Northanger Abbey

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Eleanor Tilney (Miss Tilney) Character Analysis

A well-mannered, sensible, and sensitive young woman, Eleanor Tilney becomes friends with Catherine in Bath. Eleanor, whose mother died nine years before the action of the novel, suffers from loneliness when she is at home at Northanger Abbey with only her brusque and tyrannical father for company. General Tilney encourages her friendship with Catherine because he believes Catherine to be wealthy and wants her to be Henry’s wife, but Eleanor is very happy to have the company and friendship of another woman.

Eleanor Tilney (Miss Tilney) Quotes in Northanger Abbey

The Northanger Abbey quotes below are all either spoken by Eleanor Tilney (Miss Tilney) or refer to Eleanor Tilney (Miss Tilney). For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Novels and the Heroine Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin Classics edition of Northanger Abbey published in 2003.
Volume 1, Chapter 13 Quotes

It was painful to her to disappoint and displease them, particularly to displease her brother; but she could not repent her resistance. Setting her own inclination apart, to have failed a second time in her engagement to Miss Tilney, to have retracted a promise voluntarily made only five minutes before, and on a false pretence too, must have been wrong. She had not been withstanding them on selfish principles alone, she had not consulted merely her own satisfaction; that might have been ensured in some degree by the excursion itself, by seeing Blaize Castle; no, she had attended to what was due to others, and to her own character in their opinion.

Related Characters: Catherine Morland, Eleanor Tilney (Miss Tilney)
Related Symbols: Old Buildings / Northanger Abbey
Page Number: 97
Explanation and Analysis:

Catherine has refused to change her plans for a walk with the Tilneys to go on a drive with the Thorpes—so John Thorpe takes it upon himself to reschedule Catherine’s walk with the Tilney’s without her permission. Catherine refuses to accept this and is running away from Isabella, James, and John to rush to the Tilneys and confirm that she does want to go on the walk they had planned. Once again, John Thorpe has proven that he has no scruples when it comes to lying to get his way. Catherine on the other hand, has a strong sense of propriety and of loyalty to a promise given.

Catherine has already let the Tilneys down once, when John lied and told her he saw them leaving town to convince her to go on a drive with the Thorpes instead of waiting for the Tilneys to go on a walk. On this occasion, she saw how angry it made Henry Tilney when he thought she had purposefully ignored her commitment to take a walk. Henry has told her that he believes commitments should be honored, and Catherine shares this priority. For Henry and Catherine, it is important to follow through and keep your word not only when you want to, but at all times. This is a distinction that Henry sees as important to being well-mannered, honorable, and a gentleman or gentlewoman.

Although Catherine’s priority is to keep her promise to the Tilneys, she insists to herself that this is not only out of a selfish desire to spend time with Henry, but out of a commitment to do what is right. She feels sure of her own motives in insisting on sticking to her plan with the Tilneys, because she has a competing desire to see and explore Blaize Castle, which John Thorpe told her was a grand old castle like those described in the Gothic novels she loves. Catherine has said before that interest in reading the Gothic novel The Mysteries of Udolpho has stopped her from being too forlorn in Henry’s absence. In fact, her interest in old buildings is often just as keen as her interest in Henry Tilney. It is as if Catherine has not yet decided whether she would prefer her story to be like a Sentimental novel, centered around a romance, or a Gothic novel, in which the romance takes place in an exotic and frightening location. What Catherine does not know, however, is that Blaize Castle was built only a few years before, so the promise that it is an old castle is just another of John Thorpe’s lies.

