I decided to write from Heathcliff’s point of view, and, taking creative license, fashion the “degrade me to marry him” scene as though Heathcliff did hear the “I love him” part. (Some of us have had this discussion and I think it’s plausible.)
Degrade her to marry me!? How could she say that, my Cathy, about me, her most beloved? I shall ‘never know how she loves me,’ well, too late for that. But obviously it doesn’t matter. Even to simply tell me she loves me would be degrading to her it seems. Damn it! Doesn’t she know how I love her? She is every part of me, my very breath. She is my better half, and I am the worse off for it. Away with me degrading her; her marriage to that whelp Edgar Linton is degrading to me, does she not think of that? That damned Hindley! This is his fault! She said so herself, had not that wicked man, and wicked is too kind a term for him, brought me so low– tore my very existence asunder with indignity more like– she would marry me. She never would have considered that Edgar a suitable husband. This is Hindley’s fault! And he shall pay dearly for it, mark me. His property, his household, that helpless whelp of a child, his very breath, will be mine. I shall own him. I was always Earnshaw’s favorite; Hindley himself knew that. I was the favorite; Wuthering Heights is my right; Cathy is my right. And I will have it, the Heights.
But I have lost Cathy to a simpleton, an intruder, a trespasser. How could she choose that insipid, posh-pampered creature over me? It is sickening how he dotes on her with no spine to him. The fair-faced wimp! What has he that I do not?? Money, pleasure, standing, dignity. I shall have all those, I shall. They’ll see. They will all see. They will regret the wrong they’ve done to me. And I shall prove to Cathy that Edgar is the degrading one. She loves me, and she won’t be his forever, not if I have any say, and of course I will, when I return. And, in fact, while I’m at it, I shall have Thrushcross Grange too, just for all the trouble I’ll have to go through. It’s only fair, wouldn’t you agree? The Heights is mine because I was Earnshaw’s favorite, and that incompetent drunk deserves none of it. Thrushcross Grange is mine as compensation. Edgar has stolen Cathy from me, so I shall steal away his wealth, his damn inheritance; I shall find a way to get my hands on it. I promise you that, Cathy.