Chapters 10–12 Summary and Analysis
Mr. Lockwood reveals that he has been sick for a month since his excursion to Wuthering Heights. Heathcliff comes to visit, and Lockwood is so glad to have company that he decides not to bring up the fact that his illness was partly Heathcliff’s doing. Afterward, Lockwood feels up to hearing the rest of Heathcliff’s story and summons Nelly Dean. He asks her how Heathcliff became a gentleman, but Nelly replies that she does not know, as Heathcliff acquired his fortune and education during the three years he was away. Nelly picks the story back up, revealing that Catherine and Edgar get along well as a married couple. Edgar and Isabella are very accommodating of Catherine, which makes her pleasant in turn. One day, Heathcliff suddenly shows up at Thrushcross Grange and requests to see Catherine. Though Catherine is overjoyed to see him after three years, she scolds him for leaving her. In contrast, Edgar is not at all pleased to see Heathcliff, but Catherine insists that he be cordial. After Heathcliff leaves, Catherine and Edgar have an argument about her friendship with Heathcliff. Nelly advises her not to try to force a friendship between the two men, and Catherine replies that Edgar and Isabella are spoiled. Nelly tells Catherine that it is she who is coddled by Edgar and Isabella and warns her that there are some things they may not be willing to accommodate (implying Heathcliff).
After hearing that Heathcliff is staying at Wuthering Heights, Nelly believes that he is trying to do the Christian thing by forgiving Hindley. However, Catherine informs her that the nearly destitute Hindley has invited Heathcliff to stay in the hopes that he can win some of Heathcliff’s fortune by gambling with him. Heathcliff claims that he wants to lodge at Wuthering Heights to be close to Thrushcross Grange, where he soon becomes a frequent visitor. Edgar’s younger sister, Isabella, begins to develop feelings for Heathcliff. Jealous of Heathcliff and Catherine’s close relationship, Isabella accuses Catherine of getting in the way. Catherine retaliates by telling Heathcliff about Isabella’s feelings to embarrass her. Heathcliff does not appear interested in anyone but Catherine, though he muses aloud that Isabella is Edgar’s heir. Suspicious of his motives, Nelly vows to keep an eye on him.
Nelly ventures to Wuthering Heights to have a talk with Hindley and runs into little Hareton. Though he has been out of her care for less than a year, he does not recognize her and shocks her by cursing. Nelly learns that it is Heathcliff who has put a stop to Hareton’s education and taught him to swear. When Heathcliff, rather than Hindley, appears in the doorway, Nelly runs away. The next day, Heathcliff comes to visit, and Nelly, suspicious, hides to watch him. Thinking no one is around, Heathcliff embraces Isabella, though Catherine walks in and catches them. Catherine tells Heathcliff that she would persuade Edgar to let him marry Isabella if she thought he really loved her. Heathcliff angrily rejects her “charity,” declaring that Catherine has treated him “infernally” by choosing Edgar over him. He announces that his revenge will be to marry Edgar’s sister. Nelly fetches Edgar, telling him about Catherine and Heathcliff’s fight. Enraged, Edgar orders Heathcliff to leave, intending to have the servants force him out of the house. Catherine, however, locks the door and throws the key in the fire, saying that Edgar should be brave enough to confront Heathcliff one-on-one. Intimidated, Edgar covers his face while Catherine and Heathcliff mock him for his cowardice. Unexpectedly, Edgar punches Heathcliff in the throat and leaves to get reinforcements while Heathcliff is incapacitated. While Edgar is gone, Catherine urges Heathcliff to leave and he escapes.
(The entire section is 1796 words.)