Northanger Abbey

Pdf fan Tap here to download this LitChart! (PDF)
Themes and Colors
Novels and the Heroine Theme Icon
Sincerity and Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Wealth and Respectability Theme Icon
Experience and Innocence Theme Icon
Loyalty and Love Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Northanger Abbey, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Sincerity and Hypocrisy Theme Icon

Northanger Abbey describes the experiences of Catherine Morland, a sincere young woman raised in a small, rural parsonage, as she comes into her first sustained contact with the worldly and sometimes hypocritical world of society. Catherine has grown up being told explicitly how others viewed her and her behavior, but those she meets in Bath society sometimes lie about or hide their true opinions to influence or manipulate others. Specifically, Catherine is taken in by the hypocrisy of Isabella Thorpe, who thinks the Morlands are rich and therefore seeks Catherine’s friendship because she hopes to marry Catherine’s brother James. Catherine similarly misunderstands the motives of General Tilney, who seeks to marry his son Henry to Catherine for the same reason. Meanwhile, both Isabella and General Tilney belittle the importance of wealth when in conversation, because they want to hide their motives. Their hypocrisy is eventually unmasked to Catherine once they realize that they were mistaken about the Morlands’ affluence and then change the way they behave towards the Morland brother and sister. But to a reader of the time, these characters’ hypocrisy and their ulterior motive of marrying someone for wealth rather than love would have been clear from the start. Their protestations not to care about money are much too overstated to be believable by anyone with a bit of experience.

While Catherine’s sincerity makes her vulnerable to manipulation by hypocrites, the novel is not simply criticizing such sincerity. In fact, the novel shows how Catherine’s sincerity also earns her the affection and loyalty of true and caring friends. Henry and Eleanor Tilney find Catherine’s sincerity refreshing, a bit comic, and ultimately extremely attractive. For them, her sincerity goes hand in hand with her other fine qualities: loyalty, curiosity, and lack of pretension. In the end, the contrast between Catherine’s sincere love for Henry and Henry’s father’s hypocrisy in courting her only because he believed her to be an heiress convinces Henry that he must stand up to his father and marry Catherine, despite her lower social standing. Through the course of the novel, Catherine learns to better understand when others are not being forthright, but does not cease to be so herself. Although her assumption that others are sincere is a sign of her innocence, her own sincerity is not mere naïveté, but one of her most admirable character traits.

The novel, then, distinguishes between sincerity as naïveté and sincerity as honesty. The happy ending to Catherine’s story, along with the unhappy one to Isabella’s, shows that the novel prizes the latter view—sincerity as honesty. Although Isabella sought to marry to raise her position in the world and Catherine (despite her family’s lack of wealth) had no such intention, Catherine’s sincerity earns her this more comfortable and desirable fate.

Get the entire Northanger Abbey LitChart as a printable PDF.
Northanger abbey.pdf.medium

Sincerity and Hypocrisy Quotes in Northanger Abbey

Below you will find the important quotes in Northanger Abbey related to the theme of Sincerity and Hypocrisy.
Volume 1, Chapter 5 Quotes

Isabella was very sure that he must be a charming young man and was equally sure that he must have been delighted with her dear Catherine, and would therefore shortly return. She liked him the better for being a clergyman, “for she must confess herself very partial to the profession” and something like a sigh escaped her as she said it. Perhaps Catherine was wrong in not demanding the cause of that gentle emotion—but she was not experienced enough in the finesse of love, or the duties of friendship, to know when delicate raillery was properly called for, or when a confidence should be forced.

Related Characters: Catherine Morland, Isabella Thorpe, James Morland, Henry Tilney (Mr. Tilney)
Page Number: 35
Explanation and Analysis:

Catherine has confided to Isabella that she met a man named Henry Tilney and found him charming, but that she has not seen him since. Isabella (we later learn) hopes to marry Catherine’s brother James, so she is trying to become as close as possible to Catherine. She flatters Catherine by saying that Henry Tilney must have been just as interested in Catherine as she was in him. Isabella then goes on to hint that she also has a love interest that she would like Catherine to ask her about—another clergyman, just like Henry. Catherine, however, is far behind Isabella in her understanding of both romance and the indirect ways people hint at their romantic feelings. By saying she is interested in men who are clergymen and then sighing, Isabella is providing Catherine with the opportunity to question her about which specific clergyman she is in love with, but Catherine comes from a family that always speaks directly and honestly, so she lacks the experience to interpret such hints. Catherine knows that Isabella has met her brother James and knows that he is in training to be a clergyman, but she does not know to put these pieces of information together with the new information about Isabella’s preference for clergymen and her eager friendliness towards Catherine to arrive at a suspicion that Isabella may have feelings for James.


Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other Northanger Abbey quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!
Volume 1, Chapter 7 Quotes

These manners did not please Catherine; but he was James's friend and Isabella's brother; and her judgment was further bought off by Isabella's assuring her, when they withdrew to see the new hat, that John thought her the most charming girl in the world, and by John's engaging her before they parted to dance with him that evening. Had she been older or vainer, such attacks might have done little; but, where youth and diffidence are united, it requires uncommon steadiness of reason to resist the attraction of being called the most charming girl in the world, and of being so very early engaged as a partner; and the consequence was, that, when the two Morlands, after sitting an hour with the Thorpes, set off to walk together to Mr. Allen's, and James, as the door was closed on them, said, “Well, Catherine, how do you like my friend Thorpe?” instead of answering, as she probably would have done, had there been no friendship and no flattery in the case, “I do not like him at all;” she directly replied, “I like him very much; he seems very agreeable.”

Related Characters: Catherine Morland, Isabella Thorpe, John Thorpe, James Morland, Mr. Allen
Page Number: 48
Explanation and Analysis:

Catherine’s brother James has arrived in Bath with Isabella’s brother John. It is Catherine’s first time meeting John, and she finds him ill-mannered, entitled, and difficult to talk to. Catherine has grown up in the countryside, however, and has seemingly never before met a man of her age and class to whom she was not related. Thus she feels herself to be too inexperienced to trust her own first impressions of John’s character, and instead decides to trust her older brother’s judgment in choosing John as his friend. She also feels that, as Isabella’s brother, John likely shares some of Isabella’s qualities, and Catherine has been thoroughly won over by Isabella’s flattery. Catherine also remembers the experience of going to a ball with only Mrs. Allen and having no one to dance with, so she is happy to know that she will not have to feel left out of the dancing and worry about being looked down upon as a girl who could not attract a partner at the ball tonight. It does not occur to her yet that being committed to dance with a partner she does not like will prevent her from being able to accept an invitation to dance from someone she likes better.

Volume 1, Chapter 9 Quotes

Catherine listened with astonishment; she knew not how to reconcile two such very different accounts of the same thing; for she had not been brought up to understand the propensities of a rattle, nor to know to how many idle assertions and impudent falsehoods the excess of vanity will lead. Her own family were plain matter-of-fact people, who seldom aimed at wit of any kind; her father, at the utmost, being contented with a pun, and her mother with a proverb; they were not in the habit therefore of telling lies to increase their importance, or of asserting at one moment what they would contradict the next.

Related Characters: Catherine Morland, John Thorpe
Page Number: 64
Explanation and Analysis:

John and Catherine are on a carriage ride and John has bragged about his carriage, saying it is a much better carriage than her brother James’s. Catherine, worried about James’s safety, demands to know whether John believes that James’s carriage is really unsafe. John continues to say what a rickety old carriage James has and that it is likely to crash, but when Catherine grows alarmed for her brother’s safety, John immediately retracts everything he has said and says the carriage is perfectly safe.

As the narrator states here, Catherine lacks experience with this kind of behavior. Firstly, she has never encountered this sort of vanity. John lies about and exaggerates the quality of his own carriage and belittles other people’s carriages in order to make himself seem better in relation to others. He believes that having a luxurious and speedy carriage will make him seem more distinguished and wealthy, and thus more attractive to (the presumably wealthy) Catherine. John also has no qualms about immediately reversing his statements if he finds that they are not producing the desired effect, caring nothing for the integrity or truthfulness of his assertions. Catherine, however, does not understand what could possibly motivate someone to take such diametrically opposed positions. It is still unclear whether Catherine will ever learn to understand hypocrisy and the vanity and manipulation that so often motivates it.

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.

Volume 1, Chapter 14 Quotes

But Catherine did not know her own advantages—did not know that a good-looking girl, with an affectionate heart and a very ignorant mind, cannot fail of attracting a clever young man, unless circumstances are particularly untoward. In the present instance, she confessed and lamented her want of knowledge; declared that she would give any thing in the world to be able to draw; and a lecture on the picturesque immediately followed, in which his instructions were so clear that she soon began to see beauty in every thing admired by him, and her attention was so earnest, that he became perfectly satisfied of her having a great deal of natural taste.

