‘By the Seaside with Sanditon’ begins next Monday, March 15th

 

Put on your best seabathing costume Janeites

the Sanditon event starts next Monday 

 

Our next Austen novel-athon ‘By the Seaside with Sanditon’ begins here at Austenprose next Monday, March 15th, 2010.  Here is the schedule for the event: 

Day 1 – Monday March 15th:  Introduction to Sanditon and character list

Day 2 – Tuesday March 16th: Discussion of Sanditon chapters 1-4

Review of The Watsons and Sandition, by Jane Austen (Naxos AudioBooks)

Day 3 – Wednesday March 17th: Guest blog on Regency-era seaside resorts by Julie of AustenOnly

Day 4 – Thursday March 18th: Discussion of Sanditon chapters 5-8

On the Trail of Sanditon: The History of the Manuscript

Day 5 – Friday March 19th: Guest blog by Mandy N. on Regency-era seaside fashions

Day 6 – Saturday March 20th: Discussion of Sanditon chapters 9-12

Review of Sanditon, by Jane Austen (Hesperus Press)

Day 7 – Sunday March 21st: Sanditon continuation resources

Day 8 – Monday March 22nd: Event wrap-up

Saturday March 27th – Event giveaway announcements 

For all those participating in the group read (and I hope it will be well attended) discussion on chapters 1-4 begins Tuesday.  Reading resources are listed here.

Don’t miss out on all the great reading, discussion

and fun giveaways starting March 15th 

 Leeches at three. Bring your green parasol! 

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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

Leave a comment by October 30th to qualify for the free drawing on October 31st for one copy of the Jane Austen Seven Novels (2006)

(US residents only)

Upcoming event posts 

Day 21 – Oct 31          Go Gothic Wrap-up

 

© 2008 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Northanger Abbey Chapters 11-14: Summary, Musings & Discussion

At half past twelve, when Catherine’s anxious attention to the weather was over and she could no longer claim any merit from its amendment, the sky began voluntarily to clear. A gleam of sunshine took her quite by surprise; she looked round; the clouds were parting, and she instantly returned to the window to watch over and encourage the happy appearance. Ten minutes more made it certain that a bright afternoon would succeed, and justified the opinion of Mrs. Allen, who had “always thought it would clear up.” The Narrator, Chapter 11 

Quick Synopsis 

Catherine anticipates her walk with the Tilney’s but is concerned because of the rainy weather. John and Isabella Thorpe and her brother James arrive and insist that she ride out with them to Blaize Castle in their carriages. She declines because of the Tilney’s invitation, but Thorpe assures her they are not coming for her and she departs only to discover that he has lied as she passes them on the street. He will not stop. The scheme to travel to the Castle is too ambitious and they turn back after an hour. Catherine is miffed all around. The next morning she goes to the Tilney residence to apologize and is turned away. That night at the theatre she meets Mr. Tilney and apologizes. He assures her that they will walk another day. She notices John Thorpe talking to General Tilney. The evening ends well. The next day, Isabella, James and John insist that Catherine ride out with them to Blaize Castle again. She firmly declines because of her engagement with the Tilney’s. They insist and badger her. Thorpe goes to Miss Tilney claiming that Catherine has sent him to change the date. She agrees and Thorpe informs the party of his success. Catherine is horrified and wants to tell Eleanor it is not true. They try to restrain her, but she struggles and is let free to go to the Tilney’s and explain. She is introduced to General Tilney. The next morning the weather is fair, and Catherine walks with the Tilney’s as planned. They discuss books, history, politics and Henry instructs Catherine on the Picturesque and teases them on what nature has given to women.

