1. Lockwood first visits his unfriendly landlord Heathcliff at Wuthering Heights.
2. Lockwood pays a second visit, on which he is treated even more rudely.
3. Lockwood reads Catherine Earnshaw (Linton)'s diary, dreams of Catherine as a child-waif, and rejects the waif's entry into the house. On hearing his cries, Heathcliff enters and grieves for Catherine's absence.
4. Nellie Dean begins to recount the history of the Earnshaw and Linton families, beginning with Heathcliff's entry into the family, and his mistreatment by Hindley and others.
5. After Mrs. Earnshaw dies, Mr. Earnshaw ages swiftly, and quarrels with all the members of this family except Heathcliff. He repeatedly rejects Catherine's advances; in a moment of partial truce, she sits with him as he dies.
6. After his father's death, Hindley marries a frivolous and frail wife. She shares her husband's dislike for Heathcliff, and the latter is denied education and reduced to menial labor. Driven outdoors by hostility, Catherine and Heathcliff roam the heath together and gaze into the windows of Thrushcross Grange. When a dog bites Catherine, the Lintons take her indoors, but Heathcliff is sternly rejected.
7. When Catherine returns home, she criticizes Heathcliff for his appearance. He becomes anxious at her social contacts with the Lintons, and grooms himself more carefully. Unfotunately Edgar insults him on a visit, and Heathcliff responds by throwing a tureen at the latter; later he tells Nellie of his desire to revenge himself on Hindley for the degradation which has severed Catherine from him.
The narrative is interrupted while Lockwood praises Nellie Dean's sagacity and she notes that she is well-read, thus confirming the reliability of her account for the novel's middle-class audience.
8. Frances Earnshaw dies in giving birth to Hareton, and Hindley degenerates into alcoholism and violence. Catherine insults Heathcliff for stupidity before a planned visit from Edgar. During the ensuing visit she pinches Nellie when the later remains in the drawing room, then strikes Edgar when he defends Hareton for protesting. To Nellie's dismay, Edgar nonetheless forgives her and begins courtship. (Thus an ill-fated union begins inauspiciously with violence.)
9. Hindley nearly kills his son Hareton; Catherine agrees to marry Edgar, but concurrently declares to Nellie her eternal identity with Heathcliff--"I am Heathcliff"--an emotion on which she doesn't act.
Unaware of her "love" for him, Heathcliff flees, his depature signaled by the fall of a great tree. Catherine sickens at his absence, then marries Edgar. Unwillingly Nellie accompanies her mistress to Thrushcross Grange, leaving an uncared-for Hareton.
10. After an unexplained absence, Heathcliff returns with a more cultivated manner, and settles at Wuthering Heights with the drunken Hindley. Delighted by Heathcliff's return, Catherine quarrels with her husband. Isabella Linton is inexplicably attracted to Heathcliff, and Catherine humiliates her by informing him of her interest.
11. Heathcliff sets Hareton against Hindley, and the latter loses his fortune through gambling at cards with Heathcliff. On a visit to Catherine, Heathcliff for the first time complains that he has been ill-used. When Nellie tells Edgar that the two have also discussed the possibility of his union with Isabella, Linton confronts him and the two fight. Catherine resolves to punish both by becoming sick, foams at the mouth, and locks herself in her room. Heathcliff meanwhile courts Isabella to gain revenge on Edgar, and because she is a potential heir to the latter's fortune.
12. Nellie conceals from both men the severity of Catherine's condition, and from Catherine the depth of Edgar's concern for her. As Catherine weakens she becomes frightened and depressed, terrified of the empty mirror and the face of death which she sees therein. When they finally meet, both Edgar and Catherine blame Nellie for concealing her condition from him. At this inopportune moment, Isabella elopes with Heathcliff, thus jeopardizing the estate as well as her happiness.
13. Under Edgar's attentions Catherine mends somewhat; she is pregnant, and the birth of a male heir is now necessary to secure Edgar's lands from Heathcliff. Isabella sends a pathetic letter recounting her husband's brutality and refusal to share a room with his wife.
14. Nellie visits Isabella, and learns from Heathcliff of his cruelty to her and his determination to visit Catherine. Astoundingly Nellie consents to permit his entry, in part because "it might create a favorable crisis in Catherine's mental illness."
15. Heathcliff visits Catherine, and after mutual complaints and recriminations the two embrace. As Edgar approaches, she collapses, and she dies soon afterwards.
