Northanger Abbey Chapters 29-31: Summary, Musings & Discussion: Day 20 Giveaway

On entering the room, the first object she beheld was a young man whom she had never seen before. With a look of much respect, he immediately rose, and being introduced to her by her conscious daughter as “Mr. Henry Tilney,” with the embarrassment of real sensibility began to apologize for his appearance there, acknowledging that after what had passed he had little right to expect a welcome at Fullerton, and stating his impatience to be assured of Miss Morland’s having reached her home in safety, as the cause of his intrusion. The Narrator, Chapter 30 

Quick Synopsis 

Catherine is too wretched to be fearful of her journey home. She thinks only of Henry as she passes along the road that once took her to Woodston where she spent the happiest day of her life. She is anxious of his return to Northanger to find her gone, and her parent’s reaction when she appears unannounced. They welcome her warmly and hear the story, perplexed as she is over the general’s actions. Catherine writes to Eleanor of her safe arrival and returns the advance. She calls on the Allen’s who agree that the general acted oddly. Her mother notices that Catherine is restless and unproductive and thinks she has “been spoilt for home by great acquaintance.” Henry Tilney arrives to apologize for his father and explain that Catherine “was guilty only of being less rich than he had supposed her to be.” He has had a great argument with his father who ordered him to never see Catherine again. He proposes to Catherine who accepts. Mr. and Mrs. Morland give their consent contingent on his father’s approval. Eleanor marries her beau who was previously unacceptable until an “unexpected accession to title and fortune had removed all his difficulties.” Now a viscountess, her father is in a fit of good humor. She asks her father to forgive Henry, he agrees after learning that the Morland’s are not poor and Catherine will have a 3,000 pound dowry. They marry, the bells rang and everyone smiled. The narrator leaves it to the reader to decide if unjust interference is rather conductive to the strength of an attachment.

Musings 

Catherine’s sudden and unexplained ejection from Northanger sends her home in a tearful and wretched state. She only thinks of Henry as she passes down the same road that once took her to Woodson where she spent the happiest day of her life. She is anxious of other’s reactions when Henry arrives at Northanger to find her sent away, and for her parent’s when she arrives unannounced. After eleven hours on the road, she arrives at Fullerton. Though a true Gothic heroine would arrive home a countess in a chaise in four, our heroine sadly arrived in solitude and disgrace. Her family warmly greets her and “she found herself soothed beyond anything that she had believed possible.” At length she explained to her family what had happened, and they can not understand the general’s actions, “what could have provoked him to such a breach of hospitality, and so suddenly turned all his partial regard for their daughter? How comforting to return home after such unrest to be embraced by your family. Her mother philosophizes over her loss and hopes that “the next new friends you make I hope will be better worth keeping.” Catherine, in a pensive state can only think of Henry and that he might quickly forget HER.

She could never forget Henry Tilney, or think of him with less tenderness than she did at that moment; but he might forget her; and in that case, to meet – ! Her eyes filled with tears as she pictured her acquaintance so renewed; and her mother, perceiving her comfortable suggestions to have had no good effect, proposed, as another expedient for restoring her spirits, that they should call on Mrs. Allen. The Narrator, Chapter 29

When Catherine is restless and unproductive, her mother does not suspect love but thinks she has become a fine lady and has “been spoilt for home by great acquaintance” from her experience in Bath and Northanger. I had a good laugh at this. How little life has changed in two hundred years. Parent’s are still clueless and misread their children. What a surprise when Henry arrives. Let’s hope that this clues Mrs. Morland into their relationship.

Catherine meanwhile – the anxious, agitated, happy, feverish Catherine – said not a word; but her glowing cheek and brightened eye made her mother trust that this good-natured visit would at least set her heart at ease for a time, and gladly therefore did she lay aside the first volume of The Mirror for a future hour. The Narrator, Chapter 30