Musings 

Temptation and judgment are key factors in the next four chapters. We see our heroine Catherine tested on many fronts in social situations, and called upon to evaluate and decided for herself which are the best decisions for her happiness. The first test comes with her friends Isabella and John Thorpe, and her brother James when she is pressured to put aside her commitment to walk with the Tilney’s at the prospect of seeing an ancient castle like the ones she has read about in the Gothic novels that she admires so much. “I should like to see the castle; but may we go all over it? May we go up every staircase, and into every suite of rooms?”  The temptation to see such a fanciful place outweighs her concern of offending the Tilney’s and she is persuaded to go on the drive, only to discover that she has been lied to by John Thorpe regarding his seeing Henry Tilney with another young lady before he arrived. When she passes the Tilney’s on the street she understands the deception, and she begs Thorpe to stop.

“Pray, pray stop, Mr. Thorpe. I cannot go on. I will not go on. I must go back to Miss Tilney.” But Mr. Thorpe only laughed, smacked his whip, encouraged his horse, made odd noises, and drove on; and Catherine, angry and vexed as she was, having no power of getting away, was obliged to give up the point and submit. Catherine Morland, Chapter 11

It is a painful and frustrating lesson to learn, but she understands the consequences of slighting the Tilney’s whose friendship she values opposed to the immediate pleasure of an excursion in the country with friends whose judgment and methods she doubts. When the drive is cut short after an hour because of the eventual reality that they can not make it to the Castle in the time they have, she sees that putting herself under the power of such people is foolish and regrets her actions.

The second test comes when she immediately needs to find Miss Tilney and explain why she did not keep their date to walk. When she arrives at her door, the footman tells her that Miss Tilney is not at home and she departs dejected, only to look back and see her leaving her home with her father. Catherine feels slighted and ashamed. Later that evening she finally meets Henry Tilney at the theatre, aplogizes and learns that it was their father’s doing,  he did not want to be delayed in his walk. But another lesson had been learned. Do not over react in the heat of the moment. Things are not always what they seem and every consideration should be given to cool judgment. The evening ends most agreeably after her chat with Mr. Tilney, his confirmation of another walk, and a complement by his father, General Tilney.

That General Tilney, instead of disliking, should admire her, was very delightful; and she joyfully thought that there was not one of the family whom she need now fear to meet. The evening had done more, much more, for her than could have been expected. The Narrator, Chapter 12

Austen seems to follow good news with bad quite swiftly, as our heroine in high spirits after meeting with Miss Tilney the next day and confirming their walk, is assaulted by her friends for accepting the invitation which interferes with their desire for Catherine to drive out with them to Blaize Castle, again. Even though she firmly declines their invitation determined not to allow their plans to spoil another engagement with the Tilney’s, they will not accept her decision and press her to change the date. I am amazed at the length that they go to pressure her as Isabella shames her and cries, her brother James calls her quite unkind and selfish and John Thorpe approaches Miss Tilney under the guise of Catherine’s authority requesting a change of date. Catherine is horrified at their behavior, firm in her resolve and I applaud her new found confidence.

She had not been withstanding them on selfish principles alone, she had not consulted merely her own gratification; that might have been ensured in some degree by the excursion itself, by seeing Blaize Castle; no, she had attended to what was due to others, and to her own character in their opinion. Her conviction of being right, however, was not enough to restore her composure; till she had spoken to Miss Tilney she could not be at ease; The Narrator, Chapter 13 

Score one for Miss Morland. A difficult situation that she handled to our relief and her satisfaction. Peer pressure can be the worst form of friendship, if one can call such action friendship. She has made a good decision for herself and her walk to Beechen Cliff with the Tilney’s proves a much more worthy excursion as she sees, experiences, and learns so much more than with the society of the Thorpe’s. After being taken down so low by the Thorpe’s ill manners, walking with Eleanor and Henry Tilney is the height of perfection in good views of countryside, witty banter, and educated conversation. There are so many excellent dialogue passages in this chapter that one is hard pressed to narrow them down. We begin to see Henry and Eleanor’s sibling relationship more closely as he teases her and she him, playing off each other to amuse Catherine and themselves. By the end of the chapter he has undoubtedly the charming, clever and witty man that we and Catherine had suspected. He loves Gothic fiction, though Catherine is concerned to discuss it with a man, his Oxford education has not ruined his sense of the sublime in nature which he shares with Catherine in his description of the picturesque countryside, he talks eloquently of history, politics and art with ease, and knows when to complement and please.

