Northanger Abbey Vol. 2 Chapter 16

Northanger Abbey comes to a sweet, if somewhat abrupt end.

I love that Catherine’s parents are surprised for about three minutes about the engagement, “but as nothing, after all, could be more natural than Catherine’s being beloved, they soon learnt to consider it with only the happy agitation of gratified pride, and, as far as they alone were concerned, had not a single objection to start.”

Such lovely parents.

I also appreciate their embracing of Henry.

His pleasing manners and good sense were self-evident recommendations; and having never heard evil of him, it was not their way to suppose any evil could be told. Goodwill supplying the place of experience, his character needed no attestation.

I really appreciate how pragmatic and kind these people are. They don’t judge, and they don’t wildly speculate. They trust people.

Of course, the elephant in the room, is the General. The Morlands are so happy at this possible marriage, but rules are rules, and if the General doesn’t approve, well…

The parents handling of the clandestine correspondence between Catherine and Henry is also wonderful. Writing letters was certainly a common practice, but it was frowned upon between unmarried people of the opposite sex. So, rules can be bent.

How marvelous that Eleanor escapes her father’s house and goes into the arms of a man she loves. One commentator explains that what likely happened is her new husband was the younger son in a titled family, meaning, he very likely had very little money and didn’t feel he could wed. What probably happened is that the elder son and heir died without male issue, so younger brother gets the money and the title.

By mentioning the papers that Catherine had found in her misadventure and suggesting these were the Viscount’s, Austen is parodying other writers of the time by trying to tie up loose ends. I wish she’d also told us about Isabella and John and Fred—I’d like to know how they fared. In later novels, Austen will tell us the fates of other characters.

Her final words, seeming to praise the General for helping aid the developing relationship between Catherine and Tilney, is parody as well. Many novels at the time would end with a moral message. It is probably safe to say that Austen does not think that the General is a good man or parent. So please do not go and tyrannize your children and then lay the blame at Austen’s door.

I love this novel. And once again, I feel as though it ended too soon! Really! In the back of my mind, I thought she did speak of Fred and Isabella again. I find that so amusing. But, I am so pleased that Henry and Catherine are together. I think they will have a happy life.

Let me know what you think of this ending and this novel as a whole.

4 thoughts on “Northanger Abbey Vol. 2 Chapter 16”

  1. I raced to finish this last chapter. Holy Cow! Really! So I’m just going to blurt here and put my emotions away and pick up another JA novel after I get over this one.

    I didn’t think it ended too soon. Here’s why: I don’t give a hoot about Isabella, John, and Fred. As the drama moved to its final acts, I felt that there was a narrowing of the lens…the minute Catherine was forced to depart, in the earlier chapters, I was with her every step, and no other characters mattered. That she hung her head in such despair on the journey home…I forget some of the words Austen uses to describe the passage of time on the journey but it felt like she was turning a lens on Catherine. The welcome back. The home. Small. Humble. MUCH more utilitarian than silly resort Bath or the richness of NA or of Henry’s manor. Home. Click your heels and there you are. So I felt that the past was over. Those characters were over. Austen had me Defriend and Stop Following Isabella, John, and Fred. Had she made a mention of their ultimate demises, how their miserable selves ended up, it would have been humorous, witty, and I would have accepted it as a way to tie loose ends up. It seems Austen tied up enough loose ends fast in this last chapter–perhaps too fast, as you say, K–but Lordy I read it so fast to get to the end I can’t right now tell a speeding train from a shooting star in my mind.

    I love the last sentence. Recommending parental tyranny or rewarding finial disobience. This is definitely a tale of families (on one level…there are many more).

    Thanks, Katherine, for starting this book discussion.

    1. Yay again! I think you’ve nailed it.
      I think I wanted it longer simply because I love being in her world.
      But, of course, you are right. She narrowed the lens, with enough room for Henry, and that is enough.

    1. Austen believes in the rules, sort of. She is a master at drawing distinctions between good conduct and moral conduct and ethics and…I love her. I am so glad that you do too. 😉

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