16. Nellie walks outside to give the lingering Heathcliff a pious account of Catherine's death. In response he denies that she is in heaven, and prays that her spirit may haunt him (a prayer which is of course partially and painfully answered), and he dashes himself against a tree. When Nellie opens a window so that he may visit Catherine's corpse before burial, Heathcliff substitutes his own hair for Edgar's in her burial locket. Inexplicably Edgar buries his wife neither with the Linton nor Earnshaw families, but on a slope in the corner of the churchyard, where significantly, in accord with her character, the "wall is so low that heath and bilberry plants have climbed over it from the moor."
17. Isabella escapes Wuthering Heights for a brief visit to Nellie before fleeing her husband. She recounts a violent scene in which Heathcliff had nearly killed Hindley, thrown her and Joseph to the floor, and hurled a knife at her. The scene had occurred when Hindley asked her to help him kill Heathcliff by remaining silent as he waited at the door to attack the latter; though she demurs and warns her husband, Hindley jumps outside, but is overpowered by Heathcliff, who beats him repeatedly even after he loses consciousness.
After abusing both Joseph and his wife, Heathcliff forces the latter to testify that he was assaulted (still a legal case against him could be made, for battering an unconscious man). Isabella later tells Hindley what transpired, while Heathcliff weeps obliviously at the fireside (!), presumably mourning Catherine's loss. Though relatively silent before, Isabella now taunts Heathcliff with Catherine's memory until he throws a knife at her. As she runs out the door, Hindley attacks Heathcliff to enable her to escape. Isabella bids Nellie farewell without visiting her estranged brother, and (in accord with her temperament), flees south to live near London.
Soon thereafter Linton Heathcliff is born, creating a legal heir for Thrushcross Grange and Edgar's wealth; as a metaphor of the irreconcilable conflicts of the boy's origins, he is an "ailing, peevish creature." Heathcliff threatens to retrieve him if Edgar claims Hareton; so Linton is permitted to remain with Isabella until her death twelve years later. Meanwhile young Catherine grows to puberty in the care of an affectionate father and attentive Nellie. Hindley dies prematurely at 27, and though Nellie and Joseph suspect Heathcliff has hastened his death, no witnesses were present at the event.
Heathcliff raises Hareton to the same menial and uneducated life Hindley had forced on him. Astoundingly, Edgar sends Nellie to the lawyer, who declares Hareton has been left penniless (but as we later learn, the lawyer is less than honest).
18. Shortly before Isabella's death, Catherine stops at Wuthering Heights in Nellie's absence. She meets the now fully-grown, handsome and sturdy Hareton, whom she dismisses as a servant. (In this book, first encounters are important, so it is important that she meets Hareton before Linton's arrival.) Nelly forces Catherine to promise she will make no more visits.
19. Isabella's death brings the frail and hypochrondiacal Linton to Thrushcross Grange. On the night of his arrival, Heathcliff threatens to retrieve him the following day.
20. Nellie gives Linton a dishonestly sanguine account of his father's character to persuade him to accompany her to Wuthering Heights before Catherine has risen; there he is immediately treated as one might expect. He begs not to be deserted, but Nellie leaves him to his fate.
21. When Catherine rises, she regrets Linton's absence. While walking she encounters Heathcliff, who persuades her to visit Linton. Despite the latter's whiny frailty, Catherine is pleased by his relative education and his jokes at Hareton's expense. On her return, Edgar forbids further visits, and Catherine begins a correspondence with Linton until Nellie intervenes and forces her to burn his letters.
22. Catherine, now lonely, again encounters Heathcliff, who tells her that Linton is pining from her absence. Despite her former opposition, Nellie agrees to accompany her on a visit.
23. When Catherine visits Linton, after she disagrees with his account of their respective parents, he falls first into a paroxysm of coughing and later into a nervous fit. Though he blames her for their quarrel, pity and duty prompt her return as soon as Edgar and Nellie (conveniently) both fall ill. Amazingly, as she lies sick, Nellie "never considered what [Catherine] did with herself after tea."
24. Catherine tells Nellie of her visits to Linton. After Catherine had mocked Hareton's efforts to learn to read, he attacked Linton, thus precipitating another fit. Catherine had been forced to leave, and when she returned was startled that Linton blames her for the attack. When from duty and pity she visits him again, he begs her to believe that he regrets his own distorted nature, and that he loves her for her kindness. Catherine does her best by him until Nellie reports the visits; inexplicably, however, she fails to give Edgar crucial information about his nephew's character and declining health.
