Northanger Abbey Summary: Chapters 8-14

Chapter 8

Catherine and Mrs. Allen attend the Upper Rooms with her brother James, and Isabella and John Thorpe. John Thorpe goes to the card rooms. Isabella declares that she will not dance unless Catherine is engaged also, for she will not be separated from her, then 3 minutes later dance with James, leaving Catherine with Mrs. Thorpe, Mrs. Allen and all the other young ladies to be disgraced in the eye of the world not unlike a true heroine. Ten minutes later she recognizes Mr. Tilney across the room chatting with a young lady who might be his sister, but could be his wife. Catherine and Tilney meet and she learns that he has been away from Bath a week. Tilney asks her to dance, but she regretfully declines as Mr. Thorpe has returned to stand up with her. This is all mortifying. Catherine is introduced to Miss Tilney who is an elegant and pretty girl who does not seem to need to attract every man’s attention around her. Isabella reappears and chides Catherine for not for being way from her for so long when it was she who departed. Catherine informs Isabella that Miss Tilney and her brother are at the dance. Isabella has an impatient desire to see Mr. Tilney, but is distracted by her escort James. James wants to dance again with Isabella but she teases that it is improper to dance two in a row with the same partner.  Isabella dances with James anyway. Catherine hopes to dance with Mr. Tilney and returns to Mrs. Allen and Mrs. Thorpe to be told that he wants to dance with her and then see him leading another young lady to the dance floor much to her disappointment. The night continues without Mr. Tilney.

Chapter 9

Catherine’s dissatisfaction with the evening is soothed with a return to Pulteney Street, a hearty meal, and nine hours of sleep to awaken to fresh hope and new schemes to seek out her new friend Miss Tilney in the pump-rooms and plans to go there that day. A knock at the door reveals John Thorpe who has arrived to collect Catherine for there prearrange carriage ride to Claverton Down, which she is unaware had been confirmed. Her plans to seek out Miss Tilney are delayed and she departs with John Thorpe in his gig followed by Isabella and James in another. John Thorpe warns Catherine that his horse is spirited and may bolt, but she is relieved to experience quite the contrary. Thorpe open the conversation with “Old Allen is as rich as a Jew – is not he?” which Catherine does not quite understand his meaning. He continues on about Mr. Allen’s wealth, the fact that he has no children and that she is his goddaughter, which she denies. He asks if he drinks his bottle a day, because if everyone did, there would be half as much disorder in the world. Catherine mentions that there is a great deal of wine drunk at Oxford which he denies and gives examples to the contrary.  Thorpe then talks of his equipage, the spirit and motion of his horse and the spring of the carriage. Catherine admits her ignorance of such things and then agrees that “the most complete of its kind in England, his carriage the neatest, his horse the best goer, and himself the best coachman.” Catherine expresses concern for her brother James’ carriage and Thorpe distresses her by asking if she had ever seen such a little tittuppy thing in her life. The body has not a sound piece of iron, the wheels worn out and the body could be shaken to pieces with a touch. Alarmed, she asks him to stop and alert James. He discredits her concerns saying that they only get a little roll if it breaks down. Catherine does not know what to think of the two different accounts of the same things, as she had not been brought up to understand a rattle or idle assertions and impudent falsehoods and not in the habit of telling falsehoods to increase their importance. The rest of the conversation, or rather talk, began and ended with himself and his own concerns as he boasts of his horse trading, hunting, and riding skills beyond any other. Even though John has been recommended by her brother James and he was Isabella’s brother, she is wary of his bold talk, and weary of it after an hour. Mrs. Allen tells Catherine that she and Mrs. Hughes met Eleanor and Henry Tilney walking on the Crescent. Mrs. Hughes relayed that she had been a school fellow with Mrs. Tilney who is now deceased and that the family was quite wealthy. Catherine lamented her ill luck in missing this opportunity to meet the Tilneys again.