Related Characters: Narrator (speaker), Catherine Morland, Henry Tilney (Mr. Tilney)
Page Number: 106-107
Explanation and Analysis:

Catherine is taking a walk through the countryside around Bath with Henry and Eleanor Tilney, who begin to discuss which elements of the landscape would be best to capture in a drawing. Drawing was a skill cultivated by gentlewomen of the era; if a girl was good at drawing, it showed that her parents had invested in drawing instruction and meant her to have a life of wealth and leisure. Due to her inexperience with the world of high society, Catherine does not know that drawing is both a talent and a sign of social status. She sincerely wishes she knew about drawing because she wishes to be able to converse with the Tilneys intelligently and to make them like her. Henry, who has made fun of the hypocrisy and pretentions of many of those he meets in Bath, may like that Catherine is innocent of the class implications of drawing. He also finds her interest and faith in what he says a sign of her attraction to him, which, in turn, makes him feel a certain loyalty and affection for her.

Volume 1, Chapter 15 Quotes

“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 any body!”
Here Catherine again discerned the force of love. “Indeed, Isabella, you are too humble.—The difference of fortune can be nothing to signify.”
“Oh! my sweet Catherine, in your generous heart I know it would signify nothing; but we must not expect such disinterestedness in many. As for myself, I am sure I only wish our situations were reversed. Had I the command of millions, were I mistress of the whole world, your brother would be my only choice.”
This charming sentiment, recommended as much by sense as novelty, gave Catherine a most pleasing remembrance of all the heroines of her acquaintance; and she thought her friend never looked more lovely than in uttering the grand idea.

Related Characters: Catherine Morland (speaker), Isabella Thorpe (speaker), James Morland
Page Number: 114
Explanation and Analysis:

Isabella and James are engaged, but James has not yet gotten his parents’ permission for the marriage. Isabella believes the Morlands to be wealthy and fears that they will object to her as a daughter-in-law on the grounds that she has no fortune. Unaware that Isabella thinks the Morlands are wealthier than they are, Catherine believes all of Isabella’s anxiety to arise from her fear of losing the man she loves. In fact, if Isabella knew the actual extent of the Morlands’ fortune, she would not be interested in James at all, but she conceals her true motives by hypocritically saying how little she cares for money and overstating her absolute devotion to James. Catherine has read many novels about love across class lines, so Isabella’s hypocritical speech seems to Catherine just like a sincere and romantic declaration drawn from a Sentimental novel. To Catherine, the fact that her family is not much richer than Isabella’s makes Isabella’s fear of rejection seem like an even more potent sign of Isabella’s love for James.

Volume 2, Chapter 1 Quotes

“It is not on my own account I wish for more; but I cannot bear to be the means of injuring my dear Morland, making him sit down upon an income hardly enough to find one in the common necessaries of life. For myself, it is nothing; I never think of myself.”
“I know you never do, my dear; and you will always find your reward in the affection it makes every body feel for you. There never was a young woman so beloved as you are by every body that knows you; and I dare say when Mr. Morland sees you, my dear child—but do not let us distress our dear Catherine by talking of such things. Mr. Morland has behaved so very handsome you know. I always heard he was a most excellent man; and you know, my dear, we are not to suppose but what, if you had had a suitable fortune, he would have come down with something more, for I am sure he must be a most liberal-minded man.”
“Nobody can think better of Mr. Morland than I do, I am sure. But every body has their failing you know, and every body has a right to do what they like with their own money.” Catherine was hurt by these insinuations. “I am very sure” said she, “that my father has promised to do as much as he can afford.”

Related Characters: Catherine Morland (speaker), Isabella Thorpe (speaker), Mrs. Thorpe (speaker), James Morland, Mr. Morland
Page Number: 129
Explanation and Analysis:

Isabella has received a letter from James informing her of how much they can expect to receive from his father upon their marrying—and it is a much smaller amount than Isabella had hoped for. Mrs. Thorpe may have been the source of the Thorpes’ mistaken idea that the Morlands are a very wealthy family; she went to school with Mrs. Allen and knows the Allens to be wealthy. She may have heard from her son John that he had met someone named James Morland and told John to cultivate a friendship with James, just as Isabella has cultivated a friendship with Catherine, in the hope that her children would marry into money.

