Frances gives birth to Hareton, the last of the Earnshaw line. Sick from consumption, Frances dies in childbirth. Nelly must now raise the baby as Hindley turns into a cursing, raving mess. "The servants could not bear his tyrannical and evil conduct long" (8.18), Nelly reports, so only she and Joseph remain with the family.
Hindley's treatment of Heathcliff gets worse. "I could not half tell what an infernal house we had" (8.21), Nelly tells Lockwood.
Catherine is out of control, but remains steadfastly loyal to Heathcliff, while Edgar Linton vies for her affection. She develops a "double character" (8.26) – at home she's rude and rough, but in the company of the Linton's she's genteel and polite.
Nelly Dean recounts one day when Edgar Linton dared visit Catherine in the troubled house. Hindley orders Nelly to chaperone the two lovebirds, which angers Catherine, who pinches and slaps the housekeeper. When Edgar tries to reason with her, Catherine hits him as well.
Instead of leaving, Edgar likes Catherine even more – he's hooked. As Nelly puts it: "[H]e possessed the power to depart, as much as a cat possesses the power to leave a mouse half killed, or a bird half eaten" (8.87).