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.