Nell visits the Heights at Isabella’s request. The latter is hoping for a letter from Edgar, but Edgar has disowned her.
Heathcliff regales Nell with an account of how the marriage is going: he delights in degrading Isabella and marveling at how she “crawls back.” Perhaps one line the best sums it up: “I have no pity! The worms writhe, the more I want to crush out their entrails! It is a moral teething, and I grind with greater energy, in proportion to the increase of pain” (128).
Isabella counters that she had tried to leave at his invitation, and dares not try again for the insinuated abuse that resulted from the attempt. Heathcliff refers to her as property and her guardian, and refers to her as “child.”
Heathcliff threatens Nell with confinement unless she agrees to facilitate a visit to Cathy. He threatens otherwise to overpower Linton and hold off servants with pistols if need be.
Nell weighs the consequences, and acquiesces.