Chapter 10

The Allen’s, the Thorpe’s and the Morland’s attend the theatre. Isabella and Catherine sit together to discuss a thousand different things and search out the house for Mr. Tilney. Isabella would like to meet him. She tells Catherine that she and James Morland agree on everything and that if she had been there she would have made a droll remark about it which Catherine denies. The next day the Allen’s and Catherine go to the pump-room and meet up with the Thorpe’s and her brother James. She witnesses Isabella and James in sentimental conversation and dispute, which is contrary to Isabella’s claim that they agree on everything and doubted the happiness of the situation. Catherine sees Eleanor Tilney enter and she immediately approaches her to renew their acquaintance. Catherine quizzes her about her brother and the Miss Smith who he was dancing with. Isabella departs hoping to see her at the cotillion ball tomorrow night. Miss Tilney now understands Catherine’s interest in her brother, though Catherine is unaware that she revealed it. Catherine returns home quite happy and plans out what gown and headdress to wear to the cotillion. She enters the rooms the next evening in hopes of avoiding John Thorpe and attracting Mr. Tilney. The cotillion ended and the country dance beginning and still no Mr. Tilney. Anxious to avoid John Thorpe, happily Mr. Tilney appears and asks her to dance. She is saved for a moment, until John Thorpe claims that she had promised him the dance, which she denies since he had not asked. He inquires who she is dancing with and then asks if he wants to buy a horse. Mr. Tilney is annoyed by Thorpe’s interference and teases that dancing is not unlike a contract of marriage. “Fidelity and complaisance are the principal duties of both; and those men who do not choose to dance or marry themselves, have no business with the partners or wives of their neighbours.”  “Man has the advantage of choice and woman only the power of refusal.”  In marriage a man is to purvey and a woman to smile. In dancing it is the opposite. The man offers compliance and the woman supplies the fan and the lavender water. They discuss the charms of Bath over the country. Mr. Tilney points out his father General Tilney to her. Eleanor and Henry invite Catherine for a country walk tomorrow at noon. She departs “and her spirits danced within her, as she danced in her chair all the way home.

Chapter 11

The next morning looks to troubling weather as Catherine in anticipation of her walk with the Tilney’s watches the rain in hopes of it clearing by 1:00. At half past twelve the skies begin to clear and as she looks out the window she spies two carriages and the same three person’s that had called in her prior for a ride, the Thorpe’s and her brother James who want her to ride with them to Bristol. She tells them of her prior engagement, but they say that it does not signify. They will drive to Blaze castle if they can and Catherine is intrigued asking if it is old, like the ones you read of, and they concur that it is the oldest in England with towers and long galleries. Catherine continues to decline the invitation stating that she is walking with the Tilney’s. John Thorpe tells her that he saw Mr. Tilney driving with another young lady as they drove over to pick her up. Isabella tells her the mud is very deep for walking and she must change her mind. They press Mrs. Allen to convince her, and as soon as she consents, they are off. Catherine feels unsettled about departing without communication from the Tilney’s and slighted that they did not send notice. Her anxiety is overridden by the delight of exploring an edifice like Udolpho by seeing Blaze Castle. As they travel through Bath lost in the thought of Gothic buildings she sees the Tilney’s walking toward her house and begs John Thorpe to stop. He has lied to her to get her to ride with him. She continues to ask him to stop and he only laughs and lashes his horse on. She claims he deceived her and he states there were never two men who looked so much alike. She will not enjoy the drive now. One hour out James yells at Thorpe to pull over and tells him that they must turn back, that it is to late to attempt another 8 miles. He reluctantly agrees blaming their speed on James’ poky horse and says he is a fool for not owning his own rig. Catherine states that it is because he can not afford it, and John returns with “if people who rolled in money could not afford things, he did not know who could.” She does not understand his remark and the return to Bath is not met with more than 20 words. The footman tells Catherine that the Tilney’s called shortly after her departure. Mr. Allen says he is happy they have returned early because it was a wild scheme. Catherine spends the evening with the Thorpe’s but is out of spirits. Isabella claims to be happy no to attend the Upper Rooms that evening, but it quite the contrary. She tells Catherine not to be out of sorts and that it was the Tilney’s fault for not sending a note. She and john would have gladly walked in the mud, which is the opposite attitude that she presented when she convinced her not to walk with the Tilney’s and ride with them instead.

Chapter 12

The next morning with Mrs. Allen’s approval Catherine sets off to discover the residence of the Tilney’s so she can explain. She is told that Miss Tilney is not at home, but out walking by the footman whose delivery is not convincing. As she looks back she sees Eleanor departing from the door with her father. She knows now the degree of the offence. Humbled and dejected, she hesitates to attend the theatre that night, but her desire to see the play outweighs her mood, almost. The Tilney’s do not appear in attendance, but by the fifth she spies Henry in a box. He does not see her for two acts, and bows and looks away. Catherine is ashamed of her misconduct and eager for an opportunity to explain. The curtain fails and Henry appears in their box. Catherine apologizes breathlessly to Henry who softens. She reveals her anxiety over the event and her visit to his sister that morning when she was turned away. He explains that Miss Tilney wanted to apologize to her for that, owing that it was their father who insisted they depart for their walk. He stays and they talk of the play and Catherine is content. Before he parts, they confirm plans to walk as soon as possible and Catherine is one of the happiest creatures in the world. During her conversation with Henry she notices that John Thorpe is talking with General Tilney. Later she learns from Thorpe that the General thinks her the finest young lady in Bath. She is astounded. The evening has gone very well for her.

