Wuthering Heights Key Plot Points
by Emily Brontë

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Key Plot Points

Mr. Lockwood Sees a Ghost (Chapters 1–3): Mr. Lockwood has rented Thrushcross Grange in Yorkshire. He is intrigued by his landlord, Mr. Heathcliff, who lives in a manor called Wuthering Heights. Lockwood spends the night at Wuthering Heights after suffering a nosebleed, which was caused by Heathcliff’s dogs. Heathcliff’s housekeeper, Zillah, escorts Lockwood to a room that Heathcliff forbids anyone from entering. Lockwood finds three names etched into the wooden bedframe: Catherine Earnshaw, Catherine Heathcliff, and Catherine Linton. He also reads an entry from Catherine Earnshaw’s diary. While he sleeps, he dreams about the window breaking and a child grabbing his hand from outside. The child says she is Catherine Linton and that she has been trying to get inside the room for 20 years. He yells, and Heathcliff bursts into the room, angry that Lockwood is sleeping there. He is outraged when Lockwood, who is distraught from the dream, says that Catherine Linton should be punished. Heathcliff weeps, opens the window, and calls for Catherine to come inside.

Nelly Begins Telling Mr. Lockwood About Heathcliff’s Story (Chapter 4): Ellen—or Nelly—Dean, Mr. Lockwood’s housekeeper, tells the story of how Heathcliff came to own Wuthering Heights. The manor belonged to an old family called the Earnshaws, the patriarch of which adopted Heathcliff after finding him as a child on the streets of Liverpool. Mr. Earnshaw’s daughter, Catherine, liked Heathcliff right away, but his son, Hindley, hated him. The children’s mother frequently sided with Hindley whenever he and Heathcliff fought. She died only two years after Heathcliff moved to Wuthering Heights.

Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw Grow Close (Chapter 5): The story shifts to Nelly’s perspective as she recounts Heathcliff’s past: As Mr. Earnshaw’s health declines, he sends Hindley away to college, because he is intolerant of his son’s abuse of Heathcliff. Meanwhile, Heathcliff and Catherine become quite close. They comfort each other on the night of Mr. Earnshaw’s death as a storm rages outside.

Catherine Stays with the Lintons (Chapter 6): Hindley returns to Wuthering Heights with his new wife, Frances, and promptly orders Heathcliff to perform manual labor instead of continuing his education. Heathcliff and Catherine carry on as before, running around on the moors. Late one night, however, Heathcliff returns without her. He and Catherine were spying on Edgar and Isabella Linton when their laughing caught the Lintons’ attention. They tried to run away, but one of the Lintons’ dogs bit Catherine’s foot. Upon learning that Catherine is an Earnshaw, the Lintons insisted that she stay with them until her foot healed. However, they sent Heathcliff away because they did not like his appearance. Mr. Linton visits Hindley the next day and scolds him for allowing her to run around on the moors. Hindley is embarrassed and blames Heathcliff, forbidding him to see or to speak to Catherine ever again.

Catherine Marries Edgar Linton (Chapters 7–9): Catherine remains with the Lintons for five weeks and continues to spend time with them after returning to Wuthering Heights. The Lintons look on Heathcliff disparagingly. Edgar insults Heathcliff’s appearance, and Heathcliff throws applesauce in Edgar’s face. After Hindley locks Heathcliff in the attic, Heathcliff swears to Nelly that he will have revenge on Edgar. That summer, Hindley’s wife dies after giving birth to their son, Hareton, and Hindley descends into depression and alcoholism. Catherine continues to see the Lintons, behaving like a proper lady in their company but resuming her rambunctious behavior when she is with Heathcliff. She now treats Heathcliff as though he were beneath her, but she loves him. She agrees to marry Edgar, telling Nelly that marrying Heathcliff would be degrading. Heathcliff overhears the conversation but disappears before he can hear Catherine talk about how much she loves...

(The entire section is 2,260 words.)