Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Although a plain girl, Catherine Morland believes she is destined to become a heroine like those in her favorite gothic novels. She might, however, have spent her entire life in Fullerton, the small village in which she was born, had not Mrs. Allen, the wife of a wealthy neighbor, invited her to go to Bath. There a whole new world was opened to Catherine, who was delighted with the social life of the colony. At Bath, she meets Isabella Thorpe, who is more worldly than Catherine and takes it upon herself to instruct Catherine in the ways of society. Isabella also introduces Catherine to her brother, John Thorpe. He and Catherine’s brother, James Morland, are friends, and the four young people spend many enjoyable hours together.
Catherine meets Henry Tilney, a young clergyman, and his sister Eleanor, with whom she is anxious to become better acquainted. John thwarts her in this desire, and Isabella and James aide him in deceptions aimed at keeping her away from Henry and Eleanor. After Isabella and James are engaged, Isabella doubles her efforts to interest Catherine in her beloved brother. Although Catherine loves her friend dearly, she cannot extend this love to John, whom she knows in her heart to be an indolent, undesirable young man.
While James is at home arranging for an allowance so that he and Isabella can be married, Henry Tilney’s brother, Captain Tilney, appears on the scene. He is as worldly as Isabella and, even more important...
(The entire section is 979 words.)
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Chapter 1 Summary
Northanger Abbey was the first novel Jane Austen wrote (around 1798), but it was not published until after her death in 1818. The story follows teenager Catherine Morland as she makes her way through the British society of her time. In this story, Catherine loves Gothic novels. Some critics have suggested that Northanger Abbey may have been written as a parody of that genre.
Catherine Morland is the daughter of a clergyman. Richard Morland and his wife have ten children; Catherine is the fourth oldest. At the age of ten, Catherine is described as a skinny girl with dark, lank hair and colorless skin. She is plain looking and does not care about her appearance. Cleanliness and education are of little interest to her. She would rather be playing cricket with the boys or rolling down a grassy field than practicing music, drawing, or learning French, the entertainments of most girls her age.
Catherine is very attentive and patient with her siblings and gently cares for the six sisters and brothers born after her. She loves small animals like mice and birds, is not quarrelsome with her parents or older brothers, and abhors being confined indoors.
As Catherine matures from ten to fifteen, her parents notice physical changes in their daughter. Her features are softened by the extra weight she puts on, and her attention is diverted from dirt to the refinement of nice clothes. Her parents are often overheard saying that Catherine has become “almost pretty.”
Although Catherine prefers riding horses to reading books, she does enjoy novels. It is through books of fiction that Catherine forms her opinions of who might be considered a hero and what that entails. Her definitions of heroism have nothing to do with the life around her, though. There are no young men upon whom she can invest the information she has gleaned from the fictional tales in which she indulges. None of her family’s friends have sons her age. There are no young men in her town or in neighboring villages. There are no young lords to stir her passions.
When she turns seventeen, a friend of her father’s, Mr. Allen, who is described as a warm-hearted man, must travel to Bath to treat an ailment. Mrs. Allen surmises that if a young girl cannot find adventures at home she must go elsewhere to find them, so she Allen asks the Morlands if...
(The entire section is 414 words.)
Chapter 2 Summary
Catherine prepares for her departure with the Allens to Bath. Catherine’s mother does not make a fuss over her leaving; she merely warns Catherine to keep warm so that she does not catch a cold. Mrs. Allen’s concern is not due to a lack of love for her young daughter on her first venture into society but rather a lack of experience. Mrs. Allen knows very little about the potential mischief of some young men toward young, innocent girls, so she does not know to warn her daughter. Catherine’s closest sibling is her younger sister, Sally (who sometimes prefers the name Sarah). She does not, as some other sisters might have, insist that Catherine write to her every day that she is gone. No, the Morlands approach Catherine’s departure with a very modest spirit. The attitude seems to be that Catherine will not be gone long, and one day she will return.
The trip, much like the reactions of the Morlands, is quiet. Catherine and her companions, the Allens, encounter no storms along the road. Neither are they bothered by any thieves. Catherine looks about the countryside, but she does not set her eyes upon any young man who might incite her imagination into proclaiming him to be a possible hero.
Once settled in Bath, Mrs. Allen examines Catherine’s wardrobe and finds it lacking. The first outing of Mrs. Allen and Catherine is to procure new dresses. Soon afterward, Mrs. Allen is ready to chaperone Catherine to her first ball. Catherine’s hair is cut, and she dons one of her new outfits. The Allens announce, upon seeing her so dressed, that Catherine is sufficiently prepared for admiration from any young man who should see her.
They are late in arriving to the ball because Mrs. Allen takes very long to dress. By the time they reach the ballroom, it is so crowded the women have difficulty passing through. Catherine was hoping to find a place to sit and watch the dancing, but all they manage is to stand behind a wall of people far from the dance floor. They finally find a spot on a balcony, from which Catherine can look down at the people dancing. The commotion excites Catherine, and she wishes she could join them. But no young or old man approaches to ask her to dance. This disappoints Mrs. Allen. She continues to state that she wishes Catherine could dance. This does not make matters much better; it only emphasizes Catherine’s disappointment.
During a break from the dancing, Catherine tells her...
(The entire section is 534 words.)
Chapter 3 Summary
In the next few days, Catherine and Mrs. Allen spend much of their time shopping and roaming the streets of Bath, exploring places they have never seen before. One day they go to the Lower Rooms, a place of gathering, and Catherine meets a young man. James King, the master of ceremonies, introduces Catherine to Henry Tilney, a twenty-four-year-old clergyman.
Tilney begins a conversation with Catherine; he asks when she arrived at Bath and what she has done since she has been there. Catherine finds the young man refreshing and well mannered. He teases her about writing in her journal when she gets home that night. He even suggests how she might describe having met him. He says she will probably state that she was harassed by a strange young man who made her dance with him and made her feel uncomfortable. After laughing over this, Tilney suggests another possible journal entry, one that is more flattering. He tells her to describe him as a very agreeable young man who seems like an extraordinary genius. She is to write that she has met a young man so interesting that she hope to see him again.
Mrs. Allen joins their conversation but talks of nothing but dresses. Mr. Tilney, it turns out, knows a lot about fashion and fabric. He claims to buy material out of which his sisters make dresses. He knows what types of material are better than others. Mrs. Allen asks Mr. Tilney to give his opinion of her dress and Catherine’s. He likes the one Mrs. Allen is wearing but suggests that Catherine must have spent too little money on hers, and he is concerned the dress will soon fray. Catherine is slightly embarrassed by this conversation, thinking that Mrs. Allen has spent too much time absorbed in a frivolous subject. But the couple soon leaves Mrs. Allen’s company as the dancing has begun.
As they walk toward the dance floor, Mr. Tilney notices the strange expression on Catherine’s face and asks what she is thinking about. She had been considering his personality, thinking him somewhat foolish. She does not want to expose her thoughts to him, so she tells him she was not thinking about anything at all. Mr. Tilney suggests that they are destined to become acquainted with one another, so she should be honest with him—she should merely tell him that she would rather not share her thoughts with him. This is exactly what she tells him.
(The entire section is 417 words.)
Chapter 4 Summary
The next day, Catherine is anxious to return to the Lower Rooms with Mrs. Allen in anticipation of meeting again with Henry Tilney, and she rushes Mrs. Allen out of the house. The meeting room is crowded but there is no sign of Mr. Tilney. Again Mrs. Allen bemoans the fact that she and Mr. Allen have no acquaintances in Bath. She believes this puts her and Catherine at a great disadvantage. Catherine has grown tired of hearing the same complaint but feels a sense of ease when a woman turns toward Mrs. Allen. This woman says she knows Mrs. Allen and calls her by name. She has to remind Mrs. Allen of tidbits of the past history shared between them before Mrs. Allen remembers her. The woman is Mrs. Thorpe, a widow and mother of six children, about whom she proudly boasts.
