Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Northanger Abbey discussion: Volume 1, Chapters 11 – 15


The stay in Bath continues, with Catherine increasingly tricked and cajoled to spend time with John Thorpe. We meet more of the Tilneys, and receive good news(?) at the end of Volume 1.

The comments section is for what you think of the book through the end of Volume 1. Add anything interesting you've found from other sources as well!

The illustration is from The Republic of Pemberley.

2 comments:

Chrees said...

This is one section I don’t have a lot to comment on. The struggle to arrange Catherine and John Thorpe is tiresome to me, even though I realize it is necessary to the story. Catherine’s romanticism of all things related to castles is humorous though, and a good setup for Volume 2.

I did enjoy Chapter 14 quite a bit, and it may be my favorite of the whole book. There is quite a lot of discussion on books, history vs. literature, learning to read, the picturesque trend, and many other things. Others have covered this in more detail (like at http://www.jimandellen.org/austen/na.ch14a.html). Lots of delicate touches here, the oft-quoted “imbecility in females is a great enhancement of the personal charms” is just the starting point. Austen lays a lot of groundwork here for the type of person Tilney is, as well as tweaking some of the fads of the day.

Early in Volume 1, I wondered if Northanger Abbey would lend itself well as being presented as a play. While it would take some adaptation to minimize the various locations, I’m convinced it would make a very good play, even if the satirical points are played down due to their being irrelevant today. Very formulaic at times, the light touch and wit on display lends itself to the stage quite well.

Barry Barnitz said...

Trouble on the road to Hymen is foreshadowed by Catherine's reactions to Isabella's confidences on her incipient marriage to James. Catherine is obviously aware of the variance of Isabella's assertions to the dictates of sense, but considering that Isabella is a friend, and having as yet no suspicion of duplicity, Catherine rationalizes Isabella's expressed feelings as distortions of love.

Delighting, however, as Catherine sincerely did in the prospect of the connection, it must be acknowledged that Isabella far surpassed her in tender anticipations. “You will be so infinitely dearer to me, my Catherine, than either Anne or Maria: I feel that I shall be so much more attached to my dear Morland’s family than to my own.”

This was a pitch of friendship beyond Catherine.

"... and when I came into the drawing–room, and John introduced him, I thought I never saw anybody so handsome before.”

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.

...“Morland says exactly the same,” replied Isabella; “and yet I dare not expect it; my fortune will be so small; they never can consent to it. Your brother, who might marry anybody!”

Here Catherine again discerned the force of love.


Later, we see confirmation of the fact hinted at above that Isabella, like her brother, has an exaggerated notion of the Morland family wealth. We clearly see Isabella's shallowness in her portrait of the married state (set off in bold):

...The letter, whence sprang all this felicity, was short, containing little more than this assurance of success; and every particular was deferred till James could write again. But for particulars Isabella could well afford to wait. The needful was comprised in Mr. Morland’s promise; his honour was pledged to make everything easy; and by what means their income was to be formed, whether landed property were to be resigned, or funded money made over, was a matter in which her disinterested spirit took no concern. She knew enough to feel secure of an honourable and speedy establishment, and her imagination took a rapid flight over its attendant felicities. She saw herself at the end of a few weeks, the gaze and admiration of every new acquaintance at Fullerton, the envy of every valued old friend in Putney, with a carriage at her command, a new name on her tickets, and a brilliant exhibition of hoop rings on her finger.