The visions of romance were over. Catherine was completely awakened.
What a great opening.
We find that Catherine hates herself. She has ruined everything forever. Nothing was to be done. All was finished.
One would expect that this would go on for days and poison the rest of her life. In fact, it last about ½ hour, and within a few more hours, Henry, by his kindness, has made everything better. I love Henry.
And I love that Catherine is able to let this go and be happy. Her mind made up on these several points, and her resolution formed, of always judging and acting in future with the greatest good sense, she had nothing to do but to forgive herself and be happier than ever; and the lenient hand of time did much for her by insensible gradations in the course of another day.
She is so healthy! I so want to be more like Catherine.
The letter from James is so sad to Catherine. It pains her to see her brother so upset, but she has also lost a friend. She begins to doubt all that has come before.
Yet, even while unhappy with Fred Tilney, Catherine recognizes that nobody is wholly good or wholly bad. This is another Austen theme, that no one is 100% pure or 100% evil, except for Donald Trump. She was so prescient.
I love that Catherine can’t completely renounce Isabella. Surely, if she marries Fred, she will be constant. Henry’s response is of course, priceless:
“But perhaps,” observed Catherine, “though she has behaved so ill by our family, she may behave better by yours. Now she has really got the man she likes, she may be constant.”
“Indeed I am afraid she will,” replied Henry; “I am afraid she will be very constant, unless a baronet should come in her way; that is Frederick’s only chance. I will get the Bath paper, and look over the arrivals.”
From this time, the subject was frequently canvassed by the three young people; and Catherine found, with some surprise, that her two young friends were perfectly agreed in considering Isabella’s want of consequence and fortune as likely to throw great difficulties in the way of her marrying their brother. Their persuasion that the general would, upon this ground alone, independent of the objection that might be raised against her character, oppose the connection, turned her feelings moreover with some alarm towards herself. She was as insignificant, and perhaps as portionless, as Isabella; and if the heir of the Tilney property had not grandeur and wealth enough in himself, at what point of interest were the demands of his younger brother to rest?
I once again bow to Austen. I’d forgotten this, that she does such a great job foiling Catherine and Isabella here. If Isabella’s fortune is so small the General will not approve, then Catherine won’t be approved either. Tension as Catherine remembers all the times that the General has mentioned money. But surely…
Catherine wants Henry to warn the General of this engagement and the part that Fred played in ruining James’ chances. Catherine is worried about all the duplicity. But I like that Henry will not bring tales to the General, and that he believes his brother must tell his story. Catherine, of course, is right to believe that Fred will lie; and Henry is right to suggest, that doesn’t matter. Bascially the whole family has Fred’s number. Even telling a piece of the story will suffice. Austen knows her characters so well.
The whole situation with the General telling Henry to go while not to go is terrific. The General, while a bully, is also passive-aggressive at the same time. So frustrating. I love this response from a confused Catherine:
He went; and, it being at any time a much simpler operation to Catherine to doubt her own judgment than Henry’s, she was very soon obliged to give him credit for being right, however disagreeable to her his going. But the inexplicability of the general’s conduct dwelt much on her thoughts. That he was very particular in his eating, she had, by her own unassisted observation, already discovered; but why he should say one thing so positively, and mean another all the while, was most unaccountable! How were people, at that rate, to be understood? Who but Henry could have been aware of what his father was at?
It is all very Alice in Wonderland to me. I also find people like this quite disconcerting. Illogic bugs me too.
One final deeply important comment upon Henry. His friends are a Newfoundland dog and several Terrier puppies. Please do not mention hunting, for I have head cannoned that he gives hunting up and takes it up no more. In my annotated text, I learned that Newfoundlands are, not surprisingly, from Canada, and they were new at the time of the novel.
Interesting additional fact from my edition, is that attached to parishes were glebe lands. These were for farming purposes and the minister could do whatever he wanted with the lands. Some ministers, like Catherine’s father, turned their hand at making orchards, building greenhouses, and planting crops and gardens. Any monies that came from these belonged to the minister. For many ministers, this was their chief source of income, and such seems to be the case with Catherine’s father.
Is Isabella really so stupid, or so unselfaware? Or does she think Catherine is, or all three?
Catherine has been so badly used, and for Isabella to continue to push is audacious!
Second serious question:
Catherine finally, truly sees Isabella. She still is struggling to assess others. This exchange with Henry over Fred Tilney’s responsibility is really interesting to me, and I don’t understand completely Henry’s response. I do get the explanation that follows it, but this initial statement is almost Greek to me. Someone help me!
“There is but one thing that I cannot understand. I see that she has had designs on Captain Tilney, which have not succeeded; but I do not understand what Captain Tilney has been about all this time. Why should he pay her such attentions as to make her quarrel with my brother, and then fly off himself?”
“I have very little to say for Frederick’s motives, such as I believe them to have been. He has his vanities as well as Miss Thorpe, and the chief difference is, that, having a stronger head, they have not yet injured himself. If the effect of his behaviour does not justify him with you, we had better not seek after the cause.”
Finally, Catherine shows how far she has come when she says “there is not great harm done [in Fred ending the relationship] because I do not think Isabella has any heart to lose.”
Wow. All of this in less than a month (I think). It’s a lot.