment when Catherine says how much she still loves him.

My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods: time will change it, I’m well aware, as winter changes the trees. My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath: a source of little visible delight, but necessary. Nelly, I am Heathcliff!

Wuthering Heights,
chapter 9

When she finds out that Heathcliff is missing, she goes after him, but only finds sickness. The Lintons are trying to nurse her and eventually die from the illness.

Heathcliff is still not back three years later, and Catherine marries Edgar. At the time, Nelly leaves the little Hareton for Hindley to take care of and moves to Thrushcross Grange.

Wuthering Heights: Chapters 10-15

The Wuthering Heights timeline jumps back and forth between the past and present. Now we get a glimpse of the present once again. Lockwood gets sick but asks Nelly to tell him some more, and she continues. 

She doesn’t know how Heathcliff got rich, but one day he returned.

A little while after their wedding, Catherine and Edgar are doing fine. Then when Heathcliff shows up, she’s over the moon. Her husband is not so happy about it, of course.

Heathcliff stays at Wuthering Heights because Hindley, chasing his fortune, invites him. Catherine keeps seeing Heathcliff despite her husband. Later, it appears that Isabella has a crush on Heathcliff, and Catherine reveals it.

As Heathcliff and Isabella develop some kind of feelings for each other, Catherine confronts her beloved. Heathcliff only wants revenge, though. As the tension between the three of them rises, Edgar throws away Heathcliff and demands his wife to choose.

Not being able to cope with her feelings, Catherine locks herself in the room and stops eating. On the third day, she comes out, but she feels so sick that she believes death is near.

Since her husband doesn’t talk to her, he says she would never rest until she is with Heathcliff. Her appearance is so disturbing that they call a doctor, but he says she can recover.

The same day, Isabella and Heathcliff run away.

After two months, Catherine, with no to little improvement, finds out that she is pregnant. At the same time, Isabella writes to her brother from Wuthering Heights, where everybody treats her awfully. Edgar doesn’t wish to forgive her, even though she admits her mistakes.

Nelly, worried about Isabella, comes to Wuthering Heights to see her. Instead, Heathcliff tries to blackmail the housekeeper into helping him. He wants to come and see Catherine when he finds out about her condition.

Not being able to resist his power, Nelly gives up and agrees to pass the letter from Heathcliff to Catherine.

As Edgar leaves, the two lovers can finally see each other. Catherine begs for forgiveness; she can never stop loving Heathcliff. The poor guy is deeply disturbed by her health.

I’m not wishing you greater torment than I have, Heathcliff. I only wish us never to be parted: and should a word of mine distress you hereafter, think I feel the same distress underground, and for my own sake, forgive me!

Wuthering Heights,
chapter 15

It gets worse when Edgar comes back. Pregnant Catherine collapses, and Heathcliff passes her to her husband and almost commands him to take care of her first. Nelly sends Heathcliff away, promising to send the news the next morning, but he decides to stay nearby.

Wuthering Heights: Chapters 16-20

That night, Catherine’s daughter, Cathy Linton, is born. Unfortunately, the woman herself dies within a couple of hours. Nelly passes the news to Heathcliff, and he stays in the garden. Edgar doesn’t leave the body for a while. When he finally needs rest, Nelly allows Heathcliff to come and say goodbye.

He doesn’t come to the funeral despite being invited. A bit later, we find out that Edgar chooses to bury his wife in the churchyard with the view of the moors she adored.

Soon after that, Isabella sees Nelly and tells her about the horrible fights between Heathcliff and Hindley. The two men are ready to kill each other and even use the gun.

He has extinguished my love effectually, and so I’m at my ease. I can recollect yet how I loved him; and can dimly imagine that I could still be loving him, if—no, no!  Even if he had doted on me, the devilish nature would have revealed its existence somehow.

Wuthering Heights,
chapter 17

At this point in Wuthering Heights’ summary, Nelly goes a bit ahead and tells Lockwood that Isabella ran away to London. There she gave birth to a son, Linton, who was destined to be weak and sickly. The woman died twelve years later.

Half a year after Catherine’s death, Hindley follows her fate and dies. When Nelly comes to the funeral, she finds out that Hindley’s debt to Heathcliff is so huge that Wuthering Heights is now Heathcliff’s. It allows him to humiliate Hareton and put him in the position of a servant now.

Over a decade later, Cathy is a pretty and intelligent thirteen-year-old. Edgar doesn’t allow her to come any close to Wuthering Heights. One day, when he hears the news about his dying sister, he leaves his daughter under Nelly’s supervision.

The girl escapes and, on her way, comes around Hareton. They like each other instantly. Nelly finds the girl in Heathcliff’s mansion and tries to convince her to leave. Cathy refuses and wants to stay. Soon, however, she finds out that Hareton is her cousin.

As Nelly takes Cathy back, they decide not to tell Edgar about the incident.

Edgar brings Linton home, and he wants the boy to stay at Thrushcross Grange. However, the next day, Joseph comes demanding to take Linton to Wuthering Heights. Edgar promises to bring the young boy to Heathcliff the next morning.

Nelly tries to calm down Linton, reassuring him that Heathcliff is a good man. When they arrive, the master of Wuthering Heights appears to be anything but good. He treats the boy as his property and admits that he doesn’t love him. Heathcliff only wants to use him to get Thrushcross Grange.

Wuthering Heights: Chapters 21-25

Cathy is missing Linton. However, a bit later, she starts forgetting him. Only Nelly keeps an eye on Wuthering Heights to stay updated about the poor health of the boy.

Three years later, when Nelly and Cathy, now 16, go out for bird hunting. On the moors, Cathy comes across Heathcliff and Hareton. Heathcliff invites her to Wuthering Heights to meet his son.

There, it becomes clear that Heathcliff wants Cathy and Linton to get married to get his hands on Thrushcross Grange. Edgar warns the girl not to visit that family again and tries to explain the reason.

Cathy, like any other teenager, doesn’t obey and starts exchanging letters with Linton secretly. Nelly finds out about it and destroys the letters, forcing the youngsters to stop.

Catherine had reached her full height; her figure was both plump and slender, elastic as steel, and her whole aspect sparkling with health and spirits. Linton’s looks and movements were very languid, and his form extremely slight; but there was a grace in his manner that mitigated these defects, and rendered him not unpleasing.

Wuthering Heights,
chapter 21

In the winter, Edgar gets seriously ill. When Cathy goes for a walk with Nelly, her hat falls on the other side of the wall, and she is forced to go climb on the other side to get it. But she finds herself unable to climb back.

Then Heathcliff appears. He confronts her about not writing to Linton anymore. According to Heathcliff, a poor boy is nearly dying of a broken heart. Cathy feels guilty and decides to come and visit Linton when his father is away.

As soon as they meet again, Linton takes a chance to whine about his poor state of health and everybody’s attitude towards him. When he talks about marriage, Cathy gets mad and pushes his chair. Linton starts coughing and tries his best to make her feel guilty.

When Nelly gets sick as well, Cathy has to take care of both her father and Nelly. During the nights, she goes to Wuthering Heights to nurse Linton.

One day, the housekeeper finally catches Cathy and makes her confess. Then, Cathy tells everything about her visit to Wuthering Heights. During one of those visits, she doesn’t treat Hareton properly, and it makes Linton upset and mad at her. Next time, Cathy promises never to come back, but scared by this perspective, Linton begs her to forgive him.

You inquire after my health—it is better; but while I remain cut off from all hope, and doomed to solitude, or the society of those who never did and never will like me, how can I be cheerful and well?

Wuthering Heights,
chapter 25

When Cathy is done talking, Nelly immediately tells Edgar everything. He is obviously against it and forbids the young lady to go to Wuthering Heights ever again. However, he doesn’t mind Linton visiting her sometimes.

At this point in Wuthering Heights chapter summaries, Nelly stops her story once again. She notes that the last part of it took place just around a year ago. For her, it feels weird to retell the whole chronology of these families to a stranger. However, if Lockwood falls in love with Cathy, he can’t be a stranger anymore. Mr. Lockwood doesn’t deny this suggestion.

The housekeeper picks up the story where she left it. So despite Edgar’s permission, Linton can’t come to see Cathy because he is too weak. Not wanting to prevent his daughter from being happy, Edgar gives Cathy his blessing and allows her to see Linton on the moors.

Lockwood finds out that, at the same time, Linton was close to death as well as Edgar.

Wuthering Heights: Chapters 26-30

Cathy hopes to meet Linton on the moors, but instead, she finds him closer to Wuthering Heights. He is too weak to walk any further, even though he says that he feels better.

Linton seems to be worried about something, looking at Wuthering Heights most of the time. He and Cathy agree to meet at the same spot later. On their way back home, Nelly and Cathy talk about how concerned they are about Linton’s health.

The next time Cathy comes to see Linton, Heathcliff also arrives. He pushes them to come to Wuthering Heights with him. Even though Cathy doubts because of her father’s wish, she agrees. She sees how afraid of Heathcliff Linton is.

When Nelly and Cathy arrive at Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff locks them in the house. He threatens to keep them there until Cathy agrees to marry Linton. Nelly stays in the room, guarded by Hareton, for a few days.

Nelly manages to escape, finds out that Cathy and Linton are married now, and returns to Thrushcross Grange. A bit later, Linton helps Cathy run away and asks for a lawyer because he wants to change his will. He plans to leave everything to trustees so that Heathcliff can’t have Edgar’s inheritance.

Cathy spends the last hours with her dying father. When Mr. Green, the lawyer, arrives, he tries to bury Edgar in the chapel, but Nelly insists that it was his will to be buried near his wife.

I am going to her; and you, darling child, shall come to us!

Wuthering Heights,
chapter 28

Heathcliff arrives after the funeral to take Cathy back to Wuthering Heights. Disgusted by him but unable to rebel, she packs and leaves with him. Heathcliff doesn’t allow the housekeeper to come with her, though.

Nelly then says that she hasn’t seen Cathy since then. She could only get some news from their housekeeper Zillah. Cathy was taking care of Linton until he died. Everybody, following Heathcliff’s wish, stays cold with her.

Meanwhile, Lockwood feels better and is going to come to Wuthering Heights last time before traveling to London. He wants to escape all the disturbing family issues of both houses.

Wuthering Heights: Chapters 30-34

Half a year later, Mr. Lockwood happens to come by that area again. It surprises him to know that Cathy and Hareton are now in love. Despite being on the lower level of education, Hareton appears to be kind and noble.

Heathcliff can finally let go of the revenge and dies soon. According to his wish, he is buried next to Catherine, on the other side of Edgar.

Deliberated, Cathy and Hareton get married and think about moving to Thrushcross Grange.

We hope that the above summary of Wuthering Heights is useful. If you want to learn more about the novel’s meaning, check out the Analysis section. And if you’re looking for exciting essay ideas on the story, please read this article

🔗 References

Comments