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Volume 2, Chapter 2 Quotes

“'Well, proceed by all means. I know how much your heart is in it. My daughter, Miss Morland,” he continued, without leaving his daughter time to speak, “has been forming a very bold wish. We leave Bath, as she has perhaps told you, on Saturday se'nnight. A letter from my steward tells me that my presence is wanted at home; and being disappointed in my hope of seeing the Marquis of Longtown and General Courteney here, some of my very old friends, there is nothing to detain me longer in Bath. And could we carry our selfish point with you, we should leave it without a single regret. Can you, in short, be prevailed on to quit this scene of public triumph and oblige your friend Eleanor with your company in Gloucestershire? I am almost ashamed to make the request, though its presumption would certainly appear greater to every creature in Bath than yourself. Modesty such as yours—but not for the world would I pain it by open praise. If you can be induced to honour us with a visit, you will make us happy beyond expression. 'Tis true, we can offer you nothing like the gaieties of this lively place; we can tempt you neither by amusement nor splendour, for our mode of living, as you see, is plain and unpretending; yet no endeavours shall be wanting on our side to make Northanger Abbey not wholly disagreeable.”

Related Characters: General Tilney (speaker), Catherine Morland, Eleanor Tilney (Miss Tilney)
Related Symbols: Old Buildings / Northanger Abbey
Page Number: 132
Explanation and Analysis:

General Tilney has walked into the room just as Eleanor is about to invite Catherine to come stay at her home, Northanger Abbey, and he issues the invitation himself. It is the first time in the novel that he gives a long speech and its content reveals a great deal about him. He says that he will let his daughter continue, but then cuts her off seemingly without even realizing it. This reveals that he is not a very considerate or accommodating parent.

The General then goes on to invite Catherine in very flattering and self-effacing terms. This scene comes only one chapter after we see that Isabella Thorpe has been disappointed to find out how much money the Morlands have, so the General’s flattering speech to Catherine suggests that he is another hypocrite seeking to cultivate a relationship with Catherine in order to improve his social standing in the false belief that she is an heiress. But based on Eleanor and Henry’s obvious good education and Eleanor’s elegant way of dressing, it does not seem likely that the Tilneys really live as plainly as the General contends.

Volume 2, Chapter 8 Quotes

To be kept up for hours, after the family were in bed, by stupid pamphlets, was not very likely. There must be some deeper cause: something was to be done which could be done only while the household slept; and the probability that Mrs. Tilney yet lived, shut up for causes unknown, and receiving from the pitiless hands of her husband a nightly supply of coarse food, was the conclusion which necessarily followed. Shocking as was the idea, it was at least better than a death unfairly hastened, as, in the natural course of things, she must ere long be released. The suddenness of her reputed illness; the absence of her daughter, and probably of her other children, at the time—all favoured the supposition of her imprisonment.—Its origin—jealousy perhaps, or wanton cruelty—was yet to be unravelled.

Related Characters: Catherine Morland, General Tilney, Eleanor Tilney (Miss Tilney), Mrs. Tilney
Related Symbols: Old Buildings / Northanger Abbey
Page Number: 177
Explanation and Analysis:

The General has said that he will stay awake after Catherine and Eleanor go to bed. Excited to be staying in an old building like Northanger Abbey, Catherine is on the lookout for signs of something mysterious or sinister that would be familiar to her from the Gothic novels she loves. She finds the General unpleasant and domineering, but she is not used to making such judgments for herself. Instead of imagining him to be a harsh man whose company she dislikes, Catherine concocts a theory that the General is a dramatic and murderous villain. When she hears that the General plans to stay up after everyone else goes to bed, she instantly remembers the way that Montoni in The Mysteries of Udolpho keeps the heroine’s aunt locked up in the castle. She knows of no motive for a crime against Mrs. Tilney, nor is she sure that Frederick and Henry were not home at the time of their mother’s death. But despite these many gaps in her knowledge, Catherine decides that she has finally found a mystery worthy of investigating. Earlier in the novel, Catherine was afraid even to think ill of someone—but now she swings to the opposite extreme, thinking the absolute worst of the General. Both attitudes reflect her lack of experience analyzing other people and the world around her.