Mrs. Thorpe’s son John is at school at Oxford. Edward is at a school called Merchant Taylors’, and William is at sea. Mrs. Thorpe begins to talk about her three daughters as she sees them walking toward. She is particularly focused on the eldest, Isabella, whom she believes is more beautiful than her other two daughters.
When Isabella arrives at her side and is introduced to Catherine, Isabella mentions Catherine’s brother James and states that Catherine favors him in her good looks. She tells Catherine that James Morland made friends with her brother John. Catherine is surprised of the connection until she remembers that her brother James had mentioned making friends with someone with the last name of Thorpe. She recalls that James had spent the past Christmas at the Thorpe house. This relationship between the families make Isabella and her sisters feel as if they already know Catherine, and they immediately take her into their confidence. Catherine so enjoys their conversation that she forgets all about her disappointment at not seeing Mr. Tilney that day.
Isabella especially takes to Catherine. As they walk around the room, she relates all the information she has learned about the young people in her society. She is four years older than Catherine is, and she is much more experienced. Isabella points out the various expressions of young couples as they pass. She interprets the flirtations they witness. She talks of fashions in London compared to the way people dress in other towns she has visited.
There is so much to talk about that Isabella insists on walking home with Catherine so she will have more time to talk to her. This...
(The entire section is 468 words.)
Chapter 5 Summary
Catherine and Isabella become inseparable, but this does not keep Catherine from wondering about Mr. Tilney, who seems to have disappeared from Bath. Every time Catherine goes for a walk, she looks for him. She talks to Isabella about him, and Isabella suggests that Mr. Tilney is probably a good man. Isabella adds that maybe Catherine should have been a bit more forthcoming about her interest in him. Maybe that would have kept him in Bath.
Catherine goes to the theater in the evening with Isabella. They go together to the ballroom to dance. There is never any sign of Mr. Tilney no matter where they go or when they are out. However, rather than dismaying Catherine, his absence only increases her interest in him. She cannot get him off her mind.
Mrs. Allen and Mrs. Thorpe also form a friendship. They, too, spend a lot of time together. They do not have a lot in common except that they both enjoy having a friend with which they can talk. Mrs. Thorpe is constantly talking about her children, and Mrs. Allen only talks about clothes and fashion. She is secretly pleased that her clothes are of better quality than Mrs. Thorpe’s are.
Catherine and Isabella see each other every day. They most often spend their days out on the town, but even when it rains, they visit one another’s houses and read together. They prefer reading novels, mostly light reading, which is often criticized by literary reviewers. But they pay little attention to the critics and continue to enjoy their tales of heroes and heroines.
The narrator interjects to editorialize about the nature of fiction and how it is perceived. Novels are read mostly by women, the narrator informs the reader. These women mostly read in the privacy of their homes. When someone enters the room where they are reading, they tend to put the book down immediately as if they are ashamed of what they are reading. They know the novels they enjoy are not as deep as are books of history or philosophy. They are aware that much of the fiction they love is referred to as “trash.”
The narrator adds that novelists are completely underrated. Novelists work hard at their creations, which require genius and wit. A novelist, the narrator writes, must know human nature in all its varieties and must also master language. In contrast, books that people are told are important or that cover a more serious subject are often dull to read and contain “unnatural...
(The entire section is 436 words.)
Chapter 6 Summary
Catherine is late for a meeting with Isabella. When she arrives, Isabella chides her for making her wait so long, though Catherine notes she is just a few minutes late. Isabella will not hear this and complains she has been waiting forever—she has a tendency for exaggeration. Isabella asks what has kept her, and Catherine explains that she lost track of time because she was so involved in the novel she had been reading. She tells Isabella that she is reading The Mysteries of Udolpho, written by Ann Radcliffe and one of the most popular books of the late eighteenth century. Udolpho is now considered the archetype of Gothic novels.
As they stand in the Pump Room, a social center in Bath, Catherine and Isabella discuss other books they plan to read as they watch the people who are milling about. Their discussion changes from novels to women, and Isabella tells Catherine she will always be able to depend on her friendship. She will promote Catherine to her male friends, proving that women can be supportive of one another. Isabella tells Catherine about a woman she knows, Miss Andrews, who is not as pretty as Catherine is. However, Isabella tells all her young men friends that Miss Andrews is like an angel and they must agree with her or she will not dance with them. Isabella seems to say this to impress Catherine that she is a woman who is not jealous of other females.
Isabella then goes on to tell Catherine about how many men she has seen starring at Catherine. Catherine has not noticed this attention. It is because she is indifferent to men, Isabella says. She only thinks of Mr. Tilney. This must mean that Catherine is in love with him, Isabella says. Catherine denies this, stating that she only met him that one time and has not seen him since.
It does not take long before Isabella is talking about men again; she notices that two handsome men standing at a distance have noticed them. Isabella suggests that she and Catherine move to the other side of the room to get away from them. She insists that she will not look at them, but she asks Catherine to see if they are following them. When Catherine confirms that they are not, Isabella...
(The entire section is 497 words.)
Chapter 7 Summary
As Isabella and Catherine follow the two men from the Pump Room, they are barred from crossing the street by a carriage that is racing past them. When the carriage stops, they recognize the two men inside it as James Morland, Catherine’s brother, and John Thorpe, Isabella’s brother.
The women go to meet them, and Catherine is introduced to John, who is fairly handsome but quarrelsome. He argues with James about how fast they were going, how far they have traveled, and how long they have been on the road. John exaggerates the distance, speed, and duration. He also monopolizes the conversation. He tells Catherine about the man from whom he recently bought the carriage, how much he paid for it, and how strong his horse is. He asks Catherine if she has ever ridden in an open carriage. When she tells him she has not, he insists he will take her for a ride every day. Catherine wonders if this will be too much for the horse, but John insists that he drives the horse four hours each day because that is what keeps the animal in shape. When Isabella asks about going with them for a ride, John assures her there is not room for her.
As the four of them walk, Isabella notices the two gentlemen who had been in the Pump Room and is pleased that she is walking with her brother and James Morland. She wants to ignore the other two men, but after passing them, she turns around three times to look at them. Meanwhile the conversation turns to a discussion of women as John, James, and Isabella discuss every woman they pass.
Catherine barely listens to their conversation. Her mind is elsewhere. When there is a break in their talk, Catherine asks if John has ever read Udolpho. John adamantly insists that he has not. Novels are filled with junk, he exclaims. They are not worth his time. If he does read fiction, he only reads works written by Ann Radcliffe. Catherine points out that Udolpho was written by Radcliffe. John’s error does not stop him. He continues to criticize fiction in general.
The four young people venture toward the Thorpe residence. When Mrs. Thorpe opens the door, John meets her with a handshake and tells his mother that the hat she is wearing makes her look like a witch. He then greets his sisters and tells them they are ugly.
When Catherine and her brother later walk home, James tells her how much he enjoys both John and Isabella. He believes Isabella is the most...
(The entire section is 490 words.)
Chapter 8 Summary
It is evening, and James, Isabella, Catherine, and John go to the ball. John quickly excuses himself so he can enter the card room, leaving the other three behind. When James asks Isabella to dance, she tells him she will not dance until Catherine has a partner. However, only a few minutes later, Isabella tells Catherine—with much flourish—that James is so impatient to dance that she cannot refuse him. Isabella thus leaves Catherine to sit with Mrs. Thorpe and Mrs. Allen.
Catherine is depressed and feels like the other women who are sitting on the sidelines. She endures her discomfort by recalling heroines in her favorite novels who have fortitude and never complain in all their disagreeable situations. A few minutes later, she sees Mr. Tilney walking toward her. On his arm is a pretty young woman, whom Catherine assumes is his sister. Certainly the woman could not be his wife because Mr. Tilney had previously talked to Catherine as if he were a single man.
