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 and her kind father, Mr Earnshaw. Ather his death, the son and heir returns for 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 Heathclidde away.
Three years later, he returns wealthy enough to buy the estate, a day after Kathy married Edgar. He takes revenge, which instead of satisfaction brings misery to all. After Kathy and later Edga's death, his scorn includes the next generation, which nevertheless finds each-other striving for nobler values.