Volume 2, Chapter 10 Quotes

Charming as were all Mrs. Radcliffe's works, and charming even as were the works of all her imitators, it was not in them perhaps that human nature, at least in the midland counties of England, was to be looked for. Of the Alps and Pyrenees, with their pine forests and their vices, they might give a faithful delineation; and Italy, Switzerland, and the South of France, might be as fruitful in horrors as they were there represented. Catherine dared not doubt beyond her own country, and even of that, if hard pressed, would have yielded the northern and western extremities. But in England it was not so; among the English, she believed, in their hearts and habits, there was a general though unequal mixture of good and bad. Upon this conviction, she would not be surprized if even in Henry and Eleanor Tilney, some slight imperfection might hereafter appear and upon this conviction she need not fear to acknowledge some actual specks in the character of their father, who, though cleared from the grossly injurious suspicions which she must ever blush to have entertained, she did believe, upon serious consideration, to be not perfectly amiable.

Related Characters: Catherine Morland (speaker), Henry Tilney (Mr. Tilney), General Tilney, Eleanor Tilney (Miss Tilney)
Page Number: 188
Explanation and Analysis:

Catherine had felt sure that Henry would no longer like her after he discovered her horrible suspicions about his father, but Henry, recognizing that she will feel embarrassed, treats her with kindness. Catherine soon moves on from the humiliation of the moment to reflect on what she can learn from it. She begins to compare the characterizations in Gothic novels to those of the people she knows. Her conclusions are in some ways exactly the ones that Henry suggested she ought to draw: that she should look around her and recognize that she lives in a society that is tightly controlled both by laws and codes of conduct, where gruesome crimes are unlikely to go undiscovered. She also takes his other piece of advice to heart, however, and begins to try to think for herself. In doing this, she recognizes that she may have been wrong about the General being a murderer, but this does not mean that he is a paragon of virtue. She recognizes that everyone has their good and bad qualities, and that she should take her own perceptions seriously and use her own mental powers to assess the people around her.

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Eleanor Tilney (Miss Tilney) Character Timeline in Northanger Abbey