When Mr. Tilney and the young woman are introduced, it is confirmed that his partner is indeed his sister. She is a well-dressed woman who conducts herself with good sense and an unaffected manner. She shows good breeding, Catherine surmises. Mr. Tilney asks Catherine if she would like to dance, but before she can answer, John Thorpe returns. He insists that Catherine is his partner, and he pulls her toward the dance floor, where he continues his dull discussion about horses and carriages. While they dance, Catherine concludes that coming to a ball already engaged with a partner does not guarantee one will have a good time.
After completing two dances with John, Catherine returns to find that Mr. Tilney is dancing with someone else. So she joins in a conversation with Mr. Tilney’s sister. Catherine finds that this woman is very nice to be with. She does not exaggerate as much as Isabella does, and she comes across as being genuine about everything she discusses.
Isabella finally reappears. She blames Catherine’s brother for her absence. Isabella claims she has been looking for Catherine all this time but James was too lazy to help her. When James asks Isabella for another dance, she refuses him. She states that the custom does not allow so many dances with the same partner. People will think they are serious, she says. When she asks Catherine to confirm this, Catherine says she has never heard of the custom.
(The entire section is 455 words.)
Chapter 9 Summary
Catherine was very disappointed with the ball the night before. However, her spirits are restored upon awaking from a nine-hour sleep. Her plan for that day is to seek Miss Tilney at the Pump Room. Of all the people she had dealt with at the ball, Miss Tilney was most on her mind—with the exception of her brother. Catherine will wait until noon and then go by herself to the Pump Room and renew her acquaintance with Miss Tilney.
While she is reading in the parlor with Mrs. Allen, who is working on a sewing project, there is a loud knock on the door. When Mrs. Allen looks out the front window, she sees two carriages: one is empty and the other is occupied by James Morland and Isabella Thorpe. The sound of heavy footsteps comes up the stairs.
John Thorpe speaks to Catherine as if she has been keeping him and his party waiting. He asks why she is not ready, seeing as she probably has been anticipating his arrival all morning. Catherine does not know what John is talking about. He asks why she did not pay attention to their discussion the night before. They had made plans to go for a ride out into the country.
Though this is all news to Catherine, she gives in, changes her plans to seek out Miss Tilney, and quickly dresses. By the time she steps into the carriage, Isabella is all but exasperated by how long it took Catherine to get ready. She complains but then loudly tells Catherine’s brother how very much she loves his sister.
During the entire duration of the ride, John rattles on about how good he is at just about everything. He repeats his compliments about his mastery of his beautiful horse. He proclaims the superiority of his carriage over the one Catherine’s brother is steering and says the other is all but falling apart, until Catherine fears for her brother’s safety. As John prattles on, Catherine begins to evaluate John's character and realizes that he is very boastful and dishonest. He is capable, Catherine discovers, of giving two varied accounts of the same story, distorting one from the other, depending on how it affects his vanity. For example, at first he calls Catherine’s brother’s carriage a piece of junk. When Catherine worries that her brother might have an accident due to the carriage’s unreliability, John then says he would not have encouraged James to take such a long ride if he did not think the carriage was safe.
When they return home, Catherine is...
(The entire section is 489 words.)
Chapter 10 Summary
Mr. and Mrs. Allen, Catherine, her brother James, and the Thorpes go to the theater together. While they wait for the performance, Isabella wants Catherine to look around the audience to see if Mr. Tilney is there. She is very anxious to see what he looks like. She says he can hardly be expected “to exist” until she does.
Isabella quickly forgets this topic, though, and switches to one more personal. She talks about how much she and James are alike. Their opinions about every subject are identical, she declares. She looks over at James at this point and tells him that he is not to expect one word from her because she will be completely absorbed in conversation with Catherine—but not two minutes later, Catherine finds Isabella’s attention drawn away from her. Isabella and James are whispering to the exclusion of Catherine.
After the theater, the three of them continue on to the Pump Room, where a dance will soon be held. All the while they are walking, Isabella and James continue their private discussions but turn to ask for Catherine’s opinion on something without giving her the details of their conversation. Once at the Pump Room, Catherine welcomes her separation from them as she joins Miss Tilney. The young woman provides Catherine with a refreshing supply of simplicity and truth compared with Isabella. Catherine’s interest in Miss Tilney is renewed. Here is a woman without a hint of conceit.
All the while Catherine is there, she tries her best to avoid John Thorpe. When he does appear, Catherine attempts to hide from him by turning away or hiding her face behind her fan. She is excited when she sees Mr. Tilney approaching as if he were seeking her out. As soon as Tilney asks her to dance, John Thorpe intervenes, stating that he thought he had asked her first. Catherine denies this, but Thorpe insists, saying he had asked her a few days prior. When Catherine insists this is not true, Thorpe accuses her of playing a “shabby trick” on him. He complains that his friends will think him foolish because he had already told them he was going to dance with the prettiest girl in the room. Catherine says he should have nothing to worry about because surely they will not think he meant her.
Finally Catherine frees herself from Thorpe and dances with Tilney. While they are so engaged, Tilney compares dancing with marriage. Dancing involves a man and woman, as does marriage. The union is formed...
(The entire section is 541 words.)
Chapter 11 Summary
Catherine wakes up in a happy disposition, anxious for her walk with Mr. Tilney and his sister. But as she stands at the front window, watching the darkening skies, she fears that it will rain. Soon it does. Though her spirits are dampened, Catherine holds out hope that the clouds will clear before it is time for the Tilneys to appear at her door. They have promised to be there at noon.
At twenty after twelve, the rain continues and the Tilneys have not approached her door. Catherine discusses with Mrs. Allen the prospects of walking after such a downpour. It will be dirty, Mrs. Allen warns.
Shorty afterward, two carriages appear, as they did several days before. James Morland and Isabella are sitting in one. John Thorpe is in the other. John bangs on the door and comes in, insisting that Catherine dress as quickly as possible so they can begin their journey to Blaize Castle. Upon hearing of the castle, Catherine conjures up images of Gothic charm she has read about in her favorite novels. She wants to know if it is a real castle. John assures that it is. But she is torn. She tells John she has arranged a previous engagement with the Tilneys. At this, John acts surprised. He tells her he just passed the Tilneys. They were in a carriage, going in the opposite direction.
Catherine surmises that maybe the Tilneys had thought it too dirty to go for a walk. John confirms this, stating that the mud is at least ankle deep. Reluctantly, Catherine agrees to join his party. She rushes upstairs to dress, and soon they are off.
As they drive down the streets of Bath, John mentions that a curious woman had been staring at Catherine as they passed by. He wants to know who she was. Catherine turns to see Miss Tilney walking with her brother. At seeing them, Catherine is shocked. She wants to know how John could have deceived her so. John declares that he could have sworn it was Tilney he had seen earlier, riding out of town. The man looked just like him. Catherine also notices that there is no mud on the streets. Catherine insists that John stop the carriage immediately. John laughs as he spurs his horses on even faster than before. Even when Catherine yells at him, John does not slow his pace.
About halfway to their destination, James stops his carriage and tells John that it is taking them too long. They should have left earlier. They will not be able to make it to the castle and still have daylight...
(The entire section is 498 words.)
Chapter 12 Summary
Catherine sets out to walk to the Tilneys’ house. Upon arriving, she knocks on the door and is greetd by a butler. She asks if Miss Tilney is at home. The butler says he thinks she is, but he then he returns and says he was mistaken. Miss Tilney had just recently left.
