Wuthering Heights (TV Mini-Series 2009) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • Foundling Heathcliff is raised by the wealthy Earnshaws in Yorkshire but in later life launches a vendetta against the family.

  • [PART I] Braving her father Edgar Linton's warning not to cross the estate border, young Catherine discovers her charming, but sickly cousin and the manly Hareton are the heartlessly scorned and abused sons of wealthy Heatcliff on the Earnshaw estate. This launches a flashback how Heathcliff was raised as Cathy's best friend by her kind father, Mr. Earnshaw. After his death, the son and heir returns from boarding school, married, and reduces Heathcliff to the rank of stable boy, enduring constant abuse in order to remain with Cathy. After an accidental meeting with elegant gentleman Edgar Linton, she falls in love. To Hindley's delight, this drives Heathcliff away. [PART II] Three years later, Heathcliff returns wealthy enough to buy the estate, a day after Cathy married Edgar. He takes revenge, which instead of satisfaction brings misery to all. After Cathy and later Edgar's death, his scorn includes the next generation, which nevertheless finds each-other striving for nobler values.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • The movie begins differently than the book. It begins with Heathcliff (Tom Hardy) having a nightmare which he seems to have had many times: something enters the house, and goes upstairs to the room where Heathcliff lies, and the voice of a woman - Cathy's (Charlotte Riley) - whispers urgently: let me in! At that moment he wakes startled.

    The scene changes and shows a great landhouse, where a boy is let out by his uncle, the landlord Edgar Linton (Andrew Lincoln). He seems weak, because he has two men supporting him, and a bit frightened. It appears to be the cousin Linton (Tom Payne) of the landlord and his daughter Catherine (Rebecca Night), who has to go back home, though he doesn't seem to know it at all, asking about it on the way. When they arrive at Wuthering Heights they have a brutal and rude welcome, and the greeting between Edgar en Heathcliff is evenly hostile. Even for Linton, Heathcliff has no pity, calling him 'it', saying that he looks worse than he expected, and that his mother was a wicked slut. When Linton is dragged inside, he screams at his uncle not to leave him there. Edgar threatens Heathcliff best to be kind to his son, and Heathcliff assures him not so very convincing that he will be very kind to the boy. Edgar's daughter, Catherine, is very angry at her father for sending Linton back, asking if he's far away and why he couldn't stay. She finally had a friend, and he has been taken from her, for which she can't forgive her father.