25. Edgar senses his approaching death, and regrets that his daughter will be lonely. Though he knows his fortune will pass to Linton, he makes no attempt to introduce her to other partners or train her in self-sufficientcy, but he does save a bit of his annual income for her (which Linton later wills to Heathcliff). Edgar also invites Linton to Thrushcross Grange, and when the latter declines, begins a correspondence with him until Linton and Catherine persuade him to permit them to meet on neutral ground.
26. When the two meet outdoors, Linton is clearly ailing and uninterested in his cousin, but when she prepares to go, his terror is so great that she promises a return. Of course the reader knows that Heathcliff is forcing the relationship in order to revenge himself on Edgar by obtaining Catherine's remaining property.
27. Edgar's health worsens. On Catherine's next visit, Linton clings to her until she enters the house as Nellie watches. When Heathcliff locks Nellie and Catherine in, Catherine bravely seizes the key, but Heathcliff hits her on the head and overpowers Nellie. Amazingly the two women ignore the voices of Edgar's servants in the garden, and after Heathcliff persuades the latter to depart, Nellie is locked in a room for several days.
28. Meanwhile Catherine has been forced to marry Linton, who immediately turns against her, and will not permit her to escape to visit her dying father. When Linton tries to take from her her pictures of her parents, she gives him that of Catherine but retains that of Edgar. Heathcliff enters their room and seizes Edgar's picture, strikes Catherine, and crushes the picture on the floor. Nellie escapes home to Edgar to recount the usual censored version of what has happened, and although he resolves to alter his will to place Catherine' s money in trust, the dishonest lawyer delays until it is too late to do so. Catherine finally manages to persuade Linton to abet her departure, and escapes by her mother's old chamber, arriving just in time to bid her dying father farewell.
29. Heathcliff assumes ownership of Thrushcross Grange, and bears off Catherine's portrait. The young Catherine asserts of Linton, "I know he has a bad nature; he's your son. But I'm glad I have a better, to forgive it," and prepares to rejoin her dying husband. Heathcliff tells Nellie that during the preparations for burying Edgar he has opened Catherine's grave and viewed her yet intact face (!), then cut away the side of her coffin opposite Edgar's in preparation for his own burial in the adjacent space. He claims the past night has been his first peaceful one in 18 years, and recounts that on the night after Catherine's burial he had tried to open her grave, only to have a distinct sense of her existence, "not under me, but on the earth." In the intervening years her teasing presence has haunted him (thus presumably inspiring his mad rages and violent acts).
30. Catherine nurses Linton until his death, and Heathcliff informs her that Linton has willed her property to himself. Unheeded and lonely, Catherine at first rejects Hareton's naive offers of friendship. At this point, the retrospective portion of the novel is completed, and Lockwood decides to leave the region for six months. Before his departure, he visits Wuthering Heights to bid farewell.
31. Heathcliff seizes the note Lockwood bears Catherine from Nellie. Lockwood witnesses Catherine's mockery of Hareton's untutored efforts to read from her books, and is depressed by the generally bleak and cheerless atmosphere.
32. The following fall Lockwood revisits his former abode, and is surprised to find Mrs. Dean absent. He rides to Wuthering Heights, where he finds her living with Catherine and Hareton. Catherine is teaching Hareton to read, the young couple are clearly in love, and Nellie tells Lockwood of Heathcliff's recent (and opportune) death. She recounts the history of Catherine's gradual attempts to win her cousin's trust and renewed affection, and the ensuing courtship.
33. The account is as follows. In an image of their future domestic life, Catherine and Hareton begin to cultivate the garden with plants imported from the Grange; when Heathcliff becomes angry, Catherine defies him. He prepares to strike her, but is suddenly unable to complete the task. Moved in part by the resemblance of both young Catherine and Hareton to the dead Catherine, Heathcliff loses will to complete his final revenge. Heathcliff tells Nellie that he also senses an approaching change, and that Catherine Earnshaw's image surrounds him constantly. He believes his compulsion for reunion with her will consume him.
34. Heathcliff ceases to eat, spends several days and nights outdoors or in Catherine Earnshaw's chamber, and seems strangely exhilarated. He tells Nellie he repents of nothing, and wishes to be buried without a minister. He ascends to his chamber, where Nellie finds him dead the next morning, and when the doctor is called she does not mention that he has not eaten for four days. Hareton buries Heathcliff regretfully, but the neighbors report the sight of Catherine and Heathcliff's ghosts on rainy nights. Young Catherine and Hareton plan a New Year's wedding, after which they and Nellie will return to Thrushcross Grange.
Lockwood leaves, but as he passes the church he notices the three graves and wonders "how any one could ever imagine unquiet slumbers for the sleepers in that quiet earth."