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Wuthering Heights Summary


The novel begins with Mr. Lockwood, a man who goes to Wuthering Heights in search of solitude. During his stay, Lockwood is treated badly by Heathcliff, Hareton and Cathy who are the inhabitants of the house. One night he discovers Catherine Earnshaw’s diary and upon reading it he gets an idea of how Hindly abused and mistreated Heathcliff, and also an idea of the close relationship between Catherine and Heathcliff.

Lockwood then sleeps and has an encounter with the supernatural in the form of a nightmare, where he breaks open a window to get some fresh air, only to be met with the ghost of Catherine Linton who says that she’s been “ awaif for twenty years” and repeatedly howls the words “ Let Me In”.

Lockwood falls sick shortly after and is tended to by the housekeeper Nelly Dean. His curiosity sparked by the strange happenings in Wuthering Heights is satisfied when Nelly Dean assumes the role of the narrator, being the all-knowing servant and begins to tell the story of the Lintons, the Earnshaws and Heathcliff.

The conflict starts when Mr. Earnshaw, the father of Catherine Earnshaw and Hindly Earnshaw brings home Heathcliff, a poor boy he found in Liverpool in a fairly bad state. Heathcliff is treated as an outsider by the other children including Nelly Dean. Mr. Earnshaw however, favored Heathcliff over his own son causing Hindly to hate Heathcliff even more.

Hindly constantly abused Heathcliff and beat him and left him bruised, which he would constantly be punished for by his father. Cathy bonded with Heathcliff as they both had a wild soul in common and often played together in the moors and developed a very passionate and close relationship.

Unfortunately, Mr. Earnshaw’s death would soon leave Hindly in charge of Wuthering Heights and Heathcliff left unprotected and treated as a servant. Hindly became the owner of Thrushcross Grange and married Frances and became preoccupied with his beloved wife. Meanwhile, Cathy and Heathcliff were left to enjoy their wildness in the moors.

The complication of the plot begins when Heathcliff and Cathy go to Thrushcross Grange, a beautiful and exquisite estate where the Lintons lived. While Cathy and Heathcliff watched Edgar and Isabella Linton through the window, Cathy let out a laugh that alerted the dogs at the estate. As they ran away, the hounds were set on them and ended up biting Cathy. The Lintons took Cathy in and nurtured her to wellness.

Upon associating with the Lintons, Cathy becomes socially ambitious and begins to withdraw herself from Heathcliff’s company and etching herself closer to Edgar Linton. Cathy not only withdraws from Heathcliff but also withdraws from the wildness within herself. Cathy would try to behave in a classy and ladylike manner but could not conceal her wild and  barbaric nature. In the presence of Edgar, Nelly refused to leave Cathy alone, as those were her orders. In a moment of anger, Cathy pinches Nelly on the arm and slaps her on the face.

Upon witnessing the vulgar change, Edgar sets out to leave in shame and embarrassment of her behavior. However, he was too in love with her to do so and ended up succumbing the love he has for her. Among the events that take place in the complicating action of the plot, is that of the death of Frances, Hindly’s wife. Before her death, Frances gave birth to Hareton Earnshaw, who would then be the only remaining Earnshaw left. Frances’ death would leave Hindly as bitter as ever as he became an abusive drunk.

Meanwhile Edgar Linton proposes to Cathy and though she says yes, she is in doubt of her decision as she confides in Nelly. When asked why she loved Edgar, she mentions that she loves him because he was handsome, rich and loves her. However, when asked what the problem was, she confesses to being in love with Heathcliff, saying that her and Heathcliff are one “I am Heathcliff”.

However, her hunger for a gentile life leads her to choose Edgar Linton as her husband, knowing full well that her love for Heathcliff although strong, cannot give her what she truly wants. Cathy confesses this to Nelly and Heathcliff upon overhearing this confession, flees Wuthering Heights and disappears for three years.

The novel reaches a climax as Heathcliff returns as the proud owner of Wuthering Heights after Hindly loses it due to his reckless behavior following his wife’s death. He returns to find Cathy as the lady of Thrushcross Grange and married to Edgar Linton. Cathy and Heathcliff’s passionate reunion is short lived, as Cathy wants Heathcliff and Edgar to coexist, while each wanting her solely for himself.

Their constant arguing leads Cathy to starve herself, fall ill and die just after giving birth to Catherine Linton. Meanwhile, Heathcliff marries Isabella under the pretence of love, but ends up abusing her as a form of revenge against Edgar. Isabella, being disowned from her brother, decides to flee Wuthering Heights pregnant with Linton Heathcliff.

After that, Heathcliff  takes his revenge on the second generation. He treats Hindly’s son, Hareton, as Hindly had treated him,as a low servant. He deprives him of education, while granting his own son, Linton, a more dignified life. He then plots against Edgar Linton by scheming, then forcing an arranged marriage between her and his son. They both marry, and soon Edgar Linton as well as Linton Heathcliff, fall ill and die. Heathcliff then owns Thrushcross Grange and Wuthering Heights.

Cathy and Hareton begin to bond , as she shows kindness towards him by educating him. They both begin to share a passion similar to the generation before them. However, their love is not built on hate and revenge but rather on kindness and sympathy. The resolution happens when Heathcliff starves himself to death and is said to haunt the moors with his beloved Cathy. Meanwhile, the two properties are reverted to their rightful owners, Cathy and Hareton.