Catherine is perplexed. She senses that the butler is not being honest. She walks away but looks back, thinking she might see someone at the window. She sees no one. After walking but a short distance from the house, however, she turns back again and sees someone leaving the house. It is Miss Tilney with her father. Catherine feels that the Tilneys are shaming her by refusing to see her because she missed the appointment with Miss Tilney and her brother the previous day.
That evening, Catherine goes to the theater with Mr. and Mrs. Allen. She searches the audience, hoping to see the Tilneys. It is not until the play is all but over that she finds Henry sitting with his father. She feels that Henry is avoiding eye contact with her, as he is completely absorbed in the play. For her part, Catherine is distracted from seeing any of the remaining acts of the play. Finally Henry looks at her, but there is no smile on his face upon recognition. He merely bows his head toward her, cordially and without any feeling.
After a while, Catherine looks back to where Henry had been sitting. Henry’s father is still there, but Henry’s seat is vacant. She hopes Henry is on his way to talk to her. In a few minutes, he approaches the box where Catherine is sitting. First Henry speaks to Mrs. Allen. Once he turns to Catherine, she immediately apologizes for having missed her walk with him the day before. She explains how she had been misled to think he had gone out of town and how, upon seeing him, she had tried to make Mr. Thorpe stop the carriage so she could get out to be with him. Henry’s expression softens at this news.
Catherine asks Henry why his sister slighted her by not answering her visit that morning. Henry tells her it was his father’s fault. His father was about to leave the house and had no extra time to meet with her, so he ordered the butler to say Miss Tilney was out.
Catherine glances over to where Henry’s father is sitting and sees John Thorpe is talking to the older gentleman. When John comes to talk to Catherine, she questions him about his conversation with Henry’s father. John says he played billiards with...
(The entire section is 479 words.)
Chapter 13 Summary
Catherine is walking with her brother, James, Isabella, and John Thorpe. Isabella tells Catherine about a plan they have concocted. They will once again attempt to go to Blaize Castle the following day. Catherine tells her she cannot go because she has scheduled a walk with Miss Tilney. Isabella does not allow this to bother her: all Catherine has to do is change that appointment to another day.
Catherine does not want to do this. She already missed the first time she was supposed to walk with Miss Tilney. John Thorpe tells Catherine she must go with them. She has only to tell Miss Tilney that she had forgotten about a previous engagement she had made with them. Catherine still resists.
Isabella becomes very disturbed. She says if Catherine does not go, then she cannot go. She cannot be the only woman with two men. Catherine suggests that they invite one of Isabella’s sisters to join them. At this, John is disgusted. He walks off as Isabella and James continue to berate Catherine for not giving in to their wishes. James calls his sister selfish and uncaring. He tells her that he used to think she was the nicest and most compassionate of all his sisters. Now he has changed his evaluation of her.
John returns to tell them the matter has been settled. He saw the Tilneys walking down the street and ran after them. He explained that although Catherine had been looking forward to walking with them, she had forgotten that she had already promised to go with him. He added that Catherine had sent him to deliver this message to them.
Catherine is terribly distressed. She tells John he had no right to tell them a lie. When she tries to leave, Isabella grabs her arm and will not let her go. Eventually Catherine gains her release and runs after the Tilneys.
She catches the Tilneys as they are entering their home. She explains everything. General Tilney accepts the story she tells them. He is impressed with Catherine; she can tell from the way he smiles at her. He asks if she can stay the rest of the day and dine with them. Although Catherine is grateful for the invitation, she has to refuse because the Allens are planning for her to be home for dinner.
When Catherine returns to the Allens’ home, she is rattled. She is glad she will be meeting with Miss Tilney the next day, but she is sorry that Isabella and her brother are so upset with her. She tells Mr. Allen what has happened. Mr....
(The entire section is 497 words.)
Chapter 14 Summary
The following morning, Catherine waits for Henry and Eleanor Tilney to show up for their planned walk. All the while, Catherine is very nervous that her brother, Isabella, and John Thorpe will come around and insist that she go with them to Blaize Castle. She is relieved when she sees no sign of them.
Soon the Tilneys arrive. She leaves with them, happy to finally have time to get to better know the brother and sister. Some of the initial topics that they discuss include what the three of them enjoy reading. Catherine confesses her love of Radcliffe’s writing, especially The Mysteries of Udolpho. To her surprise, Henry Tilney says this novel is one of his favorites. He says that he could not put the book down and read it in two days. His sister, Eleanor, tells Catherine that Henry read it out loud to her. Catherine could not be more pleased that a man actually praises fiction writing. Henry tells her that there are probably more men who read novels than she imagined.
Their conversation next includes a discussion of history books. Eleanor enjoys reading historical accounts. Catherine confides that she finds history boring. There is so little imagination used in writing the dull texts. History is filled with the conquests of men, with little mention of women’s accomplishments. She adds that forcing children to read such boring accounts is tantamount to torture. Henry laughs at her. He points out if she had not been forced to learn how to read, she would not now be enjoying novels. Some torture is actually good, Henry says.
As they go, Catherine comments that the river they are walking along reminds her of France. Henry is interested in her travel experiences. Catherine has to admit that she has never been outside of England, except through books. The scenes that are described, especially in Radcliffe’s novels, she tells him, have made her feel as if she has seen other places.
In the course of their discussions, Henry teases Catherine about some of the words she uses. For example, Catherine describes the book she is currently reading as being “nice.” Henry complains that the word nice is overused and can be employed to describe everything from clothes to food to a description of someone’s personality. Eleanor chides her brother. She then explains to Catherine that Henry is wont to tease. He is taunting Catherine as he often mocks his sister. This insinuates that...
(The entire section is 563 words.)
Chapter 15 Summary
Isabella meets with Catherine and tells her how much she is in love with James Morland. During their outing to Blaize Castle, Isabella says, James confided in her that he feels the same about her. With great exclamation, Isabella adds that she and James are engaged. She and Catherine are finally to be sisters, as Isabella has always imagined. Isabella adds that she will be closer to Catherine than she is to her real sisters. The Morlands will be more of a family to her than her own.
Isabella provides very few details about the trip. She does not reprimand Catherine for not going with them to Blaize Castle. All sentiment is focused on Isabella and her emotions. Isabella is happy that James wants to marry her but feels concerned that the Morlands will not accept her. Catherine tells her this is nonsense. Her parents would never go against whomever James has chosen. If he wants to marry Isabella, her parents will only be happy for him. This does not calm Isabella. She can think of nothing else but being rejected. When James appears, she hurries him off on his journey home. She cannot be expected to wait any longer. James will send a letter to let her know of his parents’ reaction.
John Thorpe appears as James is about to leave. He reminds Catherine of an old adage that states where there is one wedding, there are often two, meaning that he hopes he too will be married. He then asks if Catherine plans to attend the marriage ceremony of her brother. Catherine says of course she will be there. John takes this to mean more than Catherine has intended, as he does with everything else Catherine says. He has a specific agenda in his mind, and it seems that no matter how Catherine reacts to him, he takes her words and expressions to complement what he hopes to accomplish. Toward the purpose of ensuring that his sister’s wedding will encourage his own, he tells Catherine that he will soon be visiting her family. We wants to know if he will be welcome. Catherine tells him that she is sure her parents would enjoy seeing him. This makes John very hopeful, though Catherine has no hidden meaning to her response. John’s conversation continues. In reaction to everything he says, Catherine is cordial. This makes John feel encouraged. He tells Catherine that they think alike and insinuates that they are made for one another.
When Catherine leaves John and goes home, she is disappointed that Mr. and Mrs. Allen are not surprised...
(The entire section is 496 words.)
