Lockwood is a tenant of Heathcliff's, renting Thrushcross Grange. As a conventional and outgoing person, he acts as a foil to the strange, fierce landlord he has unwittingly fallen in with. Lockwood tells us that, prior to arriving there, he had been at the seashore where he met a "real goddess" but froze up after she showed a response to his advances: "I ... shrunk icily into myself, like a snail." He was thus perceived as leading her on and gained a reputation for "deliberate heartlessness."
Lockwood tries to be friendly to Heathcliff, at first assessing him a "capital" fellow. However, when Heathcliff's dogs pin him to the ground as Heathcliff laughs at him, Lockwood begins to get more and more agitated. When he is trapped at Wuthering Heights for the night, he finds an old diary in the room in which he sleeps, and he sees the names Catherine Earnshaw and Catherine Heathcliff carved into the windowsill. He reads Catherine's few diary entries and that night dreams Catherine is trying to get in through the window. He also witnesses Heathcliff crying out to her.
When Lockwood gets sick at Thrushcross Grange, he persuades the servant Nelly to tell him the story of Catherine and Heathcliff, about whom he has become curious. An intense and unusual tale unfolds for him--and for us.