These chapters have me feeling all out of sorts.
First, such an odd/interesting way to begin Vol. 2. I realized later it made sense. Catherine was to visit the Tilneys, so that was a key event, and the second key event was awaiting the letter from James to find out what his father would do for him and Isabella monetarily.
The visit made Catherine unhappy, and as someone who cares about C I felt bad for her. She had so much hope pinned on this.
Meeting with Isabella made things slightly better in that Isabella so castrophized what happened that even Catherine began to realize it wasn’t quite as bad as she made out. And what a great line of Isabella’s “In all things in the world inconstancy is my aversion.” Truer words have never been spoken, I attest.
I love the turn that seeing the Tilneys again restored C’s good spirits, and after dancing and talking with him “and in finding him irresistible, becoming so herself” was lovely to me. Such a lovely way to show how she has been falling for him.
But this next passage is remarkable to me:
Henry smiled, and said, “How very little trouble it can give you to understand the motive of other people’s actions.”
“Why? What do you mean?”
“With you, it is not, How is such a one likely to be influenced, What is the inducement most likely to act upon such a person’s feelings, age, situation, and probable habits of life considered—but, How should I be influenced, What would be my inducement in acting so and so?”
“I do not understand you.”
“Then we are on very unequal terms, for I understand you perfectly well.”
“Me? Yes; I cannot speak well enough to be unintelligible.”
“Bravo! An excellent satire on modern language.”
“But pray tell me what you mean.”
“Shall I indeed? Do you really desire it? But you are not aware of the consequences; it will involve you in a very cruel embarrassment, and certainly bring on a disagreement between us.”
“No, no; it shall not do either; I am not afraid.”
“Well, then, I only meant that your attributing my brother’s wish of dancing with Miss Thorpe to good nature alone convinced me of your being superior in good nature yourself to all the rest of the world.”
He has such great respect for Catherine (always), and this passage shows how well he knows her. I also think he is concerned for her and sees the potential for great hurt since Catherine believes that people have the best of intentions.
This is powerful stuff.
The chapter could end here on this powerful note, but instead ends on further hurt to Catherine, hearing her father impugned as being cheap towards his son. I love the comment that Catherine didn’t know how much money her father had. The same was true as me. Finances weren’t discussed with the children in my family. Catherine knows her parents to be generous and kind, and to have Isabella imply (actually that’s being kind to Isabella) that he isn’t is mean. Even Mrs. Thorpe gets that her daughter is being unjust.
400 pounds in approximately 1800 would now be equal to about $40,000. That’s how much James would make as a minister. His father is going to add another $40,000 to that, so James would have $80,000 a year. This is not enough for Isabella, and Isabella sees this as Mr. Moreland being niggardly towards her. Mrs. Thorpe’s hope is that in time, Mr. Morland might be willing to give a little more. The amazing misunderstanding about how much Mr. Morland has and also that he has 9 other children to be concerned about is breathtaking to me.
One other note: did anyone else pick up on how Isabella, early on in the chapter, feels disdain for Henry and Eleanor but only praise for the General?
I love Cahterine’s sense of gratitude. When she is invited to Northanger Abbey, everything in her life is going well. She is grateful to her parents, and to the Allens, to Isabella, and to the Tilneys.
I love her sense of joy at being at a real abbey. Is she more happy about being with Henry Tilney or with being at a possibly haunted Abbey? I think it is a toss-up. After all, the chapter ends on her fantasizing about what she will discover. (I just had a thought that I feel like Northanger Abbey might in some ways be a precursor to Nancy Drew! I love that idea.)
Chapter 2 was such a lovely respite. Everything is going well, and then in Ch. 3, Catherine gets zinged multiple times.
Anyone elss surprised that Isabella’s favorite out of the way spot is actually pretty much at the center of things?
The letter from John is infuriating. Marriage was serious business. Becoming engaged was major and life-changing. His assertion that Catherine was in all agreement and in effect, egging him on is so aggravating. And to someone of Catherine’s honesty, and her clear dislike of his actions towards her…but then to have Isabella push John’s claims…
As Catherine protests fervently, quite upset, Isabella throws logs on the fire by a) suggesting that the possibility of engagement is foolish because what would they live on? After all, Catherine’s father would give them so little money, and b) maybe John overreacted but it was promoted by Catherine’s high spirits. After all, we as readers certainly know that Catherine and Isabella are like one, and that Catherine gives her feelings easily to all who ask. (Ugh)
“Oh! As to that,” answered Isabella laughingly, “I do not pretend to determine what your thoughts and designs in time past may have been. All that is best known to yourself. A little harmless flirtation or so will occur, and one is often drawn on to give more encouragement than one wishes to stand by. But you may be assured that I am the last person in the world to judge you severely. All those things should be allowed for in youth and high spirits. What one means one day, you know, one may not mean the next. Circumstances change, opinions alter.”
“But my opinion of your brother never did alter; it was always the same. You are describing what never happened.”
“My dearest Catherine,” continued the other without at all listening to her, “I would not for all the world be the means of hurrying you into an engagement before you knew what you were about. I do not think anything would justify me in wishing you to sacrifice all your happiness merely to oblige my brother, because he is my brother, and who perhaps after all, you know, might be just as happy without you, for people seldom know what they would be at, young men especially, they are so amazingly changeable and inconstant. What I say is, why should a brother’s happiness be dearer to me than a friend’s? You know I carry my notions of friendship pretty high. But, above all things, my dear Catherine, do not be in a hurry. Take my word for it, that if you are in too great a hurry, you will certainly live to repent it. Tilney says there is nothing people are so often deceived in as the state of their own affections, and I believe he is very right. Ah! Here he comes; never mind, he will not see us, I am sure.”
This is what Tilney was warning Catherine about, though she didn’t see it. She trusts people, yet in this whole long comment by Isabella, Isabella is projecting onto Catherine her own belief system. Isabella does not know Catherine at all. And that is for me the chief sin. Catherine has been a placeholder for Isabella this whole time, and a means to get her brother. Which, I think we can safely gather, may not be what Isabella wants anymore.
There is a lot of betrayal and inconstancy in these three chapters. Although I laughed a few times, and felt joy a few times, I came away mainly feeling terribly sad and angry on Catherine’s behalf.