Northanger Abbey Summary: Chapters 29-31

Chapter 29 

Catherine was too wretched to be fearful on her journey home which takes her along the same road that lead her to Woodston ten days earlier, making her think of Henry. She had spent the happiest day of her life there, leaving with the positive conviction that the general wished their marriage. She did not know what she had done to merit such a change. She fears that he may know of her thoughts of him being a murdered, but doubts that Henry would reveal the confidence. Her greatest anxiety is over Henry’s return to Northanger to find her gone. What will she say to her parents 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?” Catherine mother is philosophical and is glad she knew nothing of the journey since Cather was “such a sad little scatter-brained creature.”  Her parents think her pensive mood is from her mortified feeling and fatigue and not some deeper evil. Catherine composes a letter to Eleanor and encloses her advance, hoping that what she wrote will mend and please. Mrs. Morland regrets her falling out with her friends and also Isabella for James, hoping that “the next new friends you make I hope will be better worth keeping.”  Even though her mother tries to console her with a hope of meeting them again in a few years, she can not forget Henry, though he may forget her. She is saddened by James’s loss in the broken engagement to Isabella, but he may be wiser in his next choice. As she walks to Mrs. Allen’s she reflects on how much she has changed in three months since she last walk the path. The story of General Tilney’s abrupt behavior is told to the Allen’s who sympathize and can not understand how such a well bred man could act so. Catherine can only imagine that at this moment Henry might be returning to Northanger, discovered her missing, and is on his way to Hereford with his family.

Chapter 30

Catherine’s mother notices that she has become restless and unproductive, unable to sit for more than a bit and in turn walking about the garden. She reminds her that she has had her amusements at Bath, but should settle back into her life thinking she has “been spoilt for home by great acquaintance.” She leaves to seek an instructive book for Catherine and returns to find a young man in her parlor, Mr. Tilney. Henry is all apology and concern for Catherine’s safe return home. She says little, but her cheeks glow and her eyes sparkle, and Mrs. Morland notices the change in her daughter. Henry inquires about the Allen’s and wishes to call on them asking Catherine to show the way. Mrs. Morland consents to his request thinking that Henry may have more to tell Catherine personally. He does, and declares his sincere affection for Catherine; her heart in return was solicited. Henry tells her that when he returned to Northanger, his father told him of her departure and ordered 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 her 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 affection. Believing that her heart was his own, no anger or reversing decree could shake his fidelity. He declared his intension to offer his hand, and they parted in a dreadful disagreement.

Chapter 31

Mr. and Mrs. Morland are surprised by Henry’s request for Catherine’s hand as no attachment had been suspected. His pleasing manners and common good-sense were enough to recommend him. There was but one obstacle. The general must also offer his consent. The Morland’s were not worried about money, since he had a considerable fortune upon his marriage. “It was a match beyond the claims of their daughter.” The couple was resolved to wait and hope that the general would change his mind. Henry returned to Woodston to work on the property for their benefit, and Catherine remained at Fullerton to cry. But what could possibly change the general’s mind? Only the marriage of his daughter to a viscount, a man of she had long know, but was unqualified until his “unexpected accession to title and fortune had removed all his difficulties.” Never was the general more pleased to call his daughter her Ladyship, putting the general in a fit of good humor. The influence of the viscount and viscountess on their brother’s behalf, the understanding that the Morland’s were not necessitous or poor, and that Catherine’s dowry would be three thousand pounds, all contributed to his change of heart and consent. “Henry and Catherine were married, the bells rang, and everybody smiled“, all within a twelvemonth of their meeting, plagued by dreadful delays and the general’s cruelty. The Narrator leaves it to be settled by whomsoever is concerned that unjust interference is rather conductive to the strength of an attachment.

© 2008 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

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