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When it was first published in 1847, Wuthering Heights was considered highly controversial for its blunt portrayal of domestic abuse, alcoholism, and the dismissal of Christian values by some of its characters. Today, this gothic novel is considered one of the greatest in English literature.
Generational conflict persists between two families living on properties in a remote area of Yorkshire—the Earnshaws and the Lintons. When the sinister and powerful Heathcliff, a foundling adopted by the Earnshaws, develops a passionate attachment to his step-sister Catherine, she chooses instead, for practical reasons, to marry the mild-mannered Edgar Linton, despite her affections for Heathcliff. When Catherine dies after giving birth to a daughter, the naturally surly Heathcliff becomes deeply embittered. He plans his vengeance on members of both families who he believes have wronged him.
The action is told by Nelly Dean, who has spent a life in service to members of both families. The subsidiary speaker is Lockwood, a young man who becomes a tenant on Heathcliff's property.