    Six months later, we see Edgar again in a graveyard, laying flowers on the grave of his wife, murmuring 'oh Cathy'. At the same time, at his house, his daughter Catherine receives a gift from her nanny for her birthday. It's a book, that once was her mothers. A bit disappointed Catherine asks if her father is at the church. She needs no answer, and asks her nanny - Nelly (Sarah Lancashire) - why his sadness over her mothers death always wear on his happiness that she was born. To cheer her up Nelly asks what she would want to do, and Catherine insist on going outside, to one of her favourite places. Nelly agrees reluctantly, and warns her that they will have to be back within the hour. Outside, they have had a long walk and Nelly calls to Catherine that they must go back, but Catherine keeps on going, insisting 'just a little further'. She's climbing on some rocks when she meets Heathcliff, who recognises her and seem to know a lot of her, though she doesn't know him. He invites her to Wuthering Heights to see 'his son who will explain everything'. Nelly is just in time to see them riding away, Catherine on the back of the horse Heathcliff is riding. At Wuthering Heights Catherine recognizes the son of Heathcliff as her cousin Linton, concluding that Heathcliff must be her uncle. Another young man lets Nelly in, who leaps up to Catherine saying that she shouldn't have come there. Catherine doesn't understand and is even more confused when Heathcliff tells here that Nelly had lived at Wuthering Heights, raising her mother and him. He suggests to Linton to show Catherine the stables, but he is too weak, and Hareton (Andrew Hawley) takes the job. Outside Catherine discovers that Hareton can't read, and mistakes him for a servant, at which Hareton walks away angrily. Linton, who has joined them, explains that he's not a servant but her cousin too. Inside Nelly asks Heathcliff if this is how he takes his revenge out on 'the next generation', at which Heathcliff seemingly innocent replies that he just wants for Catherine and Linton to get to know eachother. At home, Edgar warns Catherine to stay away from Wuthering Heights and the family, but she once again doesn't understand why, and walks away. Edgar begins to cough, seeming very ill, but when Nelly tells him that he has to rest, he replies that he cannot abandon Catherine to Heathcliff. But the next morning Catherine is already back at Wuthering Heights, and excited tries to figure out which chamber is Linton's. He calls to her not to do it, but she's already upstairs. When she enters a room, she finds out it was her mothers, with her and Heathcliff's name all over the walls and a portrait of her hanging on the wall. When Linton catches up with her, he explains that Heathcliff and Cathy had loved eachother, before Edgar did. Upset she calls him a liar and wants to leave the house, but all the doors are locked. Linton cries out that he is going to die, while he's just 18, and that's the reason why Heathcliff wants them to be married as soon as they can: he made Linton change his will, so that Heathcliff will have Wuthering Heigts and Edgar's estate when he dies. Catherine is in a fury and when Heathcliff enters the room she demands to be freed. But Heathcliff tells her coldly that by this time the next day he will be her father, so she better learns to obey him.That night, Heathcliff goes to the graveyard and unearths the grave of Cathy, lying by her corpse, muttering 'my love, come home!' In the same time, Nelly arrives at Wuthering Heights to tell Catherine that her father is dying. Catherine wants desperatly to go home, but Hareton closes the door demonstratively. When Heathcliff comes back the following morning, he sees Catherine at the window and is reminded at the times her mother stood there.

    We get a flash back of how Heathcliff is adopted by the father of Hindley and Cathy, but there is a lot of gossip about it. Hindley looks down on Heathcliff, seeing him as a threat, and mistreats him, though Cathy tries to defend him. When a fight goes out of hand, Hindley and Heathcliff are called in the office of their father, where Cathy confesses Heathcliff was offended by the other boys. Her father sends her and Heathcliff out, and tells Hinley that he will have to go to school. Hindley goes away, very angry at his father, and warns Cathy to stay away from Heathcliff. But she and Heathcliff become great, even inseperable friends and through the years eventually lovers. But still the people look down on Heathcliff and call him gipsy boy. When their father dies, Hindley returns as heir to the estate, and is determined to show Heathcliff his place, which is among the servants according to him. Although Heathcliff tries to fight back, sometimes even with a little help from Nelly, Hindley keeps on humiliating him. When Cathy by chance meets Edgar Linton, a gentleman with a good name, Hindley is enormous pleased, hoping they will fall in love with eachother. Heathcliff on the other hand is very jaleous, and refuses to see Cathy when she comes back to Wuthering Heights, looking as a young lady, saying he once knew someone who looked like her. To prove her love Cathy has to run away with him, as they had planned, but she refuses, saying she's scared. Heathcliff gets angry, saying that his love for her was the only thing that kept him there, and asking to at least release him if she is indifferent, which she is not. After her brother humiliates him even more in front of the visiting Edgar Linton, Cathy gives herself even more to Heathcliff to prove her love. But when Hinley's wife dies while giving birth to a son, Heathcliff is delighted, saying that Hinley has now lost the only one who loved him. Cathy is shocked by his words, saying that sometimes it seems as if hatred is his true passion, rather than love. From that moment on, Hinley starts to drink, and Cathy goes almost every evening to the Lintons. Heathcliff is furious, saying that he will let her suffer for finding him not worthy enough for her. When Edgar Linton comes to visit, he proposes to Cathy, and she is reluctant to refuse him on Heathcliff's behalf, which Heathcliff discovers. But when she talks to Nelly that evening, she realises she cannot be parted from Heathcliff, because he's like a part of her. But before she can tell him, Heathcliff sets off in anger, not to return for 3 years.

    On the day Cathy finally marries Edgar, she receives a note, which she knows is from Heathcliff, that says 'I know you have betrayed me'. The next scene, Heathcliff finds Hinley drunk in a bar, while he's been cheated upon by his fellow players. He declares himself the landlord of an estate that once was Hinley's, but has been sold due to his depts. Heathcliff pushes Hinley from the bank, taking his place among the players. Back at the Linton's house, Cathy and Edgar prepare themselves for their wedding night, but Cathy is reluctant, saying she feels feverish. As a real gentleman Edgar suggests he'll sleep on the cough, which she gladly accepts. Back at the bar, Heathcliff shares what he has won with his playmates and gives a vast amount of it to the boy who has deliverd his letter. He takes up Hinley and dragges him by the back of his shirt out of the bar. In Wuthering Heights he doesn't exactly receives a warm welcome, but isn't bothered by it either. The following day he visits Edgar and Cathy. She is really thrilled to see him, and insists that Edgar and Heathcliff must be friends. But the rude behavior of Heathcliff makes this impossible, although Edgar's sister, Isabella (Rosalind Halstead), enjoys his company. Three weaks pass, before Cathy comes to visit Heathcliff. At first they are thrilled to see eachother again, but when Heathcliff sees the guilt in her eyes he guesses that she has given herself to Edgar and is disgusted. Cathy runs away crying. At Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff steals away even more land from Hinley by tempting him into more gambling. One of the servants asks him if he hasn't humiliated Hinley enough, on which Heathcliff declares he's a good man, but he himself has forgotten how to be one after he met Hinley. At Edgar's estate, there's a quarrel between Cathy and her sister-in-law Isabella, the first hoping he won't come back, the second he will. But when Heathcliff eventually comes, it is Cathy who is thrilled as always that he's back. But Heathcliff only wants to see Isabella, declaring that if Cathy thinks he is to be consolted by sweet words she's an idiot. Cathy becomes angry and indeed bring him to Isabella, but is quite rude when she introduces one another. When Isabella runs away ashamed and hurt, Heathcliff tells her she had no right to tread Isabella like that, and leaves. Isabella and Heathcliff meet again, and Heathcliff tells her that there are only a few who saw good in him, and for that, he is willing to try and love Isabella. When they arrive at Edgar's estate, Cathy is furious and almost in tears, screaming that he should let Isabella alone, on which Isabella declares that 'she loves Heathcliff more than Cathy ever loved Edgar, en Heathcliff might love her if Cathy would let him'. Cathy tells her that he might just marry Isabella just to hurt her, but Isabella refuses to believe that and walks away. When Cathy and Heathcliff argue about the matter, Edgar comes in, and there's a fight between him and Heathcliff, that Cathy can barely stop. Edgar threatens to throw her out of the house if she insists on still being friends with Heathcliff, at which Cathy tells him she is with child. Isabelle goes that night to Heathcliff to tell him that Cathy is pregnant from Edgar, and they ran away together to get married.