Chapter 16 Summary
Catherine reflects on her previous evening’s dinner with the Tilneys; she cannot help but be disappointed. When she analyzes why this is so, she finds the following reason: Miss Tilney was rather withdrawn. The dinner did little to increase any sense of intimacy between them. With Henry, Catherine was surprised at how little he talked, less than at other meetings. Although she cannot blame General Tilney for the change in the brother’s or the sister’s manners, Catherine determines that she was glad to be rid of the father. She will wait, however, before defining her relationship with Henry and Eleanor Tilney. They will be at the dance that night. Catherine will see if the previous evening’s encounter has permanently changed the way the Tilneys act toward her.
When Catherine confides in Isabella, telling her friend about the dinner at the Tilneys’, Isabella's conclusion is that the Tilneys have too much pride. The entire family thinks they are better than everyone else, she says. Catherine is quick to disagree. She had not witnessed one moment of conceit, especially not with Miss Tilney. Isabella warns Catherine not to defend the Tilneys; they are not worthy of her praise. Henry, especially, is unworthy of Catherine. Mr. Tilney is so different from Isabella’s brother, John, she tells Catherine. Never would John have been so quiet around Catherine as Mr. Tilney was the night before.
After a long discourse on the topic of the Tilneys, Catherine asks Isabella if she is going to dance that night. Isabella is reluctant, or so she says. She finally gives in but states if she must go, she surely will not dance. She misses James.
Catherine refuses to be influenced by Isabella’s impressions of the Tilneys. At the dance, she is relieved to find Miss Tilney acting like her usual self, happy to see Catherine and talkative. Henry is attentive and does not waste time asking Catherine to dance. While dancing, a man whom Catherine learns is Henry’s older brother pulls Henry away from her. At first Catherine wonders if Captain Tilney has heard a rumor that Catherine is not good enough for his brother. The two men are gone for a long time. When they return, Catherine discovers that all Captain Tilney wanted was to know who Isabella was and would she dance with him. Catherine tells him she is sorry to say that Isabella is engaged and has insisted she will not dance that evening. Captain Tilney walks away. The next...
(The entire section is 543 words.)
Chapter 17 Summary
Catherine is saddened by the fast-approaching date of her departure from Bath. Her concern is slightly alleviated when she hears that the Allens have extended their stay by one week. But this still gives Catherine only three weeks in which to enjoy the pleasures and excitements Bath has offered her. Her experience has far extended her hopes. She had come from a small village, where country routines had perpetuated a monotonous pattern. Bath, in contrast, has provided her with new friends, exciting excursions, and hints of romance. She does not want to leave. One extra week is a blessing, but she still longs for more.
While visiting Miss Tilney, Catherine learns that the Tilneys are leaving even sooner. They will be gone in seven days. Catherine is disappointed again. General Tilney is not pleased with Bath, Miss Tilney tells Catherine. Some of his closest friends will not be visiting Bath this year, and they were the main reason he had come. He also has received word from the steward of his estate that there are matters for which he is needed at home.
When General Tilney enters the room where Catherine and Eleanor Tilney are sitting, he asks his daughter if she has presented Catherine with their proposal. Miss Tilney has not, so General Tilney extends an invitation for Catherine to come with them to Northanger Abbey, where they live. Catherine is delighted. She can think of nothing better to have happened to her. She will not only be able to live inside a great manor, an ancient structure like those she has read about in her novels, but she will be in close company with both the man and the young woman whom she is learning to love. The other thing that thrills her is that the Tilney family desires to have her stay with them. She only has to ask for her parents’ and the Allens’ consent. She is sure they will grant it.
The Tilneys’ abbey once housed a cloister of nuns during the Reformation (in the sixteenth century). Catherine is enthusiastic about the Tilneys’ nonchalant attitude toward owning such a grand home. They were born to it, she surmises, thus imbuing them with the “power of early habit.” They have no sense of superiority over those who are not as fortunate at they are.
(The entire section is 388 words.)
Chapter 18 Summary
Catherine has not seen Isabella for several days but meets her one morning in the Pump Room. Isabella steers Catherine away from Mrs. Allen and leads her to a bench near the front doors, telling Catherine this is her favorite place to sit down. It is obvious to Catherine that Isabella is distracted, as if she is waiting for someone to walk through the doors. Isabella denies this and proceeds to tell Catherine that she has received a letter from her brother John.
Isabella asks teasingly what Catherine thinks is in John’s letter. She thinks Catherine can probably guess what John has written. Catherine assures Isabella that she has no idea of the contents. At this, Isabella accuses Catherine of having false modesty and encourages Catherine to be a little more honest. She then proceeds to say John has conveyed his interest in marrying Catherine. He says he all but proposed to Catherine the last time they were together. Catherine is completely unaware of any such thing. Isabella tries to prompt Catherine’s memory of the event and says that John proposed and he said Catherine received his sentiments in a most kindly manner. John has written to ask his sister to further encourage Catherine to accept his offer.
Catherine tells Isabella that nothing of what John writes ever happened. She is interested only in one man, and that man is not Isabella’s brother. Catherine asks Isabella to write back to John so as to make clear that she has no inclination to marry him. Isabella only half hears Catherine’s words. In Isabella’s mind, Catherine must have at one time been interested in John or John would not be so affected by her. She tells Catherine that it is an ordinary thing for young people to change their minds, insinuating that this is what Catherine has done.
A couple of times in her conversation, Isabella refers to statements “Tilney” has made as a way of expressing her feelings. For example, at one point she says Tilney has said that most people are often deceived of their true affections. Catherine does not react to these allusions, but she more fully understands the mention of this name when Captain Tilney, Henry’s brother, walks through the door. Isabella reacts as if she has been expecting him. He comes directly to Isabella and begins flirting with her. Catherine is shocked to witness Isabella not only accepting his flirtations but encouraging them. How could Isabella be doing this while she is...
(The entire section is 462 words.)
Chapter 19 Summary
Catherine notices the changes in Isabella. When they are in a group of friends, the changes seem slight and noticeable. But when Catherine is alone with Captain Tilney and Isabella, she is shocked by the attention Isabella gives to the man. She pays almost as much attention to Captain Tilney as she does to James.
James looks sullen whenever Catherine sees him, and she feels sorry for him. Catherine believes Captain Tilney must not know that Isabella is engaged to James, otherwise he would not be as attentive to Isabella. Catherine wishes Captain Tilney were leaving with his family when they go to Northanger Abbey. Then Isabella would have no occasion to flirt with him and James would be happier. However, Catherine has heard that Captain Tilney is not leaving with his family.
Catherine implores Henry to talk to his brother, to make him aware that Isabella is engaged. Henry informs Catherine that he has already passed on this information to his brother. His brother knows what he is doing, Henry says, and must be allowed to be his own master. Henry continues by stating that his brother is not the only one to blame. Isabella could refuse his advances, but she does not. If Isabella truly loved James, would she not stop encouraging Henry’s brother? Catherine must admit that Isabella is also at fault, but she still asks if General Tilney might insist that Captain Tilney leave Bath. She wants to know if Henry’s father is aware of what is going on and if he is concerned.
Henry asks Catherine if she is not taking her worries too far. He asks her to consider whether James would thank her for trying to protect him. Would he be grateful for her concern that Isabella will be faithful to him only when Captain Tilney is absent? Is James to be confident of Isabella’s love only when they are at together in solitude? No one can know what is in another person’s heart, Henry says. Catherine should trust that James, Isabella, and Captain Tilney know what they are doing. They know what they are feeling; only they can determine what path they must take. Besides this, Henry says, his brother will be leaving in a few days even if he is not going to Northanger Abbey. He needs to report back to duty. He will forget about Isabella, and Isabella will soon not remember him.
Catherine gives in to Henry’s counsel. She releases her distress about Isabella and James. Henry is right.
(The entire section is 425 words.)
Chapter 20 Summary
As the day arrives for Catherine’s departure to Northanger Abbey, Mr. and Mrs. Allen grow distressed. They have greatly enjoyed Catherine’s company. They note, however, that their own stay in Bath is coming to an end and they would have to give up Catherine one way or the other.
