Chapters 11 and 12
After her long absence from Wuthering Heights, Nelly
decides to return in order to speak with Hindley.
However, instead she meets Hareton who does not remember her and greets her with a hail of stones and curses. No doubt these actions have been copied from Heathcliff. Nelly runs away.
The next day, Heathcliff comes to the Grange and embraces Isabella, much to
the annoyance of Cathy. Heathcliff tells her ‘I’m not your husband, you needn’t be jealous of me.’
Edgar challenges Cathy and Heathcliff regarding their relationship.
Heathcliff takes the position that Cathy has wronged him and that he will be revenged.
Cathy taunts Edgar encouraging him to fight with Heathcliff. Edgar strikes Heathcliff and then goes to get assistance in order to have him removed from the house. Heathcliff, realizing that he will be outnumbered, leaves. Cathy is asked to choose between Heathcliff and Edgar, but Cathy will not answer her husband. Instead, she locks herself in her room refusing to eat. Edgar then decides to persuade his sister Isabella to pursue Heathcliff, as their relationship would end the link between Cathy and Heathcliff.
After a few days without food, Cathy calls for Edgar begging
forgiveness. She is delirious and talks about her childhood with Heathcliff and she has a foreboding of her death.
Nelly insists on keeping the windows in her bedroom closed, but Cathy staggers to them and throws them open claiming she can see Wuthering Heights. She goes on to speak about her death, but that she will wander the world until she is with Heathcliff. Edgar is appalled to find Cathy in such a weakened state and scolds Nelly for not telling him sooner.
That night Isabella runs away with Heathcliff and Edgar disowns his sister
for this scandal.
The doctor arrives and predicts that Cathy will not survive the illness.
Heathcliff is already setting the wheels in motion
regarding his revenge against those who have wronged him at Wuthering Heights, principally Hindley.
In his childhood, Heathcliff had taken Hindley’s father away from him, and now he is doing the same with his son. He has assumed a parental role regarding matters relating to Hareton. He delights in teaching him bad habits. Just as Hindley ended Heathcliff’s formal education, so Heathcliff has done the same with Hareton.
Heathcliff now turns his attention to Thrushcross Grange and encourages
Isabella’s infatuation. He has no feelings for her because she is only a pale shadow of what Cathy is.
He only wants to use her. Heathcliff still harbors a great hurt from the time when he was removed from the Grange as a child and he is determined to acquire it.
It is clear that marriage to Edgar is having adverse effects on Cathy’s
mental and physical state.
The rebel inside Cathy wants to see the two men in her life fight over her. Both these men cannot understand Cathy. Edgar cannot fathom Cathy’s attraction to Heathcliff who he considers to be rough and coarse and Heathcliff cannot come to terms with Cathy’s marriage to a sniveling, weak Edgar. Edgar shows how much he loves Cathy by acting out of character by striking Heathcliff, and although this was done in the security of his own home, it still required significant courage.
Nelly shows little sympathy towards Cathy, taking the attitude that she has
brought the situation upon herself. Clearly she has not provided any support for Cathy.
Despite her brash exterior, Cathy shows that she is indeed vulnerable and has an unnatural fear of being alone. She has always had somebody to care for her every need, whether it was her father, Nelly, Heathcliff or Edgar. She is drawn back to her childhood and the happy days she spent on the moors as a child. This is symbolized by her opening of the windows. She is clearly unsettled and fears she will not find peace until she is together again with Heathcliff. By her pining for Heathcliff, she shows Edgar that she does not want him. She seems prepared to take on the role of martyr for the love she feels for Heathcliff.
The character of Heathcliff becomes clearer over these chapters.
He is now larger than life, almost a supernatural figure, charismatic and powerful, full if villainy. He curses the Linton family for making him unworthy in the eyes of Cathy, who he considers has betrayed him.
The rest of the novel deals with the elaborate plan Heathcliff has to wreak
revenge against those who have wronged him.