The visions of romance were over. Catherine was completely awakened. Henry’s address, short as it had been, had more thoroughly opened her eyes to the extravagance of her late fancies than all their several disappointments had done. Most grievously was she humbled. Most bitterly did she cry. It was not only with herself that she was sunk – but with Henry. Her folly, which now seemed even criminal, was all exposed to him, and he must despise her forever. The Narrator, Chapter 25
Catherine fears that the romance is over. Henry’s questions had opened her eyes to the extravagance of her late fancies. She acknowledges that she had forced horror into every situation craving to be frightened, tracing the source to reading Mrs. Radcliffe’s novels. She is determined to judge and act in the future only with good sense and forgive herself. Henry is noble and attentive, never mentioning the incident again. A letter from James reveals that he has broken off his engagement to Isabella unable to bear her duplicity with Captain Tilney. Henry and Eleanor are very doubtful of the possibility of an engagement because of Isabella’s fortune and connections. Catherine sees no problem since General Tilney is so liberal, “he only valued money as it allowed him to promote the happiness of his children.” An excursion is planned to Henry’s home at Woodston, and preparations require him to leave early. They arrive and Catherine is given the tour of the house and grounds. In her heart she prefers it to any other place she had ever been to. A letter arrives from Isabella. She is fearful that there is some misunderstanding between her and James wanting Catherine to write and make amends for her. Catherine sees what she is about and wishes that she had never known her. The General leaves for London and Catherine, Eleanor and Henry enjoy their freedom. He returns unannounced and informs Eleanor that they have another engagement that will take them away. Eleanor sadly informs Catherine that she must leave the next morning. Catherine feels that she has done something wrong to be treated so abruptly, bids her friend adieu and asks to be remembered to Henry who is away at Woodston. Dejected she departs for her home and family.
We see our heroine Catherine maturing in the next four chapters. First she must be duly humbled by the man she loves to really feel the growth and make the changes.
When naughty Catherine is caught snooping about private rooms at Northanger by Henry she is distressed and embarrassed. She admonishes herself and thinks that the romance is now over, acknowledging that she forced horror into every situation, and tracing the source to reading Mrs. Radcliffe’s novels. This is a turning point for our heroine. She realizes her folly, and is determined only to act in the future with good sense and forgive herself. Wow, big moment here. How mature of her. She is only 17, but now can see that her childish choices did not serve her in the adult world of reality and she is ready to forgive herself and move on! I know a few 40 something adults that have yet to learn this lesson, so more power to her. Still dejected, Henry soon buoys her spirits by his attentions. What a gallant and noble guy! When a letter from James reveals his broken engagement with Isabella because he has discovered her duplicity with Captain Tilney, Catherine is distressed for her brother and wants Henry to reveal all to their father. When Eleanor and Henry are doubtful that their brother Frederick would be serious about Isabella because she has no fortune or connections, Catherine is unsure of their conclusion since their father is so liberal “he only valued money as it allowed him to promote the happiness of his children.” Moreover, when a visit to Henry’s home at Woodston is planned, she does not understand why Henry must leave in advance to for the visit that his father requested he make no extra effort for.
“I am come, young ladies, in a very moralizing strain, to observe that our pleasures in this world are always to be paid for, and that we often purchase them at a great disadvantage, giving ready-monied actual happiness for a draft on the future, that may not be honoured. Witness myself, at this present hour. Because I am to hope for the satisfaction of seeing you at Woodston on Wednesday, which bad weather, or twenty other causes, may prevent, I must go away directly, two days before I intended it.” Henry Tilney, Chapter 25
Henry knows that the pleasures of this life must be paid for, but Catherine expressly heard the General request that no extra effort be made. However, Henry and Eleanor knowing their father better, sense exactly what was expected. Catherine has not quite learned how to read people and does not understand when they say one thing and mean another. I can’t say I really blame her. Reading personalities is a skill that some people never fully succeed at, but those that do like Henry have a much easier life! The visit to the parsonage at Woodston is another example of her naivety. The General apologizes for the size of the village and the modesty of the parsonage, and Catherine only sees that “in her heart she preferred it to any place she had ever been at.” The General was testing her approval as a possible future home if she were to marry his son. She only sees a comfortable house and a room that needs proper fitting up. You would think that she would get his meaning when he mentions that the room has not been decorated, waiting for a ladies touch! Still not quite catching the between the lines meaning in conversation, later I do see a ray of hope for Catherine after she receives the long awaited letter from Isabella who is on a scouting expedition for support and help from Catherine to patch up her relationship with James. Isabella tells her that “it is very difficult to know whom to trust, and young men never know their minds two days together.” Surprisingly, Catherine does not buy into Isabella’s scheme to manipulate her into convincing her brother that she still loves him and wants him again.
Such a strain of shallow artifice could not impose even upon Catherine. Its inconsistencies, contradictions, and falsehood struck her from the very first. She was ashamed of Isabella, and ashamed of having ever loved her. Her professions of attachment were now as disgusting as her excuses were empty, and her demands impudent. “Write to James on her behalf! No, James should never hear Isabella’s name mentioned by her again.” The Narrator, Chapter 27
Bravo Catherine. You are starting to understand how it all works, (if such things are ever fully understood between people.) When she informs Henry of Isabella’s letter, she is concerned that their father should know of his son’s involvement, but wise Henry is a diplomat telling her that her “mind is warped by an innate principle of general integrity, and therefore not accessible to the cool reasonings of family partiality, or a desire of revenge.” Catherine believes the best of everyone. Henry knows from experience that that notion exposes oneself to misinterpretation. The final hard knock for our heroine comes from General Tilney, when after returning unannounced from a trip to London, he is vexed beyond reason, sending his daughter Eleanor to inform Miss Morland that she must depart the next morning without any warning.
From what it could arise, and where it would end, were considerations of equal perplexity and alarm. The manner in which it was done so grossly uncivil, hurrying her away without any reference to her own convenience, or allowing her even the appearance of choice as to the time or mode of her travelling; of two days, the earliest fixed on, and of that almost the earliest hour, as if resolved to have her gone before he was stirring in the morning, that he might not be obliged even to see her. What could all this mean but an intentional affront? The Narrator, Chapter 28
With little explanation she bids adieu to her friend. Her last though before she darts to the carriage in tears is of Henry, and she asks to be remembered to him in his absence. Dejected, she departs Northanger Abbey for home ending her visit in a flood of tears and anguish.
- Online text of Northanger Abbey complements of Molland’s Circulating-library
- Group reading schedule
- Read Northanger Abbey Summary: Chapters 22-28
- Read Northanger Abbey Quotes & Quips: Chapters 22-28
Go Gothic with Northanger Abbey: DAY 18 Giveaway
Broadview Literary Texts edition of Northanger Abbey (2004)
By Jane Austen introduction by Claire Grogan
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Day 19 – Oct 29 Gothic Inspirations
Day 20 – Oct 30 Group Read NA Chapters 29-31
Day 21 – Oct 31 Go Gothic Wrap-up
© 2008 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose