After Mr. Lockwood returns to Thrushcross Grange, having visited a friend now far away, on impulse he decides to venture forth to Wuthering Heights, where he encounters an usual site: the gate Hareton and Catherine are reading together and exchanging kisses. When Mrs. Dean sees Lockwood, she informs him that she has returned after Heathcliff's death three months earlier; the events leading to this death, she then relates to Mr. Lockwood.
Having called Mrs. Dean back to Wuthering Heights in order to live in a separate apartment with Catherine because Heathcliff does not wish to see her, Mrs. Dean notices after a time that Catherine has decided to not fight with Hareton and seeks his friendship, attempting to entice him to read. She finally tells him tearfully,
"It is not I who hate you, it is you who hate me!...You hat me as much as Mr. Heathcliff does, and more."
When she ignores his anger and kisses him, Hareton begins to be won over. Noting the changes in the two, Heathcliff merely gives them surly looks. However, an argument begins after Joseph discovers that Catherine has dug up his trees. She claims that she should not be begrudged a small plot of land when all has been taken from her. Hareton is torn between his affection for Cathy and his loyalty to his father-figure Heathcliff. Realizing Hareton's love for Heathcliff, she desists, resuming her affectionate relationship with him.
Observing their fondness together, Heathcliff is disarmed by their close resemblance to his beloved Catherine. Mrs. Dean tells Lockwood,
I suppose this resemblance disarmed Mr. Heathcliff: he walked to the hearth in evident agitation; but it quickly subsided as he looked at the young man: or, I should say, altered its character; for it was there yet.
Heathcliff later tells Nelly that, having trained himself to destroy the two houses, he finds that he does not possess the will "to lift a slate off either roof":
"...It is far from being the case: I have lost the faculty of enjoying their destruction, and I am too idle to destroy for nothing.
“Nelly, there is a strange change approaching; I'm in its shadow at present. I take so little interest in my daily life that I hardly remember to eat and drink. Those two who have left the room are the only objects which retain a distinct material appearance to me; and that appearance causes me pain, amounting to agony. About her I won't speak; and I don't desire to think; but I earnestly wish she were invisible: her presence invokes only maddening sensations.
Now, Heathcliff states, he has lost any interest in his daily life; for, he has "changed." He tells Nelly he has had but one wish in life and he feels that the fulfillment of this wish is soon upon him: "I am swallowed in anticipation of its fulfillment." The attainment of his revenge has lost its meaning now as the affection between Hareton and Catherine has defeated him, leaving his revenge with no meaning, and he is left exhausted, wishing only that his struggles were over. The wish that Heathcliff has now is to join Catherine Earnshaw Linton in death.