Wuthering Heights: Chapters 1-5 Summary.

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Chapter 1

   "But Mr. Heathcliff forms a singular contrast to his abode and style of living. He is a dark-skinned gypsy in aspect, in dress and manners a gentleman...."

   Writing in his diary in 1801, Lockwood describes his first days as a tenant at Thrushcross Grange, an isolated manor in thinly populated Yorkshire. Shortly after arriving at the Grange, he pays a visit to his landlord, Mr. Heathcliff, a surly, dark man living in a manor called Wuthering Heights—“wuthering” being a local adjective used to describe the fierce and wild winds that blow during storms on the moors. During the visit, Heathcliff seems not to trust Lockwood, and leaves him alone in a room with a group of snarling dogs. Lockwood is saved from the hounds by a ruddy-cheeked housekeeper. When Heathcliff returns, Lockwood is angry, but eventually warms toward his taciturn host, and—though he hardly feels that he has been welcomed at Wuthering Heights—he volunteers to visit again the next day.

Chapter 2

    On a chilly afternoon not long after his first visit, Lockwood plans to lounge before the fire in his study, but he finds a servant dustily sweeping out the fireplace there, so instead he makes the four-mile walk to Wuthering Heights, arriving just as a light snow begins to fall. He knocks, but no one lets him in, and Joseph, an old servant who speaks with a thick Yorkshire accent, calls out from the barn that Heathcliff is not in the house. Eventually a rough-looking young man comes to let him in, and Lockwood goes into a sitting room where he finds a beautiful girl seated beside a fire. Lockwood assumes she is Heathcliff’s wife. He tries to make conversation, but she responds rudely. When Heathcliff arrives, he corrects Lockwood: the young woman is his daughter-in-law. Lockwood then assumes that the young man who let him in must be Heathcliff’s son. Heathcliff corrects him again. The young man, Hareton Earnshaw, is not his son, and the girl is the widow of Heathcliff’s dead son.

    The snowfall becomes a blizzard, and when Lockwood is ready to leave, he is forced to ask for a guide back to Thrushcross Grange. No one will help him. He takes a lantern and says that he will find his own way, promising to return with the lantern in the morning. Joseph, seeing him make his way through the snow, assumes that he is stealing the lantern, and looses the dogs on him. Pinned down by the dogs, Lockwood grows furious, and begins cursing the inhabitants of the house. His anger brings on a nosebleed, and he is forced to stay at Wuthering Heights. The housekeeper, Zillah, leads him to bed.

Chapter 3

    "Catherine Earnshaw.... Catherine Heathcliff.... Catherine Linton.... a glare of

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