Mr. Allen walks Catherine to the Tilneys’ house to have breakfast with them before they begin their journey. After saying good-bye to Mr. Allen, Catherine suffers moments when she wishes she could go back with him. She is so agitated about fitting in with the Tilney family that she does not enjoy the first few moments. She wants to make sure she does everything right so the Tilneys will like her. However, Catherine is also anxious about the attention General Tilney lavishes on her. She feels unworthy of his praise.
As they eat breakfast, General Tilney turns his thoughts to his eldest son. Captain Frederick Tilney is late coming to the table. When he appears, General Tilney again makes Catherine feel self-conscious as he tells his son that his tardiness is an insult to their guest. Frederick barely speaks a word until General Tilney finishes eating and leaves the room.
Soon after breakfast, General Tilney hurries everyone into the carriages that will take them to Northanger Abbey. Halfway there, General Tilney leaves the carriage he has been sharing with Henry and tells Catherine to take his place. At first Catherine does not know whether she should accept his invitation because she recalls what Mr. Allen has told her about the impropriety of riding with a young man in an open carriage. Then Catherine decides to trust General Tilney’s judgment on this matter.
Throughout much of the remaining ride, Henry describes Northanger Abbey as if the manor were similar to one found in a Gothic novel. He speaks of secret doors, bloody footprints, discarded knives, and a bedroom separated from the family quarters in which Catherine will be forced to sleep. Catherine admits, at one point, that Henry is scaring her, but she does not hesitate to encourage him to continue with his story. She knows he is teasing her.
Upon arriving at Northanger Abbey, Catherine is surprised and even somewhat disappointed about how modern the abbey looks. There are no spider webs in the corners. The furniture is almost new. The windows are made with clear glass, and much light is let through them into the rooms.
(The entire section is 455 words.)
Chapter 21 Summary
Alone in her room, Catherine takes some time to look around her new quarters, although she knows she is expected for dinner shortly. The room is different from how Henry had described it. There are no tapestries hanging on the wall, behind which strangers might lurk. The large windows let in much sunlight. The room is not scary, as Henry had laughingly suggested.
There is an unusual wooden chest, though. It is large and pushed to one side as if in an attempt to partially conceal it. Catherine is drawn to it. Henry had mentioned a chest, and she is anxious to explore this one. She struggles with the lock and the heavy weight of the lid. Just as she is opening it, Eleanor enters the room. Eleanor calmly alludes to the chest, saying it is indeed an unusual piece of furniture. She had it pushed to the side to get it out of the way and had thought it a good place to store hats. Then Eleanor reminds Catherine it is time for dinner. They must hurry downstairs because General Tilney is waiting for them.
Catherine forgets about the trunk immediately upon coming into the presence of General Tilney. His tone is abrupt and loud and he emphasizes the need for timeliness. Catherine is uncomfortable with him even after he tries to temper his stern manner. He talks about the grand size of the dinning room, stating that the space is necessary for an eating room. He assumes Catherine has eaten in rooms even larger, but she insists she has not.
When Catherine returns to her room, she is relieved to be rid of General Tilney. He makes her feel very tense. She relaxes as she re-examines where she will be sleeping. As she settles in, however, she becomes acutely aware of the strangeness around her. There is a strong storm brewing outside, and the wind is making the curtains billow. She knows there is no one hiding behind the curtains, but she must check to assure herself. She laughs at the thought, then notices a tall black cabinet almost exactly like one Henry had described. Henry had been teasing her about the contents of her room and mimicked the narrative of the Gothic novels Catherine loved to read. Although she had dismissed his teasing, she now thinks what he had told her appears to be true.
She walks over to the locked cabinet and tries to open it. After a short struggle, she is successful. Inside is a series of drawers and another, smaller locked door. She pulls open every drawer and examines each one for secret...
(The entire section is 556 words.)
Chapter 22 Summary
Upon awakening the next morning, Catherine waits only long enough for the morning maid to leave her bedroom before she gets out of bed and rushes toward the manuscript she had found in the tall cabinet the night before. What she had thought was a large scroll of rolled paper turns out to be several separate small pieces of paper rolled together. Some of the pieces are strewn on the floor, and she is surprised the maid did not pick them up.
Catherine hastens to read the writing on the papers. She is disappointed when she reads what turns out to be lists of clothing supplies, laundry lists, and bills. She wonders how she could have been so foolish, how she could have waited up most of the night in anticipation of some great mystery that was about to be revealed to her. How embarrassed she would be if Henry knew what she had imagined. But she decides that part of the blame belongs to him. Henry was the one who fed her imagination with his fanciful stories of what she would find in the room. However, she hopes he never finds out what she has done. Quickly she replaces the papers and locks the doors of the bureau.
After breakfast, Henry announces that he must leave to attend to business, so Catherine is left in the abbey with General Tilney and Eleanor. She wishes it were Eleanor alone, as she still cannot find comfort in the general’s company.
The general offers to join Eleanor in giving Catherine a tour of the abbey. This excites Catherine because she has been anxious to see the rest of the immense structure, but then the general steers them toward the gardens. The general says they can choose what to see first but pushes them to choose the spacious grounds around the abbey. Catherine is disappointed because she would much rather see the building first.
The general leads the way and shows off the extensive gardens; he asks Catherine to compare them with those of her father and Mr. Allen. There is no comparison, Catherine tells him. This pleases the general enough to stimulate a smile.
General Tilney leaves their company when they reach a path that wanders through a rather gloomy stretch of overgrown trees. Eleanor says this is her favorite. The general tells them he will meet them later. Upon his departure, Eleanor confesses that this particular part of the gardens was her mother’s favorite.
As they continue their walk, Catherine reflects on the general’s behavior and...
(The entire section is 493 words.)
Chapter 23 Summary
Catherine’s tour of the gardens is completed. She has been waiting inside the abbey for General Tilney to appear so that the tour of the interior can begin. After the girls wait an hour, the general comes inside. Catherine interprets the general’s long meditations alone in the gardens as a sign of depression or gloom. Despite Catherine’s presumed attitude for the man, the general smiles and leads Catherine and Eleanor on a tour of the largest, more public rooms.
The furnishings and size of the rooms do not affect Catherine. She is more interested in the history of the building and its reflection on the personal lives of the Tilneys. However, the general guides them away from the personal rooms. Catherine sees some of the more intimate rooms down long halls, but the general prohibits her advancement. At one point, when the general closes a great door, stopping Catherine’s progress forward, Eleanor explains that down that particular room they would find her mother’s rooms.
Walking far enough behind the general so he cannot hear her, Catherine asks Eleanor if she had been at home when her mother died. Eleanor confides that she had not. She had been away. When news reached her that her mother was ailing, she had come home was too late. Her mother’s illness had come on quickly and took her within a very short period of time. Catherine asks how long it has been since Eleanor’s mother died. Eleanor answers that it has been nine years.
Catherine’s imagination is stimulated once again. She grows more intensely suspicious of the general and his relationship with his former wife. She wonders, had the general mistreated Mrs. Tilney? Could he be guilty of somehow been involved in her untimely death? Why, after nine years, is no one allowed in Mrs. Tilney’s rooms?
The tour of the house continues. Catherine is disappointed to see a section of the abbey that has been completely torn down and replaced with a series of very modern-looking rooms. The architecture does not match that of the original abbey; there has been no apparent interest in retaining the historical feeling of the place. A long hall with several doors opening onto single, small rooms that had once been used by nuns reminds Catherine of the abbey’s original inhabitants. She marvels at how hard the nuns must have labored to keep the abbey functional. From stories she has read, she knows the nuns had no maids or servants to aid...
(The entire section is 481 words.)