Isabella’s disappointment in the provision promised by Mr. Moreland does not prevent her from continuing to hypocritically declare how little she cares for money. She claims that she is disappointed only because she feels that by marrying her, James will miss out on his fair share of the family wealth. It was not uncommon for parents to give a smaller amount of money to children who wanted to marry someone that the parents did not approve of. Isabella and Mrs. Thorpe seem not yet to have realized that Mr. Morland has provided for his son as generously as he can. They believe that Mr. Morland is withholding his money out of a desire that his son marry a richer woman. They may hope to test this theory out, then, by dropping such broad hints to Catherine that they are disappointed in what Mr. Morland will provide.

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 3 Quotes

“A little harmless flirtation or so will occur, and one is often drawn on to give more encouragement than one wishes to stand by. But you may be assured that I am the last person in the world to judge you severely. All those things should be allowed for in youth and high spirits. What one means one day, you know, one may not mean the next. Circumstances change, opinions alter.”
“But my opinion of your brother never did alter; it was always the same. You are describing what never happened.”
“My dearest Catherine,” continued the other without at all listening to her, “I would not for all the world be the means of hurrying you into an engagement before you knew what you were about. I do not think any thing would justify me in wishing you to sacrifice all your happiness merely to oblige my brother, because he is my brother, and who perhaps after all, you know, might be just as happy without you, for people seldom know what they would be at, young men especially, they are so amazingly changeable and inconstant.”

Related Characters: Catherine Morland (speaker), Isabella Thorpe (speaker), John Thorpe, James Morland, Frederick Tilney (Captain Tilney)
Page Number: 138
Explanation and Analysis:

Isabella’s hypocrisy often takes the form of attributing her own thoughts and desires to someone else. In the past, Catherine has not picked up on this, because Isabella has attributed these desires to James or to “young men” in general. But in this case, Isabella describes her understanding of what passed between Catherine and John while actually giving a description of how she sees the situation between herself and James. When Isabella says that Catherine may have given John encouragement without meaning anything by it, she is mostly describing her own regret at having become engaged to James. When Isabella says that John may be just as happy without Catherine as with her, she is suggesting that James may never really have loved her as much as he thought he did. And when she says that she would not judge Catherine severely if Catherine led John on, she is suggesting that Catherine should be similarly lenient about forgiving her, if she ends up jilting James. Isabella still wants to keep Catherine as a friend, seemingly because she now hopes for them to both marry into the Tilney family.

Catherine does not agree with anything Isabella is saying, whether these ideas are to be applied to her situation with John, or more generally. Catherine has no concept of idle flirtations that do not lead to marriage. She would be even more horrified at the idea of someone dissolving an engagement after they met someone else richer or more attractive. Catherine, like Henry, is a deep believer in the importance of loyalty to love. This speech of Isabella’s, on the other hand, articulates the opposite theory: that love can be fleeting and commitments can be broken at a whim.

Volume 2, Chapter 11 Quotes

He went; and, it being at any time a much simpler operation to Catherine to doubt her own judgment than Henry's, she was very soon obliged to give him credit for being right, however disagreeable to her his going. But the inexplicability of the General's conduct dwelt much on her thoughts. That he was very particular in his eating, she had, by her own unassisted observation, already discovered; but why he should say one thing so positively, and mean another all the while, was most unaccountable! How were people, at that rate, to be understood? Who but Henry could have been aware of what his father was at?

Related Characters: Catherine Morland, Henry Tilney (Mr. Tilney), General Tilney
Page Number: 198
Explanation and Analysis:

Henry Tilney has left Northanger to return to his home at Woodston and prepare for a visit from his family and Catherine. The General said that they would come on Wednesday, but that Henry should not worry about providing them with an elaborate meal. Henry has nevertheless rushed off to prepare this meal, much to Catherine’s amazement. Although Catherine is progressing in her ability to assess people’s characters, she is still unable to see through most hypocrisy. Catherine wants to decode the General’s intentions, but is puzzled. For instance, the General’s children believe that there is no way he would support the marriage of Isabella and Frederick, because of Isabella’s small fortune. But Catherine cannot understand why Eleanor and Henry believe the General cares about money, because the General often speaks about how little money means to him, and, moreover, he obviously seems to want her and Henry to marry, although she herself has a small fortune. But the General also often talks about his modest taste in food, décor, and real estate, while Catherine has observed that he cares a great deal about these things. As Catherine meditates on the question of why the General says he does not care about food, while in reality he is extremely picky about it, the question of why he wants her to marry his son, if he cares so much about money and she has no large fortune, cannot be far from her thoughts. The fact that the General speaks hypocritically is becoming clear to Catherine, but what this means for her future with Henry remains a mystery to her.