Chapter 13

It is decided by Isabella and James that the scheme to drive to Clifton must be reinstated and entreats Catherine to join them. She can not accept and will not be subdued by their appeals. She has just made plans with Eleanor Tilney to walk out with them tomorrow and will not change. They continue in their barrage, but she is determined and will not yield. Isabella tries to shame her into accepting, because her dearest Catherine would never deny a good friend. No change. Isabella then tries another tack, claiming that Catherine likes Eleanor better seeing herself slighted for strangers. Catherine thinks this reproach equally strange and unkind. Isabella dabs her eyes with her handkerchief and James calls Catherine quite unkind to refuse her. Isabella plays her last trump by telling Catherine if she does not go, then no one will, because she can not be the only lady in the party. Catherine suggests one of the Thorpe sisters, but John claims that he did not come to Bath to be humiliated in driving his sisters about and departs. James and Isabella continue their attack on Catherine, but she does not budge. John Thorpe returns to reveal that it has all been settled. He has spoken to Miss Tilney and told her that Catherine had sent him to change their date to Tuesday. Miss Tilney agrees, and Thorpe is quite pleased with himself as he describes the event to the group. Catherine is horrified and wants to go after Miss Tilney and immediately say that he had not authority to say such things. They restrain her from leaving and she repeatedly asks to be let go. She leaves directly in pursuit of the Tilney’s afraid of being followed and detained again. She arrives at their door just behind their own arrival and explains that she had never given permission to Thorpe to ask Miss Tilney to change the date, had never agreed to go with them and that it was all a mistake. The matter is agreeably settled and Catherine is introduced to General Tilney. They talk for a quarter of an hour and the General invites her to dine with them that evening, which she declines due to the Allen’s. He understands and offers another time and she departs for home in good spirits. She discusses the days events with Mr. Allen’s who thinks that young people riding about the countryside in open carriages not quite proper and thinks she made the right decision and Mrs. Allen agree claiming that open carriages are nasty things, a fresh gown does not have five minutes wear in them. Mr. Allen reminds Mrs. Allen that the point was if young ladies should ride in carriages, and she agrees they should not. This is a surprise to Catherine since Mrs. Allen gave her approval for the first ride. They all agree that it is best that Catherine not ride out with Thorpe again for what would the Tilney’s think of her if she were to breach propriety?

Chapter 14 

The next morning, with fair weather and the absence of the Thorpe party, Catherine departs with the Tilney’s to walk Beechen Cliff, a noble hill that overlooks Bath. She remarks that it reminds her of the France that Emily and her father travel through in Udolpho, but she qualifies her remark with the thought that Henry does not read novels, “gentlemen read better books.”  He proclaims “The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid” and has read all of Mrs. Radcliffe’s books, Udolpho in two days. Catherine is glad to hear this and will never be ashamed of liking it herself. He has read hundreds and hundreds of novels! He asks her to consider what a start he has on her since he was at Oxford when she was a good little girl. Eleanor chides Henry for teasing Miss Morland as he does his sister. They discuss books, and Catherine declares her dislike of history which tells her nothing that does not vex or weary her. Invention is what delights her in other books. Eleanor and Henry talk about the historian’s role in writing books. As they walk the countryside they discuss views that would make pictures, but Catherine knows very little of drawing and is ashamed of her ignorance. The Narrator sermonizes …”where people wish to attach, they should always be ignorant… and a woman especially, if she have the misfortune of knowing anything, should conceal it as well as she can.” Henry instructs Catherine on how to look at the landscape and by the time they gain the top of Beechen Cliff, she declares that Bath was not worthy of a landscape.  She changes the subject to politics and announces that she has heard that something shocking will come out of London. Eleanor ask how she came by this news and what it is a about. She heard it from a friend only yesterday and that it is uncommonly dreadful with murder and everything. Henry retorts that government neither desires nor cares to interfere with such matters, “There must be murder; and government cares not how much.”  Eleanor thinks that Catherine is speaking of a riot in London, but she denies it. Henry explains “My dear Eleanor, the riot is only in your own brain. The confusion there is scandalous. Miss Morland has been talking of nothing more dreadful than a new publication which is shortly to come out” Eleanor gently reproaches Henry for his odd ways and he explains himself to Catherine to clear his character handsomely. He thinks very highly of the character of women in the world and especially of those who are in his company. “In my opinion, nature has given them so much that they never find it necessary to use more than half.” It is no effort for Catherine to believe that Henry Tilney could ever be wrong. The walk concluded too soon and they return her to Mrs. Allen and invited them to dinner in two days. Later in the afternoon, Catherine seeks out some ribbon at Bond Street and happens upon Miss Ann Thorpe who reveals that the party had departed for Clifton as planned with Miss Maria Thorpe in her place. Catherine was relieved that her absence had not spoiled their excursion.

© 2008 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose