Mr. Lockwood takes up residence at Thrushcross Grange, right down the road from Wuthering Heights. He falls ill and inquires about the history of the two houses and their inhabitants. His servant, Nelly Dean, is happy to oblige.
The novel's protagonist, Heathcliff, is brought to Wuthering Heights by its owner, Mr. Earnshaw. Earnshaw favors Heathcliff, and by so doing alienates his oldest son Hindley. Hindley becomes more alienated as Heathcliff and Hindley's sister, Catherine become inseparable. Hindley never fails to torment Heathcliff. As a result, Mr. Earnshaw sends Hindley away to college. After Earnshaw dies, Hindley returns, with a wife, and begins his revenge on Heathcliff by ending his education, making him a servant, and forbidding Catherine and Heathcliff from associating.
Heathcliff becomes a dirty laborer. Despite her love for Heathcliff, Catherine marries Edgar Linton. Heathcliff leaves the Heights and returns 3-1/2 years later having made his fortune. Catherine dies. Heathcliff feels it is Edgar's fault and plots revenge on anyone he feels prevented him from being with Catherine.