Chapter 24 Summary
Catherine awakens the next day with hopes that she will see the rest of the abbey. She waits until the general has gone for a walk and then asks Eleanor if she will show her the rooms they did not see the previous day. Eleanor agrees and first takes Catherine to see her mother’s portrait. In the picture Catherine searches for resemblances to Eleanor and Henry in the mother’s face. They then proceed through the gallery and reach the door that leads to Catherine’s mother’s rooms. Just as Eleanor is about to turn the doorknob, a loud voice booms out from behind them, calling out the name “Eleanor.”
At the sound of the general’s voice, Catherine is filled with terror. Eleanor follows her father out of view, leaving Catherine alone. Catherine waits for the sound of her name next, but when she does not hear it, she quickly slips away to her room. There she waits until she sees a carriage arrive at the front door. Visitors have come. With this distraction, Catherine goes downstairs and mingles with the people who are milling around the general. When he sees her, he invites her to him and introduces her to the strangers. His mood is gentle and his tone is polite.
Later, Catherine decides that the safest way to make her next attempt to see Mrs. Tilney’s bedroom is to do it alone. Eleanor should know nothing about this arrangement, Catherine determines. In this way, if the general should catch her, he would only become angry with her, not with his daughter.
Catherine goes to her room early to dress for dinner. When she senses that no one is in the hallway, she sneaks out and climbs the stairs to Mrs. Tilney’s room. She advances without meeting anyone and slips into the room. This room is nothing like she had imagined. It is bright and comfortable. As Catherine looks around at the elegance provided, she realizes she has once again made a mistake. This is not a room that suggests danger or torture.
Catherine quickly exits the room, but as she does so, she hears someone coming up the stairs. She is fearful that it is the general and is very surprised when she sees Henry, who was not supposed to be home until the next day. Catherine asks him what he is doing there. Henry responds that this is a shortcut to the stables. He then asks what she is doing there. Catherine is honest and tells Henry she had come to investigate his mother’s room.
Catherine tries to explain, but the more she...
(The entire section is 538 words.)
Chapter 25 Summary
Catherine is filled with shame for having been found out by Henry, and she laments that Henry might have lost all affection for her. She is sure that whatever he might have felt for her before has been spoiled by her fantasy that Henry’s father had tortured his mother. She should have known better than to think so poorly of General Tilney and his relationship with his wife. How horribly wrong she had been to assume so many detrimental things. She had jumped to conclusions through a combination of events that she had misinterpreted and her proclivity for drama. She allowed her enjoyment of Gothic romance and mystery books to color her thoughts, to influence her to poorly judge the general’s character. Catherine realizes that human nature, especially in England, is more complex than that of the characters in her favorite novels. However, she fears she might have learned her lesson too late. Surely Henry will have little to do with her now.
Catherine goes down to dinner to find, to her surprise, that Henry is more attentive to her than he had been before. Throughout the meal, he is very gentle in his conversations with her. He smiles at her as if nothing has happened. By the end of dinner, Catherine is once again at ease. Henry has given her hope that his affection for her is still alive. She vows to be more careful in coming to conclusions in the future.
As time passes, Catherine becomes less concerned about the mistakes she has made and is more involved in present matters. She begins to worry that she has not received any letters from Isabella. Her friend promised to write, but still no news arrives from Bath. Just when she is about to give up all hope of receiving a letter, Henry hands her one in the morning as she goes down to breakfast. When she looks at the envelope, though, she discovers it is not from Isabella as she had expected but is from her brother James. Catherine reads the letter before sitting down at the table.
James writes that he is back at Oxford and that his engagement with Isabella is off. His heart is broken. He cannot understand how he had been so blind. Even though he had felt his relationship with Isabella had suddenly changed, Isabella continued ensuring him that he was wrong and she still loved him. Then when he least expected it, she told him that she was engaged to another man. Without naming the other man directly, James writes that Catherine might want to find out when Captain...
(The entire section is 560 words.)
Chapter 26 Summary
Catherine considers the discussions she has heard between Eleanor and Henry about the unlikelihood that General Tilney will accept Isabella as Captain Tilney’s wife, and she wonders if she will have to endure a similar fate. If the general turns down Isabella because of a lack of family status and wealth, surely he will also not approve of Catherine, who is even poorer. She also believes that Henry should tell his father about his opinions of Isabella so the general will have time to ponder the situation before Captain Tilney arrives. This will give the general time to objectively reflect on the topic and possibly prepare his case for or against Isabella on more suitable grounds—not based on status and money. Henry disagrees. He believes his brother must submit his own explanation for his engagement as well as the merits of his chosen bride. Henry thinks it very curious that his brother has not yet come home to announce his plans. Neither Eleanor nor Henry understand the meaning behind Frederick’s delay.
The general, not knowing any of the news about Frederick’s engagement, is in a generous mood. He mentions that he would have liked to have given a ball for Catherine or a dinner party. However, most of his neighbors are away, so he dismisses those ideas. Instead, he offers a ride over to Woodston, where the Tilneys own a parsonage, which has already been given to Henry.
Catherine is excited about going some place different. Although Catherine had never imagined it would, the abbey has become rather familiar and ordinary by now. Henry leaves to make sure the parsonage is running smoothly and to buy all the provisions necessary for a family dinner. Catherine is surprised when Henry says he must leave. The general had told Henry not to fuss over dinner, that anything ordinary would do. Henry has a better understanding of his father and insinuates that the general did not mean what he said. General Tilney is a very picky eater.
Finally Eleanor, Catherine, and the general begin the twenty-mile journey to the parsonage, which is in a small village called Woodston. Catherine is impressed and tells Eleanor and the general that Woodston is one of the nicest small towns she has ever seen. She is likewise pleased with the parsonage. Henry greets them at the front of the house with two of his dogs and gives them a tour. Both the inside and outside of the house are notable in Catherine’s mind. When they end up in...
(The entire section is 523 words.)
Chapter 27 Summary
A strange letter arrives for Catherine from Isabella. Isabella begins by apologizing for having taken so long to write. She claims she has put a pen in her hand every morning with the intention of writing, but something always interfered. Then she asks Catherine to write to James, who has gone to Oxford in a terrible mood. Isabella claims she cannot make sense of James’s sudden departure and misses him very much. Although she looks hideous in purple, it is the only color she wears now because purple is James’s favorite. She adds that James is the only man she could love and wants Catherine to relay her message.
Isabella then continues her letter by remarking on Captain Tilney, who followed her around like a shadow after Catherine left Bath. She says she does not want to talk about him because it might influence Catherine’s opinion about the Tilney family, yet she hates Captain Tilney. Young men nowadays are very difficult to trust, she writes. She is glad that she was not affected by Captain Tilney. Other young women might have been flattered by all his attention, but not her. She is too experienced in how fickle men can be.
Captain Tilney has returned to his regiment. Isabella is glad about that. She had been avoiding him during his last days in town. Captain Tilney, Isabella assures Catherine, is very different from James, not worthy to even be compared. James’s bad mood, Isabella thinks, might have been due to a cold he had. Before ending her letter, Isabella again asks Catherine to explain everything to James for her.
After reading the letter, Catherine decides she will never mention Isabella’s name to James again. Catherine finally sees how insincere Isabella is and how much she has used both Catherine and James for her own benefit. She is ashamed about how shallow her friend has turned out to be.
When Henry arrives from Woodston, Catherine tells him about Isabella’s letter. She says that Isabella must have taken her to be a fool. Catherine decides that Isabella must never have had any affections for either her or James. She is glad they are all rid of her. Then Catherine asks Henry what he thinks his brother was doing with Isabella. She wonders why he would have pursued her when he did not really want her. Henry answers that he does not know what his brother’s motives were. Catherine says she thinks Frederick really did not love Isabella. Henry agrees. He says that Isabella and...
(The entire section is 441 words.)
