Wuthering Heights | Study Guide

Emily Brontë

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Course Hero. "Wuthering Heights Study Guide." Course Hero. 29 Sep. 2016. Web. 21 Sep. 2018. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Wuthering-Heights/>.

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Course Hero. "Wuthering Heights Study Guide." September 29, 2016. Accessed September 21, 2018. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Wuthering-Heights/.

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Course Hero, "Wuthering Heights Study Guide," September 29, 2016, accessed September 21, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Wuthering-Heights/.

Wuthering Heights | Plot Summary

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Summary

In 1801 a gentleman from the city, Mr. Lockwood, rents Thrushcross Grange, an estate located deep in the wild English countryside of Yorkshire. He sets out to meet his landlord, Heathcliff, who lives at Wuthering Heights, an estate across the moors. Intrigued by the odd behavior of the residents at Wuthering Heights, who appear to have no respect for social customs, Mr. Lockwood returns the next day, arriving as it begins to snow. The weather forces Mr. Lockwood to spend the night there in a bedroom, which turns out to be haunted by a ghost named Cathy. Mr. Lockwood's screams bring Heathcliff into the room. Strangely, Heathcliff cries out for Cathy's ghost to come inside.

The next morning Mr. Lockwood makes his way through the snow back to Thrushcross Grange. Struck with an illness requiring him to stay in bed, Mr. Lockwood draws Mrs. Dean, a servant, into telling Heathcliff's life story. Having served at Wuthering Heights since childhood, Mrs. Dean eagerly launches into the tale, beginning when Heathcliff is first brought home by Mr. Earnshaw from a trip to Liverpool. Mr. Earnshaw has found the homeless orphan boy on the street there, taken him to Wuthering Heights, and named him Heathcliff after his son who died. In Mrs. Dean's narration, Mr. Earnshaw's wife and children, Cathy and Hindley, despise Heathcliff immediately for being a dark-haired "gipsy" with an ill-natured temperament.

Mr. Earnshaw's favoritism toward Heathcliff drives Hindley to violence and hatred, but Cathy and Heathcliff become friends, running wild on the moors and playing and studying together. Hindley is sent to college but returns with a wife when his father dies. As new master of Wuthering Heights he uses his power to turn Heathcliff into a servant, but Cathy shares her studies with Heathcliff, and they continue to play together on the moors.

One night Cathy and Heathcliff sneak over to Thrushcross Grange to spy on the wealthy, blond and blue-eyed Linton children, Isabella and Edgar, curious to see how they live. A dog bites Cathy, and the children are caught. The Lintons take Cathy in but send Heathcliff home, rejecting him because of his lower class status and "gipsy" background. When Cathy returns five weeks later, she has transformed into an upper-class woman, with proper manners and elegant clothes. She and Heathcliff become distant as Cathy and Edgar grow closer. Cathy accepts Edgar's marriage proposal even though she confesses her deep love for Heathcliff to Mrs. Dean. Heathcliff overhears only part of their conversation and runs away in humiliation. Cathy is distraught over his disappearance. Three years later, right after Cathy marries Edgar Linton, Heathcliff returns. He has transformed into a wealthy, attractive man with the manners and appearance of a gentleman.

Heathcliff has returned to wreak revenge for all the wrongs done to him in childhood. Hindley's wife has died, leaving him to raise their child, Hareton. Hindley has cursed God and become an abusive alcoholic. Through gambling with Hindley, Heathcliff takes control of Wuthering Heights and manipulates Hareton to love him more than his own father.

Heathcliff visits Cathy at Thrushcross Grange, and they become close friends again, confessing love for each other, but also respecting Cathy's marriage to Edgar. All seems well until Edgar's sister, Isabella, develops a one-sided crush on Heathcliff, who uses her to wreak revenge on Edgar for his childhood snobbery. Heathcliff marries Isabella and spitefully abuses and degrades her. Cathy is driven to madness when Heathcliff is forbidden to visit her because of a fight between him and Edgar. Pregnant with Edgar's child, Cathy fades into gloom and darkness. She and Heathcliff have one last passionate meeting in which they berate each other for not staying together. Cathy dies later that night after giving birth to her daughter, Catherine.

Soon after Cathy's death, Isabella runs away and has Heathcliff's baby. She raises their son, Linton, alone, near London. Edgar raises Catherine alone at Thrushcross Grange. Hindley dies, and Heathcliff raises Hareton alone at Wuthering Heights. Continuing his vengeance even after Hindley's death, Heathcliff raises Hareton to be an uneducated servant instead of an upper-class gentleman according to his station, forcing on Hareton the degrading existence that Hindley forced on Heathcliff as a young man.

As a child, Catherine meets Hareton one day when they are both out on the moors, and their dogs fight. Catherine likes Hareton until she finds out that he is a servant and her cousin. When Catherine is almost thirteen, Isabella dies, and Linton comes to live at Thrushcross Grange, but Heathcliff demands to raise his own son and forces Linton to live at Wuthering Heights. Linton is a sickly, pampered child. Heathcliff uses him to gain control of Thrushcross Grange as Edgar is dying by forcing Linton and Catherine to marry. Soon after their marriage, Catherine nurses Linton as he dies.

Afterward, she and Hareton, whom Catherine has always despised, finally become friends. Haunted by Cathy's memory for eighteen years, Heathcliff loses his will to live and declines into an early death; he is found lying beside an open window in his room as the rain pours in. Heathcliff fails to deliver the final blow to make his revenge complete. Catherine and Hareton regain their estates, Thrushcross Grange and Wuthering Heights respectively. As Mr. Lockwood finds out, they are now free, have fallen in love, and plan to marry.

Wuthering Heights Plot Diagram

123456789101112131415ClimaxResolutionIntroductionRising ActionFalling Action

Introduction

1 Mr. Lockwood sees Cathy's ghost at Wuthering Heights.

Rising Action

2 Heathcliff is adopted into the Earnshaw family.

3 Hindley forces Heathcliff to become a servant.

4 Heathcliff runs away because Cathy says something mean.

5 Heathcliff returns to take revenge.

6 Heathcliff and Edgar's fight causes Cathy's illness.

7 Heathcliff marries Isabella.

8 Cathy dies and Isabella leaves.

9 Heathcliff takes control of Linton to continue his revenge.

10 Heathcliff makes Linton and Catherine marry; Linton dies.

Climax

11 Heathcliff dies without completing his revenge.

Falling Action

12 Mr. Lockwood returns; Catherine owns Thrushcross Grange.

13 Catherine and Hareton become friends and fall in love.

14 How Heathcliff dies is revealed to Mr. Lockwood.

Resolution

15 Catherine and Hareton will marry on New Year's Day.

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