Northanger Abbey | Study Guide

Jane Austen

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Northanger Abbey | Chapter 25 | Summary

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Summary

Catherine Morland is embarrassed by her theories of General Tilney. She is further embarrassed that Henry Tilney knows, but she reports on time for dinner and is relieved to find Henry is still kind to her. She thinks about what led her to believe such an illogical thing, and she is glad the General does not know.

She continues to wonder that she has not heard from Isabella Thorpe, who had promised to write. Nine days after she arrived, she receives a letter, which Henry happily hands her. However, the letter is from James Morland, and it reveals that his engagement with Isabella has ended: she is now to wed Frederick Tilney.

Catherine is distraught for her brother. She cries through breakfast and continues to weep. When Eleanor and Henry speak to her to console her, they discover the reasons. The Tilney siblings engage in a very practical discussion, inquiring about Isabella's family and wealth. They conclude General Tilney would not allow such a match for his eldest son. Henry continues to talk to her, to ask her to examine her feelings, and ultimately, Catherine feels better for it.

Analysis

Catherine Morland's embarrassment lasts only briefly. Henry Tilney neither judges nor calls out her foolishness. The Gothic aspects that were played up in the last few chapters are discontinued as Catherine wonders why Isabella Thorpe has not written. While Catherine is undoubtedly pleased to be in Henry's company, it is noteworthy that her Gothic self-delusions were all-consuming when he was not with her. Now, too, she is addressing her thoughts toward Isabella and Bath. It is not unreasonable to infer that Catherine is suffering from some degree of boredom at the Tilney's house. After the nonstop activity of Bath, retreating to a country house would be less exciting. However, she is happier now that Henry is returned from his home, and her Gothic imaginings are stopped.

When her letter arrives with news of Bath from James Morland, Catherine's emotional outburst is again soothed by Henry. Much as he did when Catherine imagined the worst of General Tilney, Henry again asks her pointed questions to help her make sense of the news she has received. Catherine's inability to see the deceitful nature of Isabella's actions and words in Bath has shifted. This is due, in significant part, to Henry: he has been pointing details out to her, both in Bath and here.

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