This great novel by Emily
Bronte, though not inordinately long is an
amalgamation of childhood fantasies, friendship,
romance and revenge. It seems to explain the circle of
life, where the two families are finally restored
their rights in the end. It seems to signify that the
play of our imaginations has much to do with our
childish fantasies and may in fact be inseparable from
The story is in a narrative form, told to us by a Mr.
Lockwood, the new tenant at Thrushcross Grange. The
novel opens with Mr. Lockwood telling us about his
first visit to Wuthering Heights, where Mr. Heathcliff
his present landlord now resides. We are told of the
unsociable nature of Mr. Heathcliff and of the other
inhabitants of Wuthering Heights. We are also told of the
ghostly specter of the elder Catherine which Mr. Lockwood
encounters on his second visit to the Heights where is compelled
to spend the night compelled by the turbulent weather.
It is these strange events which
prompt him on his return to Thrushcross Grange to ask
his housekeeper Nelly Dean about the history of
Wuthering Heights. As it turns out Nelly Dean was
originally a servant at Wuthering Heights and is aware
of its intimate history, which she then proceeds to
narrate to Mr. Lockwood.
The main story begins a few chapters later and we are
told of how the senior Mr. Earnshaw returns home one
evening bringing with him a dark, gypsy child who he
has found on his way back from Liverpool. At first the
entire family rebels against keeping the gypsychild
and refuses to have it in the room with them. But Mr.
Earnshaw insists on keeping the child and he is
christened Heathcliff, a name that serves him as a
first and last name throughout the novel. Soon Mr.
Earnshaw's daughter, Catherine takes an immense liking
to him and they become the best of friends. But his
elder son Hindley takes an intense dislike to the boy,
who is about his younger sister's age, because he is
of the opinion that his father likes the boy a lot
more than his real children. He avails every
opportunity to behave in a spiteful manner towards
him. This hatred for Heathcliff continues till the day
of his death.
The senior Earnshaw's health begins to fail slowly.
Hindley is sent away to college for a short period of
time and returns only on the death of his father with
his newly wedded wife, who he is immensely fond of.
Catherine and Heathcliff are allowed to run wild and
are uncared for by their brother. One evening to
escape Hindley's tyranny, they go for a secret outing
and happen to reach the Thrushcross Grange which is
the neighboring house. They peep into the window and
are surprised to see the stark contrast between this
house and their own. They see a splendid place
carpeted with crimson, and crimson colored chairs and
tables, and a pure white ceiling bordered with gold.
They are so absorbed in looking at this sight that
don't notice the approach of the watchdog who catches
hold of Catherine's ankle. When the Linton's discover
that their neighbor's daughter has been bitten by
their dog they show great sympathy towards her but
poor Heathcliff is called a villain, insulted and sent
back to Wuthering heights. Catherine stays on at
Thrushcross Grange for many days and on her return is
transformed into a perfect little lady, much to the
horror of Heathcliff, who she keeps criticizing for
his untidiness. The Linton children, Edgar and
Isabelle now start to pay regular visits to the Grange
and invariably criticize Heathcliff or get him into
A son is born to Hindley and is christened Hareton.
Soon after Hindley's wife dies of consumption and so
shattered is Hindley that he takes to drinking and
gambling. Catherine is quite grown up and Edgar is
quite in love with her and she takes full advantage of
his affections to act as spoiled as possible with him.
One evening Hindley returns home drunk and is
displeased because his son does not come to welcome
him. In a fit of rage he holds him over the banisters,
threatening to throw him down the stairs, when
suddenly he looses his grip on him and falls from his
hand. But as luck would have it Heathcliff arrives
underneath and rescues him. So in a way Hindley is in
debt to Heathcliff for saving his son.
One evening Catherine tells Nelly Dean that Edgar
Linton has proposed to her and asks her for advice.
Nelly Dean asks her why she loves Edgar, for which she
has no satisfactory explanation. It is then that she
tells Nelly about her true feelings. 'I've no more
business to marry Edgar Linton than I have to be in
heaven: and if the wicked man in there (Hindley) had
not brought Heathcliff so low, I shouldn't have
thought of it. It would degrade me to marry Heathcliff
now. So he shall never know how I love him; and that's
not because he's handsome Nelly, but because he's more
myself than I am.' Unknown to them, Heathcliff is
overhearing their conversation. But he only stays
until the part where Catherine says she would be
degraded in marrying him. Then he is so upset by this
insult that he runs away and is not heard of for many
years. Catherine is very upset when she realizes that
Heathcliff has run away and gets very ill. Mrs. Linton
takes her to Thrushcross Grange and nurses her back to
health. But to their misfortune the couple contracts
Catherine's illness and die soon after.
Three years later, Edgar and Catherine are married.
Nelly Dean is sent to stay with Catherine at the
Grange. Hindley continues to live at Wuthering Heights
with a few male servants. For some period of time
Catherine seems to be happy at the Grange. Her husband
and Isabelle pamper and spoil her completely. However
at times she experiences bouts of gloom and silence
and becomes ill tempered and touch. But on the whole
there is peace and happiness in the Linton household.
And so this continues until the sudden reappearance of
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of the summary of Wuthering Heights