Volume 2, Chapter 12 Quotes

“I am quite uneasy about your dear brother, not having heard from him since he went to Oxford; and am fearful of some misunderstanding. Your kind offices will set all right:—he is the only man I ever did or could love, and I trust you will convince him of it. The spring fashions are partly down; and the hats the most frightful you can imagine. I hope you spend your time pleasantly, but am afraid you never think of me. I will not say all that I could of the family you are with, because I would not be ungenerous, or set you against those you esteem; but it is very difficult to know whom to trust, and young men never know their minds two days together. I rejoice to say, that the young man whom, of all others, I particularly abhor, has left Bath. You will know, from this description, I must mean Captain Tilney, who, as you may remember, was amazingly disposed to follow and tease me, before you went away. Afterwards he got worse, and became quite my shadow. Many girls might have been taken in, for never were such attentions; but I knew the fickle sex too well. He went away to his regiment two days ago, and I trust I shall never be plagued with him again.”

Related Characters: Isabella Thorpe (speaker), Catherine Morland, James Morland, Frederick Tilney (Captain Tilney)
Related Symbols: Clothing
Page Number: 202-203
Explanation and Analysis:

Catherine has already heard from James that his marriage with Isabella has been called off, because she is presumably going to marry Frederick Tilney. Now, after it has become clear to Isabella that Frederick will not propose to her, she writes to enlist Catherine’s help to salvage her relationship with James. In this context, and set down in a letter where each statement can be carefully considered, Isabella’s true motivations could not be any more transparent. For instance, when Isabella writes that “many girls might have been taken in,” she suggests that, in her place, anyone would have believed that Frederick Tilney meant to marry her judging by how much attention he paid her. Logically, though, it would not matter if Frederick did or not deceive Isabella about his intention to marry, if Isabella truly loved James and wanted to marry him, as she says earlier in the letter. But Isabella cannot help bragging about how much attention she received from Frederick, which makes her hypocrisy even more glaring.

Isabella is right about one thing: Frederick was fickle. He never intended to marry her, only to lead her on. But when she describes all men as “the fickle sex,” after her disloyalty to James led to the breaking off of their engagement, it becomes clear that she is once again assigning faults to others that are actually her own.

Volume 2, Chapter 15 Quotes

The General, accustomed on every ordinary occasion to give the law in his family, prepared for no reluctance but of feeling, no opposing desire that should dare to clothe itself in words, could ill brook the opposition of his son, steady as the sanction of reason and the dictate of conscience could make it. But, in such a cause, his anger, though it must shock, could not intimidate Henry, who was sustained in his purpose by a conviction of its justice. He felt himself bound as much in honour as in affection to Miss Morland, and believing that heart to be his own which he had been directed to gain, no unworthy retraction of a tacit consent, no reversing decree of unjustifiable anger, could shake his fidelity, or influence the resolutions it prompted.

Related Characters: Catherine Morland, John Thorpe, Henry Tilney (Mr. Tilney), General Tilney
Page Number: 230-231
Explanation and Analysis:

General Tilney has expelled Catherine from Northanger Abbey after learning that she is not an heiress. He has told Henry to forget about marrying her, but Henry, to the General’s shock, is determined to defy his father. This fight between father and son represents a battle between wealth and true respectability. Henry has never before defied the General in this way, and likely always grew up imagining that he would marry a woman rich enough to please his father’s greedy vanity. But now the General has thrown out everything else that makes a gentleman a gentleman in his treatment of Catherine, defying the code of conduct that requires the proper supervision and care of a gentlewoman. For Henry, money may be important, but behaving honorably and respectably is more so.

As a true gentleman, Henry cares about his honor, which is bound up in remaining loyal to Catherine. He feels that by courting her and leading her to believe that he wanted to marry her, he has bound himself to her. Although there is not yet an explicit engagement between them, he knows that she loves him and that he and his father have given her every reason to believe that he will marry her. Her love and his encouragement of it demand his loyalty, even in the face of his father’s newfound disapproval.

Finally, as a hypocrite caught in his lies, the General does not want to accept the consequences of his mistake. Although the General said to Catherine that he did not care about money, he never expected to be forced to follow through on his many insincere declarations that he cared only for the happiness of his children. The General had hoped to set an example for Catherine, showing her that she should marry Henry even if she were richer than he was. Instead he will have to allow Henry to marry Catherine despite her relative lack of wealth.