Chapters 1 and 2
A Mr. Lockwood has traveled from London to take up the tenancy of
Thrushcross Grange. He visits his landlord, a Mr. Heathcliff who resides at Wuthering Heights, the title of the novel.
Above the door of Wuthering Heights are the date 1500 and the name Hareton
Lockwood does not receive a warm welcome and the house servant, Joseph, is
brusque. There is a pack of dogs running around the farm buildings.
Heathcliff seems not to trust Lockwood and leaves him alone with the
fearsome dogs. Despite this inhospitable treatment Lockwood decides to return to Wuthering Heights, and on this occasion, he knocks at the door, but there is no response.
A storm starts to develop and eventually a young man appears and requests
Lockwood to follow him.
Inside he sees a woman who he assumes to be Heathcliff’s wife. He is advised that Heathcliff is out on the moors, which seems strange to Lockwood as a full-blown snowstorm is developing. Lockwood asks for help in finding his way back to the Grange, but this is not forthcoming. Taking a lantern, Joseph, the servant, thinks he is stealing the lamp and orders the dogs to attack him. He receives a bad nosebleed and is forced to spend the night at Wuthering Heights.
This book is set in the desolate Yorkshire Moor country
where the Bronte family was brought up. The name ‘Wuthering’, is a north of England term used to describe the bleak and wild, windswept countryside, and in particular, the wild storms that are prevalent in
The whole story is set against this backdrop and the harsh forces of nature
that prevail in this part of England influence the main characters.
Heathcliff is a brooding man with a vengeful soul.
The narrator of the story, Lockwood, tries to make sense of his surroundings
Lockwood suggests that although Heathcliff did not shake his hand, he is a gentleman nonetheless and although it is clear that Heathcliff has no desire to see Lockwood again at the end of Chapter 1, he still plans to visit Wuthering Heights once more. One must, therefore, assume that Lockwood is not the most reliable of narrators.
We are also introduced to two servants in Chapter 1, firstly, Joseph who is
a cantankerous old man who appears to be fastidious to extremes, and secondly, Zillah who is Heathcliff’s housekeeper. It is she who saves Lockwood from the pack of dogs. She will also be the source of
much information as to the happenings at Wuthering Heights for Nelly, who is the primary narrator of this tale (Catherine’s servant).
The date above the door ’ is possibly the date when the house was
It is clear from the initial chapters that Bronte goes to great lengths to
provide the reader with a detailed picture of life on the moors at this time, which is 1801, when Lockwood took up the tenancy of the Grange. This detail provides the reader with a sense of realism and
authenticity regarding the set and the story. The significance of the name ‘Hareton Earnshaw’ is, however, not made clear, but Bronte is making the point that Wuthering Heights has been in the possession of
the Earnshaw family since it was built.
In Chapter 2 we obtain some information about those who currently reside in
Apart from the servants Joseph and Zillah, there is Heathcliff’s widowed daughter-in-law, though her first name is not mentioned yet. She is referred to as ‘the missis’. Joseph also mentions ‘the mother’ stating that she died and went straight to the devil. Again this serves to add mystery regarding the occupants of Wuthering Heights. There was no sense of family existing within this house. It is clear that these characters do not get on well together, let alone like one another, but they are inexorably bound together.
You have to question Lockwood’s judgment in returning to Wuthering Heights
for a second time when he clearly is unwelcome, especially when the weather is turning for the worse.
In the end it is Hareton (no connection to the inscription) who brings him inside. He incorrectly assumes that the woman is Heathcliff’s wife and then mistakes Hareton for Heathcliff’s son. Lockwood’s inability to analyze situations correctly makes his narration suspect.
We learn in Chapter 2 that Mrs. Heathcliff, despite the surroundings, is a
beautiful woman and that Hareton is proud of his heritage.
Heathcliff broods over the loss of his wife and son.
The reader, however, is unable to sympathize with these characters because of the way Bronte has presented them.