‘I want you to be aware that I know you have treated me infernally—infernally! . . . and if you think I can be consoled by sweet words, you are an idiot: and if you fancy I’ll suffer unrevenged, I’ll convince you of the contrary, in a very little while! Meantime, thank you for telling me your sister-in-law’s secret: I swear I’ll make the most of it.’
Here, Heathcliff speaks to Catherine of his plans for revenge and how he has not forgotten how everyone has mistreated him, especially Catherine. He hints that he will use Isabella Linton to accomplish his vengeful strategies. Heathcliff’s desire for retribution has been stewing since childhood, but Catherine’s decision to marry Edgar Earnshaw triggered his resolve. Heathcliff’s revenge will become a driving, inescapable force in the novel.
‘Whatever he may pretend, he wishes to provoke Edgar to desperation: he says he has married me on purpose to obtain power over him . . . I pray he forget his diabolical prudence and kill me!’ . . . He seized and thrust her from the room; and returned muttering—‘I have no pity! I have no pity! The more the worms writhe, the more I yearn to crush out their entrails!’
Nelly describes what she sees and hears during her visit to see Isabella and Heathcliff at Wuthering Heights after their marriage. First, Isabella tells her of Heathcliff’s plans to take revenge on Edgar. Then, Nelly recounts Heathcliff’s affirmation of Isabella’s account, declaring his ruthless resolve. Nelly makes it clear that Heathcliff will not stop for anyone or anything. Driven by a deep need for vengeance, he will not be satisfied until he accomplishes all of his plans.
‘I get levers and mattocks to demolish the two houses, and train myself to be capable of working like Hercules, and when everything is ready and in my power, I find the will to lift a slate off either roof has vanished! My old enemies have not beaten me; now would be the precise time to revenge myself…But where is the use? I don’t care for striking…I have lost the faculty of enjoying their destruction, and I am too idle to destroy for nothing.’
Heathcliff tells Nelly about his current feelings towards his plans of revenge. Here, he explains how even though he has his enemies exactly where he wants them, he has lost the drive to finish his revenge. Heathcliff describes how he has the power to completely demolish those that he believes wronged him, but he no longer finds enjoyment in the revenge. Heathcliff now realizes that settling old scores does not give him happiness and will not bring Catherine back.