Henry is of course his charming self, and Mrs. Morland notices the change in her daughter. When he expresses a desire to pay his respects to the Allen’s seeking Catherine’s assistance to find the way, Mrs. Morland begins to understand the motive in his visit and consents to their walk. Once they are alone and can talk more freely, the truth starts to come out. He wastes no time and declares his sincere affection for Catherine and her heart in return was solicited. Hurrah! What a relief. Henry tells her that when he returned to Northanger, his father told him of her departure and ordered him to think of her no more. “Such was the permission upon which he had now offered her his hand.” He reveals to her relief that she had done nothing to offend the general and that she “was guilty only of being less rich than he had supposed her to be.” Being mistaken by her fortune and connections he had courted her acquaintance in Bath and solicited her company at Northanger. John Thorpe had informed him in Bath of his acquaintance and hopes of marrying her himself. Thorpe then proceeded to pump up her fortune from her father and legacy from the Allen’s. The general never doubted his source. Henry and Eleanor were astounded that their father’s interest in her and his command for Henry to attach her affections. John Thorpe later revealed to the General that he “confessed himself to have been totally mistaken in his opinion of their circumstances and character.” The general is enraged with everybody but himself. Catherine heard enough to “feel that in suspecting General Tilney of either murdering or shutting up his wife, she had scarcely sinned against his character, or magnified his cruelty.” Henry’s indignation of how Catherine had been treated rallied his honor and affections.

He felt himself bound as much in honour as in affection to Miss Morland, and believing that heart to be his own which he had been directed to gain, no unworthy retraction of a tacit consent, no reversing decree of unjustifiable anger, could shake his fidelity, or influence the resolutions it prompted. The Narrator, Chapter 30

Swoon! If Catherine had been previously influenced by the drama and sentimentality of Gothic novels, his story and reactions must have sent her into ecstasy. She is now living the romance that she so craved, but as Henry had so wisely moralized to her previously, “our pleasures in this world are always to be paid for, and that we often purchase them at a great disadvantage.” Her happiness she will learn must be dearly paid for when her parent’s agree to the marriage contingent upon the approval of the general. What a road block. Henry is estranged from his father and it is not likely that he will apologize and make amends. They must wait for his change of heart which does not look promising considering his temperament. Only a miracle could soften his resolve.

The circumstance which chiefly availed was the marriage of his daughter with a man of fortune and consequence, which took place in the course of the summer – an accession of dignity that threw him into a fit of good humour, from which he did not recover till after Eleanor had obtained his forgiveness of Henry, and his permission for him “to be a fool if he liked it!” The Narrator, Chapter 31

Austen has added a great twist to the plot when all hope seemed against our happy couple when Eleanor marries her previously unacceptable beau, whose “unexpected accession to title and fortune had removed all his difficulties” placing the general in a fit of good humor! What luck! Her influence on her brother’s behalf is aided by her position as a viscountess, the fact that the Morland’s are neither necessitous or poor, and that Catherine’s dowry will be three thousand pounds. “Henry and Catherine were married, the bells rang, and everybody smiled“, all within a twelvemonth of their meeting, despite being plagued by dreadful delays and the general’s cruelty.

To begin perfect happiness at the respective ages of twenty-six and eighteen is to do pretty well; and professing myself moreover convinced that the general’s unjust interference, so far from being really injurious to their felicity, was perhaps rather conducive to it, by improving their knowledge of each other, and adding strength to their attachment, I leave it to be settled, by whomsoever it may concern, whether the tendency of this work be altogether to recommend parental tyranny, or reward filial disobedience. The Narrator, Chapter 31

And so the story concludes happily, but with the narrator interjecting a bit of irony at the very end. Henry and Catherine have the blessing of their families, and we are supplied with a gentle zinger. What an appropriate and satisfying conclusion.

THE END

Further reading

Read Northanger Abbey Summary: Chapters 29-31

Read Northanger Abbey Quotes & Quips: Chapters 29-31

 

Go Gothic with Northanger Abbey: DAY 20 Giveaway

Jane Austen: Seven Novels – Library of Essential Writers Series (2006) 

By Jane Austen and includes the complete and unabridged editions of : Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, and Lady Susan

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© 2008 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

9 thoughts on “Northanger Abbey Chapters 29-31: Summary, Musings & Discussion: Day 20 Giveaway

  1. You did such a great job with this! I looked forward to each day’s events :)

    My favorite thing about it? Now, I don’t feel so alone in loving this one :)

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  2. This has been so much fun! I’m so glad I managed to follow along. My only disappointment with the latter portion of the book was the lack of dialogue, especially between the young folks while at Northanger. I also wish Austen had actually given us the conversation between General Tilney and John Thorpe re: Catherine’s utter poverty. That would have been funny!

    Love the last line of the novel. It should be more well-known than it is! I love how playful Austen’s tone is throughout. I guess that comes from this being one of her earlier works.

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  3. I love the mention of her coming home to her family. It really is such a warm and comforting experience for her. Everyone should have a family like that. How wonderful.

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  4. Wonderful book. It is so funny and Henry Tilney is marvelous. Thank you so much Laurel Ann for organizing this group read. I loved following the daily posts and all the comments.

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