    When Edgar hears the news, he declares that Isabella is no longer his sister. But when Cathy hears of it, she's heartbroken. She weakens every day because she refuses to eat or to drink, and in the end she's very fragile. Heathcliff comes to the conclusion that he cannot love Isabella, and they return to Wuthering Heights, to find Hinley ever so drunk and aiming with his weapon at Isabella, asking if Heathcliff has returned. He warns her that Heathcliff has to shut his door when he sleeps, because if Hinley will find it open once, Heathcliff wil be dead. Shocked, Isabella leaves the room, but when she arrives at Heathcliff's - who still wants to sleep in Cathy's old room - he tells her that she'll sleep in another room, away from him. The next day Heathcliff wants to see Cathy, but Nelly refuses, arguing she's too weak, even dying. Although Nelly lies about her meeting with Heathcliff, Cathy still seems to sense him close. She says she knows he's back. That night, when Nelly has fallen asleep, Cathy walks into the night, while it is raining hard, calling for Heathcliff. Heathcliff, who seems to sense her nearby, goes out and searches for her. When he finally finds her, she lies on the ground, with only her nightcloth on, soaked by the rain. He takes her out of the rain, under a rock, and they share a last, intimate moment with eachother. Then he hears the men from Edgar calling after Cathy, and shouts back that he has found her. After that night, Cathy is even weaker, having a pneumonia from her night in the rain, and it looks like she even doesn't want to recover. At Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff is threatened by Hinley with his gun. Again the humiliations and insults rain down upon Heathcliff, who only responds with the message that Cathy is dying. But Hinley spits out that Heathcliff's love and grieve for his sister can only be a pretense, on which Heathcliff grabs him and takes all his anger and grief out on him. Isabella and the housekeeper can hardly prevent him from strangling Hinley. Isabella then asks Heathcliff for permission to leave, because she now realises it's better to be hated then to be loved by Heathcliff, for his love is so murdurous. Heathcliff screams at her she has to be gone. At Edgar's estate, when Edgar is away to the church, Heathcliff can steal a moment with Cathy, and she begs him to stay with her. On his way, Edgar meets his sister Isabella, but refuses to take her back in, although she tells him she is pregnant. When he comes home, he finds Heathcliff with his wife in his hands. Heatfcliff leaves, but waits outside to have a chance to get back in. But Cathy is so sick Edgar doesn't leave for a moment, and calls the doctor.That night, Cathy dies, giving birth to her daughter Catherine. Lost in grieve, Heathcliff curses her to have no rest as long as he is living. He has one last moment with her, as she lays dead in her coffin before the funeral. That's when he takes her necklace in the shape of a heart.

    Back to the present, Heathcliff plays with the necklace, while Catherine and Linton come out of the church, apparantly married. He gives the necklace to Catherine, but she immediately runs off to see her dying father. At his dying bed she begs Edgar for forgiveness, but he doesn't blame her at all. He just wants to know if she'll be happy, and for her fathers sake she tells him that Heathcliff will let hem live there and fill the house with children and laughter. Now Edgar can die happily, and he leaves them, just on the moment Heathcliff comes to fetch 'his daughter'. At Wuthering Heights, Catherine has - after just seeing her father die - to take care of her dying husband. Hareton tries to help and distract her as much as he can, but Heathcliff doesn't approve. Cathy gets angry at Hareton for not standing up against Heathcliff, who walks away angrily, telling her that he has taken enough beatings of her part. Confused, Catherine asks Nelly why Hareton defends Heathcliff, at which she answers they are attached by ties stronger than reason can break. That night, Heathcliff dreams again of Cathy, and is awakened by Catherine, who tells him his son, Linton, has died. It is a sober funeral, but on the way back, Catherine asks Hareton right before Heatcliff's eyes to forgive him for the words she's said, and he does. The next day Hareton picks some flowers for Catherine, finding her upstairs, in Cathy's room. He warns her they will be punished if Heathcliff finds them there, but still sits with Catherine as she shows him the books of her mother, and how much she must have loved Heathcliff. At that moment, Heathcliff himself comes in, shouting at them because they are in that room. When he threatens and offends Catherine, she says Hareton will strike him back, and finally, Hareton indeed does stand up against Heathcliff. When the later sees the portret of Cathy, he seems to calm down, and asks them to leave the room. That evening, Hareton and Heathcliff talk, Hareton accusing Heathcliff from misleading him. Another day, Heathcliff finds Hareton and Catherine together, teasing and tempting eachother. When he sees that the book they are reading was Cathy's favourite, he leaves them alone. He goes out walking, like he did so many times before with Cathy, and when he returnes, it's like he sees her spirit, waiting for him. The next thing Catherine and Hareton hear, is a hard noise, and when they force open the door to Cathy's room, they find Heathcliff who has shot himself.

    The last scene we see, is from Catherine and Hareton, who have emptied the house of Wuthering Heights, and bringing the furniture to a new home, together, while in a window of Cathy's room, two figures seem to see them leaving.

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