Wuthering Heights is set in Yorkshire, a region in the north of England. The “present day” action of the novel takes place from 1801-1802 with the retrospective plot events occurring over the previous thirty years. All of the action happens in a small, isolated, and wild area dominated by two grand estates owned by neighboring families. This choice of setting allows for an intense and focused plot that is concentrated on a small cast of characters. Because of the geographical isolation, many conventional social rules don’t seem to apply at the Heights, which is part of why Lockwood is often shocked by what he learns about the local residents.
The setting is also dominated by stormy, unpleasant weather. Lockwood explains that the word “Wuthering” refers to “the atmospheric tumult to which its station is exposed in stormy weather.” However, the Yorkshire moors can be a beautiful place as well as a violent one. As Lockwood reflects when he returns to Yorkshire at a more pleasant time of year, “In winter, nothing is more dreary, in summer nothing more divine.” Thus, the setting also serves as a parallel to the love of Cathy and Heathcliff, stormy and devastating yet divinely powerful.