“Miss Morland, I think very highly of the understanding of all the women in the world – especially of those – whoever they may be – with whom I happen to be in company.” 

“That is not enough. Be more serious.” 

“Miss Morland, no one can think more highly of the understanding of women than I do. In my opinion, nature has given them so much that they never find it necessary to use more than half.” Henry and Eleanor Tilney, Chapter 14

And that gentle readers is quite a man.

  • Online text of Northanger Abbey complements of Molland’s Circulating-library
  • Group reading schedule
  • Summary of Northanger Abbey chapter 8-14
  • Quotes and quips from Northanger Abbey chapters 8-14

Go Gothic with Northanger Abbey: DAY 8 Giveaway

Jane Austen in Bath: Walking Tours of the Writer’s City (2006)

By Katharine Reeve

Leave a comment by October 30th to qualify for the free drawing on October 31st for one copy of Jane Austen in Bath: Walking Tours of the Writer’s City, by Katharine Reeve (US residents only)

Upcoming event posts
Day 09 – Oct 15           Guest Blog – Kali Pappas
Day 10 – Oct 16           Group Read NA Chapters 15-17
Day 11 – Oct 19          Book Review – NA Naxos Audio
Day 12 – Oct 20          Guest Blog – Valancourt Books

© 2008 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Mansfield Park Chapters 9-16: Summation, Musings & Discussion: Day 5 Give-away!

THE NOVEL

“You need not hurry when the object is only to prevent my saying a bon mot, for there is not the least wit in my nature. I am a very matter-of-fact, plain-spoken being, and may blunder on the borders of a repartee for half an hour together without striking it out.” Mary Crawford, Chapter 9 

Quick Synopsis

The party arrives at Mr. Rushworth’s estate of Sotherton Court to tour the grounds. Mary continues to deride Edmund on his choice of profession proclaiming that clergymen are nothing. Fanny is tired and deposited on a bench outside a locked garden gate where she observes the coming and going of different couples and individuals all in pursuit of one another. Back at Mansfield, Sir Thomas will return from Antigua in November which will set Maria’s wedding date. Mary continues to criticize the clergy not weakening Edmund’s infatuation of her. Tom returns from Antigua determined to stage a theatrical at Mansfield. Edmund is against it and will not act. Which play shall they do? It will be Lovers’ Vows. Bickering over the casting divides Julia and Maria. Fanny pressured and shamed into acting, strongly declines to participate in something that Sir Thomas would not approve. Edmund motivated by the possibility of someone outside of the family group being recruited to act opposite Mary caves, and will act after all. Fanny is surprised and shocked at his reversal. 

Musings 

Now that we have been introduced to the main cast of characters, the stage was been set to Jane Austen’s preference of “three or four families in a country village” with the Bertram clan, the Crawford siblings and the lone wolf Fanny Price holding the flag of decorum and virtue among so much vice, the real fun begins. The scenes at Sotherton Court offer an opportunity for Mary Crawford to express some very strong opinions against religion and the clergy. When she discovers that Edmund will take orders, she feigns contrition for speaking so strongly without knowledge, (for about a moment), and then picks up her protest again. 

“Do you think the church itself never chosen, then?” 

“Never is a black word. But yes, in the never of conversation, which means not very often, I do think it. For what is to be done in the church? Men love to distinguish themselves, and in either of the other lines distinction may be gained, but not in the church. A clergyman is nothing.” Edmund Bertram & Mary Crawford, Chapter 9 

Austen is really using Mary Crawford as a foil against social decorum and religious stricture. Her sideways, and sometimes direct attacks against the church and people who worship are strongly against tradition, even today, so they must have been quite provocative in 1814. So far, if you follow Fanny’s reactions to her, you can see the trail of clues that Austen is leaving. Edmund is becoming more ‘blinded by love’ as the story progresses. 

