Northanger Abbey | Study Guide

Jane Austen

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Northanger Abbey | Chapter 24 | Summary

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Summary

The next day brings little information, although Catherine Morland does see a monument to Mrs. Tilney. She resolves to see the late Mrs. Tilney's rooms; as such, she presses Eleanor Tilney to show them to her. Eleanor agrees, but General Tilney interrupts. Catherine then resolves to explore on her own.

Come late afternoon, Catherine steals away to investigate—wanting to do so before Henry Tilney's return the next day. However, she is found by Henry, who has returned early. He questions her, and she haltingly confesses her theory about his father. Henry clarifies his mother was not murdered, that he and Captain Frederick Tilney were there, and rebukes her. In tears, Catherine flees.

Analysis

Catherine Morland's continued adventures as if this were a Gothic novel lead to her encounter with reality in the form of Henry Tilney. He does as he has done in numerous other places (for example, with her kind response to illusions and deceits by the Thorpes): he asks her questions and provides information so she can see the fallacy of her beliefs. In this, as well as in the chapters that follow, Henry functions as a voice of reason in the face of her misapprehensions of situation.

Here, as in the moment when Eleanor Tilney caught Catherine investigating the cabinet in her room and in the moments after the storm, Catherine is embarrassed by her foolishness. In each of the three instances, she also goes to the dining room for a meal.

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