by Emily Brontë
Wuthering Heights Chapter 1 Summary
READ THE BOOK: Chapter 1
- Wuthering Heights begins with Lockwood reflecting upon a recent first visit to his landlord, Mr. Heathcliff, "a capital fellow" (1.1) with whom Lockwood anticipates he has a lot in common. He's hoping they will hang out a lot because there's not much to do out on the moors, where the story is set.
- First, it's important to notice that what Lockwood tells us as readers and what he shows us of his experiences can be a little inconsistent. This book is full of flashbacks, and this one is our first. Here's what he recounts about this important encounter: Heathcliff is teeth-clenchingly tense and doesn't seem very excited about renting his house, Thrushcross Grange, to Lockwood. (Heathcliff doesn't seem like such a "capital fellow," does he?)
- They enter the house and Lockwood realizes that there is only one "domestic" (servant), which might explain why the house is in such disrepair. Joseph is the do-it-all house man, and he is just as surly as Heathcliff. He's old, crusty, and a religious zealot, constantly grumbling and cursing.
- Lockwood provides a brief description of Heathcliff's house, Wuthering Heights. The word "wuthering," he tells us, comes from the stormy conditions that characterize the region. Thankfully, the house looks strong. It also has all sorts of elaborate designs around the front door—gothic-looking details, the date 1500, and the name "Hareton Earnshaw." We know that the date is now 1801, so the house is 300 years old.
- The inside of the house is not much more inviting than the outside. It's far from warm and cozy. No one is cooking. Instead, there are, among other random items, some "sundry villainous old guns, and a couple of horse pistols" (1.14).
- Instead of meeting the typical farmer who would usually live in this type of house, we find Heathcliff, who immediately becomes a subject of great fascination to Lockwood. He doesn't look like the kind of person you'd find in a place like this: he is more "dark-skinned gypsy" (1.21), as Lockwood calls him, than country squire. But Lockwood is pretty sure he has him figured out, and he goes to great lengths to express how Heathcliff is his kind of people.
- Lockwood then briefly flashes back to the previous summer, when he fell for some "goddess," but didn't let her know how he felt. He pretty much blew her off when he found out she was interested in him, but he wants to make sure we still think he's a nice guy.
- Back to the kitchen with Lockwood, Heathcliff, and company. At this point we meet a heap of unfriendly dogs. Heathcliff tells Lockwood to lay off them, but Lockwood makes faces at them, and they attack. A "lusty dame" (1.26) enters the kitchen and breaks up the assault with a frying pan and a few choice words.
- Lockwood can tell Heathcliff doesn't want him around, but that's not going to stop him.
READ THE BOOK: Chapter 1