The timeline below shows where the character Eleanor Tilney (Miss Tilney) appears in Northanger Abbey. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Volume 1, Chapter 8
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...then approaches her party along with Mrs. Hughes, a woman who is accompanying his sister Miss Tilney and knows Mrs. Thorpe. He addresses himself to both Catherine and Mrs. Allen, who says... (full context)
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Mrs. Hughes approaches Catherine and asks if Miss Tilney can stand near her during the dance and Catherine eagerly agrees. Miss Tilney is pretty... (full context)
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...find Catherine and saying that she has been scolding him for his laziness. Catherine points Miss Tilney out to Isabella, who exclaims at her beauty and asks where Mr. Tilney is. When... (full context)
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...about and tease people. The rest of the night, she hardly sees Mr. Tilney or Miss Tilney , and Isabella gives her very little attention. (full context)
Volume 1, Chapter 9
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The next day, Catherine wants to become better acquainted with Miss Tilney and plans to seek her out in the Pump-room. She spends the morning reading her... (full context)
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...Mrs. Hughes in the Pump-room and then walked on the Crescent with Mr. Tilney and Miss Tilney . Mrs. Allen talked to Mrs. Hughes a great deal, but can remember little. She... (full context)
Volume 1, Chapter 10
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The next morning, Catherine is determined to meet Miss Tilney in the Pump-room. She walks apart from the others with Isabella and James, but begins... (full context)
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Catherine finally sees Miss Tilney and goes to speak with her. Although their conversation is very common, they both speak... (full context)
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Before leaving that night, Catherine chats with Miss Tilney and they agree to take a country walk together with Mr. Tilney the next day,... (full context)
Volume 1, Chapter 11
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...Catherine as they ride by and asks Catherine who it is; Catherine turns and sees Eleanor and Henry Tilney walking down the street. Catherine shouts for John to stop the carriage... (full context)
Volume 1, Chapter 12
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...happened the day before. Mrs. Allen says to go, but to wear white, the color Miss Tilney always wears. Catherine gives her card at the door, and the servant goes upstairs to... (full context)
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...to them when she saw them from the carriage. Henry Tilney softens. He explains that Eleanor did not refuse to see her in anger; General Tilney had planned on taking a... (full context)
Volume 1, Chapter 13
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...that they had cut short. They go to tell Catherine, who has been speaking with Miss Tilney , that this is the plan, but Catherine objects, saying she is very sorry but... (full context)
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...had walked off for a few minutes, returns. He reports that he just spoke to Miss Tilney and told her that Catherine had sent him to ask if they could postpone their... (full context)
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...into the parlor by the servant. She gives a jumbled explanation of what had happened. Miss Tilney says that she had been surprised by Mr. Thorpe canceling the walk they had only... (full context)
Volume 1, Chapter 14
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The next morning, Henry (Mr. Tilney), Eleanor (Miss Tilney), and Catherine take their country walk. Catherine comments that a cliff they see... (full context)
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Eleanor asks Catherine if she is fond of novels in general, and Catherine confesses that while... (full context)
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Henry and Eleanor begin to discuss the landscape from the point of view of those who draw, and... (full context)
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...she has heard from a friend that “something very shocking” will come out of London. Eleanor is alarmed, thinking that Catherine is still talking about current events, but Henry understands that... (full context)
Volume 1, Chapter 15
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...him a good journey, saying she must go home to prepare for her dinner with Miss Tilney . John stops her and says they may not see one another for a long... (full context)
Volume 2, Chapter 1
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...that she did not have a nice time. She feels less well-acquainted with Henry and Eleanor at the end of her visit than she did before. She feels that it is... (full context)
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...about her time at the Tilneys’, Isabella chalks their behavior up to pride, saying that Miss Tilney was insolent to Catherine and Mr. Tilney had ignored her. Catherine denies these characterizations of... (full context)
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...and she is happy to be asked to dance by Henry and warmly greeted by Eleanor that night at a ball. Also at the ball is Henry Tilney’s older brother Captain... (full context)
Volume 2, Chapter 2
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...of seeing Henry Tilney sometimes and speculates very little about the future. She joyfully tells Eleanor Tilney that they will be staying, only to receive the news that General Tilney wishes... (full context)
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...little the Tilneys think about what a marvelous place they call home. Although she asks Miss Tilney many questions about the abbey, Catherine is too excited to process what she hears. (full context)
Volume 2, Chapter 5
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...to Northanger Abbey, Catherine at first feels very uncomfortable among the Tilneys. Although Henry and Eleanor are kind to her, Catherine feels that the General’s constant concern for her comfort is,... (full context)
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...is sometimes left completely alone when General Tilney travels. Catherine wonders at Henry not being Eleanor’s companion, and he explains that he has his own house at Woodston, twenty miles away.... (full context)
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...too amused by how worked up she has become to continue. Catherine says she knows Eleanor wouldn’t let any of this happen to her and that she is not afraid. (full context)
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...there are other, better rooms at Northanger. He exclaims that it is almost five, and Miss Tilney rushes Catherine to her room to get ready. From this Catherine understands that everything at... (full context)
Volume 2, Chapter 6
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...the heavy lid when a knock at the door surprises her. The lid slams, and Eleanor’s maid enters to ask if Catherine needs help. Catherine sends her away and resumes getting... (full context)
