Northanger Abbey Vol. 2 Chapters 13-15

Chapter 13

“A loss may sometimes be a gain,” is a great statement. How much joy and felicity in the loss of the General. Oy.

So much happiness, and then a carriage comes—it must be Fred. I was so curious to see what would happen. I enjoyed Catherine’s thoughts as she wondered how to talk to him and what might happen, and then, instead, there was the bizarre sound outside Catherine’s door.

I was confused by this as well. I thought, are we returning to the Gothic with a strange hand manipulating the lock?

No, what happened is much worse, in my opinion.

The General kicking her out of the house and sending her away without a servant.  This is really terrible. Women weren’t supposed to travel without a male companion because it was considered dangerous. Add to this her youth and never having done this before, and it was a trip in an open carriage for 11 hours. That’s a lot.

Eleanor’s statement, said in total regret and abasement, “my real power is nothing.” She is a woman of means, yet in complete control of her father. She can’t even help her friend and is devastated by this.

Thank God for Eleanor asking about the money. Catherine doesn’t have any. Catherine would have been responsible at each post of the journey to pay for the feeding of the horses and at some point the renting of new horses. What would have happened if she’d suddenly realized she had no money to pay? She would have been truly stuck. This is horrible what the General has done to her.

Ch. 14

I love that there was no problem on the journey.

I love that the family was eager to see her and immediately took her side, but also didn’t dwell on it. Mrs. Morland’s reasonableness is wonderful, though it is sad to me that Mrs. Morland doesn’t understand the extent of the emotional damage done to her daughter.

Catherine has been changed by this whole 11 week time away. Mrs. Morland refers to her as, while living with the family initially, as shatterbrained, which means giddy, and thoughtless (perhaps an adjective we could apply to Donald Trump though it sounds like a kind of sweet word, so maybe not). This is not the Catherine we have come to know. These 11 weeks have changed her amazingly.

I do really appreciate though Mrs. Morland’s pragmatic attitude. She is sad for James but also glad such a bad match didn’t come off. She is mad at the General for putting Catherine in such a bad position, as both a parent and a host, but she also thinks this was good for Catherine, a test of her character and wits.

I love Catherine’s defense of her friends, though her parents remarks are not unreasonable. Also, since the General disapproves of Catherine, Catherine and Eleanor are not allowed to remain friends. This is the nature of the disturbance around Henry—how will he react?

Ch. 15

Mrs. Moreland thinks reading a conduct article will help Catherine. Boo to this, not really understanding her daughter’s problem, but I did find it amusing. When she sees Henry in the living room with her daughter: “Gladly did she set aside The Mirror for a future time.” 😉  Seeing her daughter’s happy face, Mrs. Moreland begins to get it.

Henry is breaking all the rules. First, he visits Catherine. Second, he fights with his father. Third, he asks for Catherine’s hand (against his father’s wishes) and he does so without telling Catherine ahead of time that his father is against this. That is huge, for Catherine would have been under obligation to refuse. That’s a serious social proticol there.

I love that ask to see the Allens and the stupid sibling saying look see and pointing at the Allen house, as obnoxious and clueless siblings do. Mrs. Moreland, continuing to illustrate why I love her thinks it is a great idea for them to go off alone to pay their respects.

Austen’s explanation of how Henry came to love Catherine is both anti-romantic and beautiful at the same time. What to you think?

Henry is a hero. His standing up to his father and marrying the woman of much less property and wealth, with the possibility of no income from his own father, again, is huge.

I love this comment from the annotated text:

One of Jane Austen’s main goals—and achievements—as a novelist is to show the virtues and vices of ordinary life, and to demonstrate that the consequences of either, and the struggles between them, can have as great a moral significance as the more extreme consequences and conflicts that other novelists present.

I agree with Austen. The little things that people do, sometimes without a thought, can be catastrophic to others. Thoughtlessness and selfishness are responsible for so much unhappiness and so much of that is completely unnecessary.

The General may not have murdered his wife or kept her as prisoner, but he is a terrible villain.

Is Henry a hero? Is the General a villain? Who is most at fault, who is the worst, in the novel?

Only 2 chapters left….

4 thoughts on “Northanger Abbey Vol. 2 Chapters 13-15”

  1. I love this section too! It’s so relevant now when seemingly inconsequential decisions can have such importance. Austen is devine !

  2. I love this section, too!!! And I thought the very same thing…are we returning to the Gothic, Jane? Are you taking us there? Cuz if you are, I get a front row seat!

    These chapters nailed it for me: I LOVE Henry. At least, I like him very much. Why? Because the father is the dope. The father is the Bad Man that Jane is having us focus all our attention on now. Henry, away, is waiting in the wings. Oh, Henry. Here it is: Because I completely distrust and dislike the General, I gain sudden, deep sympathy for his children. Whereas I read the earlier scenes with Henry and Catherine as his somewhat making fun of her (her Gothic love, the flowers she should grow to love), I now read them and all the other tete-a-tetes between H and C as positive. Henry is not a jerk. But oh his dad. I dare say he being abusive toward Catherine AND Henry and Eleanor. I felt her despair as she was transported home. To be forced home. To have one’s journey end so soon. Not cool. All the more the heroine is she.

    Her return home made me happy, for I knew she had grown up on her heroine’s journey, and I was relieved and happy that she was well received, comforted, and we are almost ready to leave her alone, knowing that she’s going to eventually put it all behind her and then move on. Still, I am curious how it’s going to turn out, because she is our heroine. We can’t have an unhappy heroine.

    Then BAM. Henry. My heart was racing (and I was so amused that a conduct book was in C’s mother’s hands as she faces Henry for the first time!). On and on, the explanation, the love. I love, by the way, how Austen handles Henry’s explantation of his father’s behavior: third person narration rather than having Henry speak it out. I loved this: “I leave it to my reader’s sagacity to determine how much of all this it was possible for Henry to communicate at this time to Catherine.”

    To your question about whether or not we think Henry is a hero, I say, NO. This is not a novel about him. He loves the heroine, but this IS her journey. He just happens to love her. Oh: overly romantic thought: perhaps I did not like Henry so much in the beginning because she was getting into all kinds of trouble and growing so painfully up, and my wish was for her not to have to go through it…so I was thinking, “Come on dude! This lady is struggling! Throw her a rope!” He never did, in my opinion, offer her more support, more of a rope to be the true romantic hero. BUT…She was awash in a sea of being without her birth family with her throughout almost the whole novel. She is with a surrogate family who takes her to a place where she becomes friends with another family who brings her in to their home…so many familiar layers. This is not a novel about Your Birth Family Is Always Your Best Family…not by any means (because, look at the sad Tilney situation). My point is: this book feels very MODERN to me because Austen is telling us that a handsome man like Henry who cares our heroine is not necessarily going to be able to be the lifeline she needs. She. Needs. Her. Own.

    When he arrives though, all bets are off. He straightens things out once and for all, the weight is lifted off Catherine.

    General=villain? At this point, sure. But I wonder what the hell made him that way.

    1. Ooh to all of this.
      Nicely put.
      And you are kinder than me. I don’t care what made the General the way he is. I despise him. sigh.
      I love your point that Catherine does do most of the work of transforming herself, and that is why she is the hero of the novel. Cool, Marcia.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *