In the latter part of the winter of 1801, a man named Lockwood rents a manor home in England’s remote moor country known as Thrushcross Grange. Here, he is introduced to his gloomy landlord, Heathcliff, a wealthy individual who resides in the historic estate of Wuthering Heights, which is located approximately four miles distant from the Grange. Lockwood approaches his housekeeper, Nelly Dean, and requests that she tell him the tale of Heathcliff and the peculiar locals of Wuthering Heights. The setting is amid the wild and windy countryside. After Nelly gives her permission, Lockwood writes down his recollections of her story in his diary. The majority of Wuthering Heights is comprised of Lockwood’s recorded recollections.
Nelly often thinks back to her younger years. She begins her career in the domestic service industry at the age of ten, when she is employed at Wuthering Heights as a maid by Mr. Earnshaw and his family. One day, Mr. Earnshaw travels to Liverpool, and when he gets back to his house, he brings back an orphan boy with him to nurture together with his own kids. At first, Hindley and Catherine Earnshaw, two of the Earnshaw children, had a strong aversion to Heathcliff because of his dark complexion. Catherine is Hindley’s younger sister. But Catherine falls in love with him almost immediately, and before long the two of them are inseparable, spending their days together having adventures on the moors. After the loss of his wife, Mr. Earnshaw develops a preference for Heathcliff over his own son, Hindley. When Hindley continues to be harsh to Heathcliff, Mr. Earnshaw decides to send Hindley away to college while he chooses to keep Heathcliff close by.
After another three years, Mr. Earnshaw passes away, and Hindley becomes the new owner of Wuthering Heights. He comes back with his new bride, Frances, and immediately begins plotting his vengeance against Heathcliff. Heathcliff was once an orphan and then a spoiled and beloved son; now, he is now compelled to work as a common labourer and is being treated in this capacity for the first time in his life. However, Heathcliff maintains a strong bond with Catherine throughout the story. One evening, they decide to go to Thrushcross Grange in the hopes of making fun of Edgar and Isabella Linton, the arrogant and timid children who dwell there. After being bitten by a dog, Catherine is compelled to recuperate at the Grange for a period of five weeks. During this time, Mrs. Linton works diligently to mould Catherine into a well-mannered young girl. When Catherine finally does return, she has developed a crush on Edgar, and the dynamics of her relationship with Heathcliff have gotten more problematic.
Hindley spirals downward into the depths of drunkenness after the death of Frances, who had just given birth to a son named Hareton, and his behaviour toward Heathcliff becomes even more harsh and abusive as a result. In spite of the fact that she is hopelessly in love with Heathcliff, Catherine eventually becomes engaged to Edgar Linton in order to fulfil her ambitions of climbing the social ladder. Heathcliff leaves Wuthering Heights, remaining absent for three years before coming back not long after Catherine and Edgar had tied the knot.
As soon as Heathcliff gets back from his trip, he gets right to work plotting his vengeance against everyone who has mistreated him. After coming into a great and mysterious amount of cash, he dishonestly lends money to Hindley while he is intoxicated. He does this with the knowledge that Hindley will rack up more debt and sink farther into depression. After Hindley passes away, Heathcliff is given ownership of the manor. By marrying Isabella Linton, who he is quite unkind to, he puts himself in a position to inherit Thrushcross Grange. Additionally, he is exceedingly nasty to Isabella Linton. Catherine falls unwell, gives birth to a daughter, and then passes away shortly after. Heathcliff begs for her soul to stay on Earth with him, saying that she can assume any form she wants, that she can torment him and drive him crazy, as long as she does not leave him by himself. Soon after that, Isabella runs away to London, where she gives birth to Heathcliff’s baby, whom she honours by naming Linton after her own family. There, she keeps the boy confined with her at all times.
There is a lapse of time of thirteen years during which time Nelly Dean works at Thrushcross Grange as a nursemaid for Catherine’s daughter. The young Catherine has inherited her mother’s beauty and her mother’s feistiness, but her father’s more even-keeled nature has had a moderating effect on her temperament. Young Catherine spends her childhood in the Grange and is oblivious to the existence of Wuthering Heights. One day, however, while she is out exploring the moors, she stumbles onto the mansion, where she encounters Hareton and begins to play with him. Shortly after that, Isabella passes away, and soon after that, Linton moves in with Heathcliff. Heathcliff is far more brutal to his sick and whiny son than he was to the boy’s mother when he was raising him.
After three years have passed, Catherine goes to Wuthering Heights to see Linton and runs into Heathcliff while she is out walking on the moors. She and Linton embark on a covert correspondence-only romance in the beginning of the relationship. After Nelly burns Catherine’s collection of letters, the young girl starts sneaking away at night to spend time with her sickly young lover, who begs her to come back and help nurse him back to health. Nelly finds out about this and confronts Catherine about her behaviour. It is quickly made clear, however, that the only reason Linton is pursuing Catherine is because Heathcliff is pressuring him to do so. Heathcliff harbours the hope that if Catherine marries Linton, he will be able to successfully stake a legal claim on Thrushcross Grange and finally exact his revenge on Edgar Linton.
One day, as Edgar Linton’s illness worsens and he draws closer to death, Heathcliff entices Nelly and Catherine to return to Wuthering Heights, where he holds them captive until Catherine weds Linton. Catherine’s marriage to Linton is contingent on Heathcliff’s actions. Edgar passes away not long after the wedding, and his passing is swiftly followed by that of the ailing Linton. Both of their deaths occur relatively quickly after one another. Both Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange are under Heathcliff’s power at this point. Catherine is forced to live at Wuthering Heights and work as a common servant while he rents Thrushcross Grange to Lockwood. He does this while he simultaneously rents out Thrushcross Grange.
When Nelly arrives in the present, her tale comes to a close. Lockwood, horrified by the news, decided to terminate his tenancy at Thrushcross Grange and move back to London. On the other hand, six months later, he pays Nelly a visit and finds out more about what has transpired since their last encounter. Catherine develops feelings of affection for Hareton over the course of their time spent together at Wuthering Heights, despite the fact that she initially made fun of Hareton for his lack of intelligence and illiteracy (Heathcliff ended Hareton’s education as an act of vengeance after Hindley’s death). Heathcliff’s fixation on the recollection of the older Catherine grows to the point where he starts having conversations with her hereafter self. Everything that he sees brings back memories of her. Heathcliff passes away not long after returning from a night spent wandering on the moors. In the end, Hareton and young Catherine are the ones who end up inheriting Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange, and they have every intention of getting married on New Year’s Day the following year. Lockwood, upon learning how the tale concludes, pays a visit to the cemetery to pay his respects at the graves of Catherine and Heathcliff.