Chapter 28 Summary
General Tilney is obliged to go to London for a week. This allows Eleanor, Catherine, and Henry to have the abbey to themselves. Before he leaves, the general apologizes for having to leave Catherine and orders his children to ensure her comfort. The three of them are not saddened by the departure of General Tilney; on the contrary, they rejoice. They laugh more, relax more, and walk when and where they want to without having the general to order them about. Each person feels a sense of release in his absence.
The only slight unhappiness for Catherine is the realization that she has been at Northanger for almost four weeks. Staying any longer will seem an imposition, she thinks, so she raises the issue with Eleanor. Without any hesitation, Eleanor wants to know if Catherine is needed at home. Catherine assures her that she is not. Eleanor confesses that she would miss Catherine if she went away and implores her to stay longer. Feeling she has had her invitation officially extended, Catherine agrees. Through this gesture of welcome, Catherine believes Eleanor loves her. She also allows herself to think that Henry loves her too. In addition, the general has given every sign that he approves of her.
Henry announces that he must return to Woodston on business. Although Catherine is saddened by his departure, with the general out of the house, she knows that she and Eleanor will enjoy themselves. This proves to be true. Hours slip away without the general constantly reminding them to be prompt to one meal or another or to go for an excursion outside at an arranged time.
Without a prior announcement of his arrival, Frederick shows up at the abbey. Eleanor goes to greet him while Catherine, not anxious to see him, goes upstairs to her room. She waits to be called, but no one comes to get her. Time passes and finally she hears footsteps in the hall and sees that someone is hesitantly turning the door handle. She goes to the door and opens it. Eleanor is outside and looks as if she is in a state of shock. Her face is pale and she has trouble speaking. Finally she is able to convey some terrible news. Her father has announced that he is taking the family away in a couple of days. Not only is Catherine excluded from his plans, he has ordered that she must be gone by early the next morning. A carriage has been ordered for her, Eleanor tells her, but she must travel without a chaperone.
Eleanor does not explain...
(The entire section is 510 words.)
Chapter 29 Summary
Catherine is unwilling to look out on the scenery around the abbey; she sits low in the carriage and averts her eyes. She cannot endure the thought of leaving this place and all the memories she has made here. Just ten days previously, she had been traveling along the same road on her way to Woodston. She had been so joyful, had thought Henry loved her, and had believed that Henry’s father approved. So much has changed and she does not understand why. She longs to know why the general has sent her away, what Henry will think when he finds out, and how Henry and Eleanor will talk of her.
Catherine’s journey ends without incident. She arrives home to the embraces of her family and to their questions. She does not know how to answer them without humbling herself and hurting them. The narrator intrudes to compare the heroine of typical Gothic novels of the day to the heroine in this story. Here is Catherine returning home at the end of the story, but rather than coming home in triumph, Catherine ends her journey in solitude and disgrace.
With her family at the door as she descends from the carriage, Catherine’s best emotions are awakened. The hugs she receives revive her heart more than she had imagined they could. It takes a while, however, before she is strong enough to attempt to figure out a reason for her unexpected arrival. Even though she wants to offer an explanation, she is unable to do so. The most she can conjure up, with the help of her parents, is that an insult has been committed against her. Not only had General Tilney insisted that she leave the abbey on short notice, he had placed her in peril by having her travel such a great distance alone. He has not acted honorably at all, Mr. and Mrs. Morland decide. Mrs. Morland would have worried, she says, had she heard of Catherine’s pending trip home. But now that Catherine is safe, nothing else matters. In fact, the experience might have actually helped Catherine’s confidence because she was forced to figure things out on her own.
After breakfast the next day, Catherine tries to write a letter to Eleanor. She is conscious that Henry or even General Tilney might read it. So she is very careful with the words she uses. In the end, she decides to keep the letter short and include a repayment of the money Eleanor gave her for her journey.
Afterward, Catherine and her mother visit the Allens, who are both shocked by the news of how...
(The entire section is 512 words.)
Chapter 30 Summary
Mrs. Morland worries about her daughter as she observes Catherine’s inability to sit still and her lack of interest in any chores about the house. After a few days, she warns Catherine not to lose herself in memories of what has happened or in comparing the circumstances of where she has been with the situation in which she presently lives. One must always appreciate home, she tells her daughter.
Catherine’s mood persists until a young man comes to visit—it is Henry Tilney. He is, at first, embarrassed for showing his face at the Morland home after what his father has done to Catherine. However, Mrs. Morland insists that he is welcomed. She is pleased not only by his gentle looks but also by the rising spirits she notices in her daughter. After talking for several minutes, Henry asks about the Allens, wondering if they have returned from Bath. He then suggests that Catherine show him the way to the Allens’ house so he can pay his respects. Mrs. Morland, who perceives immediately the need for Catherine and Henry to have some privacy, allows her daughter to walk with him.
As they walk, Henry declares his love for Catherine. After quarreling with his father, he had immediately left Northanger Abbey and rode straight to Catherine to make sure she was safe.
The narrator describes what happened and provided the reasons behind General Tilney’s poor behavior. The narrator states that it is unknown whether Catherine hears this information from Henry or from letters from other people. Then the details are given.
During his stay in Bath, General Tilney had approached John Thorpe to ask about Catherine’s background and family. John, at the time, had been pursuing Catherine and hoped to eventually marry her. John wanted to promote himself through her, so he inflated Catherine’s story so as to make Catherine appear very rich and from a very noble family. The general had been searching for a proper wife for his son, so he invited Catherine to the abbey. He wanted to study her and, as Catherine had supposed, the general had approved of her manners and intelligence. In his mind, Catherine would make the perfect bride for Henry.
While the general was away, however, he had again met with John Thorpe. This time, though, John knew he had no chance to win Catherine’s hand and Isabella had broken her engagement with James. There was no longer any need for John to exaggerate the wealth and status...
(The entire section is 508 words.)
Chapter 31 Summary
Henry approaches Mr. and Mrs. Morland to ask for Catherine’s hand. They are surprised by the announcement because they had never had a thought about the young people’s attraction. They approve of Henry and want nothing more than Catherine’s happiness. She will not prove to be a good housewife, Mrs. Morland tells Henry, but she is young enough to still learn.
There is only one impediment to Henry and Catherine’s engagement: the Morlands insist that Henry obtain his father’s consent. They make no demands for money for their daughter, as she has a small sum that is due her, and Henry earns enough to keep them well.
Henry leaves to procure his father’s approval. Although they are certain the general will eventually give in to their request, Catherine is saddened that Henry must leave her. The narrator suggests that they stayed in touch through letter writing, though the narrator has no proof of this. Mrs. Morland notices that Catherine receives correspondence each day, but she does not read the envelope to discover the sender.
The narrator also states that though readers might assume that the story will end happily, it might be difficult to figure out how Henry was going to soften his father’s temper. Fortunately, Eleanor becomes engaged to a young man of great wealth and title. The general is so overcome with pride at the marriage of his only daughter that when she asks him to forgive Henry and allow him to marry Catherine, the general is in such a good mood that he agrees to both.
The man who has asked Eleanor to marry him has long admired her, but he was, at the time, too far beneath Eleanor’s status and means to request her hand. As soon as circumstances changed in his favor, he hastened to her side and announced his intentions. No one is more entitled to happiness, the narrator states, than Eleanor, who has suffered under her father’s stern rule. With marriage comes the release from her controlling father and the reward of companionship with the “most charming young man in the world.”
As to the general’s opinion of the Morlands, he becomes better informed and concedes that Catherine is worth enough to marry his son. So soon after Eleanor’s wedding, the general asks Henry to return to Northanger. While there, General Tilney writes a long letter to Mr. Morland, announcing that he has sanctioned the marriage of Henry and Catherine. Henry and Catherine are married....
(The entire section is 458 words.)