We continue to learn about Isabella’s character, and about Catherine’s.
Catherine finally gets to set up the appointment for the walk with the Tilneys, and she is met with entreaties and supplications and then disdain. I love Catherine’s thinking process, that she doesn’t want to disappoint, so she attempts a compromise. That doesn’t work, and while some people might be convinced to do what the majority want, especially people she wishes to continue to like her, she realizes that they are selfish; she understands that they could easily change the day of the walk but just don’t want to. Good job, Catherine!
When John returns from making Catherine’s excuses, my very first thought was “I hate these people!” Anyone else feel that way? Catherine is ill-used by them, and as a reader/observer, I am so upset seeing this. Even her brother James is treating her so terribly. And it dawned on me after I wrote this, they literally are using Catherine for their own ends. Her happiness and needs do not count.
And then I pictured the Tilneys. If you were Eleanor, wouldn’t you be thinking WTF? Things keep being settled and then turned upside down.
“If I couldn’t be persuaded into doing what I thought wrong, I never be tricked into it,” is Catherine’s comment. I think she is wonderful. And she is standing against three very strong-willed people who believe their own happiness is sacrosanct. I believe this is the sort of thing that makes Catherine a heroine.
I am curious: was anyone else surprised or even a bit impressed with Mr. Allen’s response? I really appreciated his comments and attitude and it became clear to me why Catherine’s parents trusted him with their daughter.
Finally, the walk with the Tilneys occurs.
First, I love that Henry reads novels, and in fact, that he loves them.
Second, I love the banter between Henry and his sister. Well done!
Third, Catherine on history. I loved history as a kid and young adult, so of course, I find her wrong. ;-( but I do find her very funny…and Henry even funnier:
“That little boys and girls should be tormented,” said Henry, “is what no one at all acquainted with human nature in a civilized state can deny…” In fact, I think I am Henry.
I was relieved at the end of the chapter that when the walk is over and Catherine is walking home only then did she think of Isabella and James. I love she’d had no thought of them during her time with the Tilneys. I begin to feel that maybe maybe she is finally done with the Thorpes.
I laughed outloud multiple times in this chapter.
When Isabella is explaining how she had fallen in love with James who is incredibly handsome, we are told that :
Here Catherine secretly acknowledged the power of love; for, though exceedingly fond of her brother, and partial to all his endowments, she had never in her life thought him handsome.
Another great capture of sibling relationships.
Of course, the most important part of this chapter, and really the novel, is the engagement between Isabella and James, an event we have waited for with such eagerness, for Isabella is so in
Pardon my enthusiasm, for I know how great her love is. Why, even if she were in command of millions, or James was, or whatever, she would love him if they were both impoverished. Why, she would live in Richmond in a cottage… (come to find out that Richmond was a very wealthy “suburb” at the time. Sometimes Isabella is a bit loose with her truth).
Of course, one happy wedding should lead to another, always, always in comedies, and fortunately, we see John knows when he has a good thing, and suggests shyly and sweetly that courtship between he and Catherine should also proceed.
I love this exchange:
“Shall not you be late at Devizes?” said Catherine. He made no answer; but after a minute’s silence burst out with, “A famous good thing this marrying scheme, upon my soul! A clever fancy of Morland’s and Belle’s. What do you think of it, Miss Morland? I say it is no bad notion.”
“I am sure I think it a very good one.”
“Do you? That’s honest, by heavens! I am glad you are no enemy to matrimony, however. Did you ever hear the old song ‘Going to One Wedding Brings on Another?’ I say, you will come to Belle’s wedding, I hope.”
“Yes; I have promised your sister to be with her, if possible.”
“And then you know”—twisting himself about and forcing a foolish laugh—“I say, then you know, we may try the truth of this same old song.”
“May we? But I never sing. Well, I wish you a good journey. I dine with Miss Tilney today, and must now be going home.”
OMG! Did anyone else wonder if this was Catherine famously not understanding what was being said to her? Or was she actually deliberately making fun of him? This comment, “May we, but I never sing” is what I desperately hope I would have responded. I love it so much.
“Nay, but there is no such confounded hurry. Who knows when we may be together again? Not but that I shall be down again by the end of a fortnight, and a devilish long fortnight it will appear to me.”
“Then why do you stay away so long?” replied Catherine—finding that he waited for an answer.
“That is kind of you, however—kind and good-natured. I shall not forget it in a hurry. But you have more good nature and all that, than anybody living, I believe. A monstrous deal of good nature, and it is not only good nature, but you have so much, so much of everything; and then you have such—upon my soul, I do not know anybody like you.”
“Oh! dear, there are a great many people like me, I dare say, only a great deal better. Good morning to you.”
The way they are talking past each completely, neither understanding the other’s meaning, is wonderful to behold. Austen is a master.
So are you eager to hear more of the Isabella and James potential nuptials? Are you eager for the return of John? What do you make of the Tilneys, the brother, the sister?
We have finished volume one at this point. What do you think?