Northanger Abbey | Study Guide

Jane Austen

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Northanger Abbey | Chapter 15 | Summary

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Summary

Catherine Morland receives a summons from Isabella Thorpe, and upon arrival, she is greeted by Isabella's revelations of love for James Morland—as well as intent to marry. During this chat, Isabella freely refers to James's finances and being well-off. Catherine listens and is joyous that her friend and brother are in love and happy. James stops in to say goodbye to Isabella. He departs to gain consent to wed her. Catherine and Isabella are closer again, much as they were when they first met.

A letter comes stating that James has permission to wed Isabella, and afterward Catherine has a conversation with John Thorpe in which he hints heavily about his affection toward her and marriage. Catherine does not understand his intentions.

Analysis

Catherine Morland's continued naïveté is obvious both when she doesn't perceive that Isabella Thorpe thinks James is well-off and when she misses John Thorpe's hints toward marriage. In these exchanges she may be fulfilling the role of an innocent heroine—assigned both by the narrator and by the conventions of a Gothic novel. It is also possible she is simply uninterested in his attentions and chooses not to respond. Because Catherine is not interested in John, there is no reason for her to acknowledge her awareness of his interest, despite his paying her constant attention and making overt statements.

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