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Catherine and Eleanor rush downstairs where the General is pacing about, and he orders dinner served immediately. Noticing... (full context)
Volume 2, Chapter 7
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Catherine changes the subject, noting the hyacinths in the garden and saying that Eleanor taught her to admire them. She says she never cared about flowers before. Henry says... (full context)
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...to see him off. Catherine asks if Woodston is pretty, and the General says that Eleanor should say, since ladies are better judges, but then does not let Eleanor speak. The... (full context)
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...at the grounds first, and goes to get ready for a walk with Catherine and Eleanor. Catherine is disappointed. She thinks that without Henry there to explain the landscape, she will... (full context)
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Eleanor starts down a path, but the General says it is too cold and damp. Catherine... (full context)
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Catherine begins to question Eleanor about her mother, asking if she was charming and beautiful, and if she liked this... (full context)
Volume 2, Chapter 8
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To finish the tour, Eleanor starts to walk into a wing of the house, but the General stops her sharply,... (full context)
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Catherine tells Eleanor that she would like to see Mrs. Tilney's room, and Eleanor promises to show it... (full context)
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...evening. She thinks it additionally strange that he stays up to read after Catherine and Eleanor go to sleep. From this, Catherine assumes that General Tilney must stay up late because... (full context)
Volume 2, Chapter 9
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The next day, while the General takes his morning walk, Catherine asks Eleanor to show her Mrs. Tilney’s room. First, they go to look at Mrs. Tilney’s portrait,... (full context)
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The next day, Catherine decides to spare Eleanor the danger of being caught by the General again by going to explore Mrs. Tilney’s... (full context)
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...that she did not think he would return until the next day. Henry asks if Eleanor leaves her to explore on her own, and Catherine responds that Eleanor showed her most... (full context)
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...back to Mrs. Tilney’s room. He praises the comfort of the room, then asks if Eleanor sent Catherine to look at it, which Catherine denies. Henry says it is unusual for... (full context)
Volume 2, Chapter 10
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...and France, but that in England people are neither villains nor angels. Even Henry and Eleanor, she reflects, may have imperfections, and certainly the General, even if he is not a... (full context)
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Catherine gasps in astonishment while reading, and both Henry and Eleanor are concerned about what kind of news she has received. She cries over breakfast, then... (full context)
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Catherine joins Henry and Eleanor, then sits in silence, unsure what to say. Eleanor asks if her family at Fullerton... (full context)
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...is true, he will not envy Frederick’s situation “either as a lover or a son.” Eleanor asks Catherine about Isabella’s background and fortune. Catherine says that Isabella has no fortune, but... (full context)
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Henry sarcastically says that Eleanor should prepare for a sister-in-law who is “open, candid, artless, guileless, with affections strong but... (full context)
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...does not feel this way. In fact, Catherine’s spirits lift after talking to Henry and Eleanor, even though she had never meant to tell them what James’s letter contained. (full context)
Volume 2, Chapter 11
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Catherine, Henry, and Eleanor speak frequently about the possibility that Frederick and Isabella will marry. Henry and Eleanor believe... (full context)
Volume 2, Chapter 12
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Catherine reads the letter aloud to Henry and Eleanor and denounces Isabella, saying she wishes she had never known her. She congratulates them that... (full context)
Volume 2, Chapter 13
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...happily. Catherine feels unconstrained in his absence, and has a wonderful time with Henry and Eleanor, but wonders if she might be overstaying her welcome. She wonders if the Tilneys are... (full context)
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...to leave Northanger for a couple of nights, but with the General’s absence, Catherine and Eleanor still enjoy each other’s company a great deal. Late that evening, they hear a carriage... (full context)
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Catherine hears a sound in the hallway and goes to the door to find Eleanor standing behind it. Eleanor is pale and agitated and struggles to speak. Catherine tries to... (full context)
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Catherine asks if she has offended the General, and Eleanor says that she knows he has no reason to be offended, but he was very... (full context)
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...will not even be able to say goodbye to Henry. She thinks that, despite what Eleanor said, she must have somehow offended the General. Catherine spends a sleepless night, similar to... (full context)
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Eleanor comes to Catherine’s room in the morning, but brings no apology from the General. Eleanor... (full context)
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Eleanor, a bit embarrassed, asks if Catherine has enough money for her journey home. Catherine had... (full context)
Volume 2, Chapter 14
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Catherine sits down to write to Eleanor. She is now fully aware of how hard this situation was for Eleanor and is... (full context)
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...that the next friends Catherine makes “will be better worth keeping.” Catherine blushes and defends Eleanor. Mrs. Morland calmly predicts that, if what she says is true, they will surely meet... (full context)
Volume 2, Chapter 16
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...share Henry and Catherine’s anxiety. But how could the General be brought around? It was Eleanor’s marriage to a man with both wealth and rank that changed the General’s mind. Eleanor... (full context)
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Eleanor and her husband, a Viscount, help persuade the General to accept Henry’s marriage to Catherine.... (full context)