The locked gate scene at Sotherton parkland is one of my favorites of the first volume of the novel. After Fanny is deposited on a bench near a locked iron gate, she is witness to the coming and going of couples and individuals all seeking others, only to miss them and be disappointed. Austen is using all of her comedic genius to play off the flirtations and romances developing. Fanny is again shown as the solid point of reference as all the others interact foolishly. It will be interesting to look back on this scene at the conclusion of the novel and see if there is any foreshadowing afoot. 

When Tom Bertram returns from Antigua ahead of his father for the hunting season, I am immediately on alert. This is trouble. When he proposes that his siblings and the Crawford’s produce a theatrical for their personal amusement, the plot opens up to all sorts of possibilities of conflicts between decorum and egos. What transpires is almost a mini Shakespearean play within the novel, of characters acting in a play that mirrors their own behavior; – pitting siblings against each other, erupting an array of emotions resulting in jealousy, fear and anger. Their quarreling over selection of the play and the casting of the roles is tiresome, and seems to go on too long, but that is Austen’s point. She pushes her characters and the reader to the point of exhaustion.  

“Family squabbling is the greatest evil of all, and we had better do anything than be altogether by the ears.” Edmund Bertram, Chapter 13 

Setting up the characters in an adversarial position reveals much of their true nature. As in life, when characters are placed under pressure, we see what they are really made of. Edmund, in his father’s absence first opposes the play based on decorum. Should ladies act? What will people think? Tom, being the ungovernable son that he is, sees no harm. He is all about instant gratification. His two sisters are all for it because they can play out their competition for Henry Crawford’s affection. Mary Crawford is pulled into the scheme showing no personal concern as a lady. She always does what she chooses and is an advocate for letting others do the same. As Lady Bertram doses on the sofa ambivalent to her children’s antics, Aunt Norris who is usually the kill-joy of all pleasure and expense surprisingly does not oppose her nephew either. Fanny sits by, quietly watching in shock until pressed into service to act. She declines, standing with Edmund against the plan, even after a shameful railing by her Aunt Norris that sends her into anxiety and self doubt. 

“What a piece of work here is about nothing: I am quite ashamed of you, Fanny, to make such a difficulty of obliging your cousins in a trifle of this sort-so kind as they are to you! Take the part with a good grace, and let us hear no more of the matter, I entreat.” Mrs. Norris, Chapter 15 

The biggest shock for me (and also Fanny) was Edmund’s reversal for weak reasons. After vehemently opposing the play, he acquiesces based on his concern for Mary Crawford! Oh how gallantly he goes out on his unprincipled limb to save her the discomfort of acting with a stranger outside the family circle. (I smell a besotted sod here) He rationalizes all this to the only person who is on his side, Fanny, who is shocked and puzzled, and then begins to doubt her own decision since her mentor Edmund has changed his colors. After deep reflection, I think she has the better handle on all the nonsense. 

Things should take their course; she cared not how it ended. Her cousins might attack, but could hardly tease her. She was beyond their reach; and if at last obliged to yield-no matter-it was all misery now. The Narrator, Chapter 16 

Further reading 

Online text complements of Molland’s Circulating Library
Cast of characters
Chapter 9-16 summary
Chapter 9-16 quotes and quips
 

Mansfield Park Madness: Day 5 Give-away

Leave a comment by August 30th. to qualify for the free drawing on August 31st. 

Jane Austen Journal

By Potter Style. Paperback lined journal with the image of Regency lady and quote “We have a better guide in ourselves, if we would attend to it, than any other person can be” from Mansfield Park. 160 pages, ISBN 978-0307352392 

Upcoming posts
Day 6 – Aug 20            Metropolitan movie discussion
Day 7 – Aug 21            MP novel discussion chapters 17-24
Day 8 – Aug 22            MP great quotes and quips
Day 9 – Aug 23            MP novel discussion chapters 25-32