Northanger Abbey

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Northanger Abbey Volume 1, Chapter 11 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The next morning it looks like it will rain, and Catherine anxiously monitors the weather, appealing to Mr. Allen and Mrs. Allen for their opinion on whether it will rain, if it will stop raining, and if the Tilneys are likely to keep their date to go on a walk despite the rain. It stops raining and Catherine is wondering whether the Tilneys will still come for their walk, when Isabella, John, and James arrive in two carriages. Catherine declares that she cannot go on a ride with them, but must wait to see if the Tilneys will come. John, however, rushes in telling her to get ready quickly, but she says she cannot go, because she is expecting the Tilneys.
Catherine is unsure whether the Tilneys will keep their date despite the rain, and anxious to see whether their commitment to spend time with her will hold despite the day being less than ideal for a country walk. For her part, she feels sure that she must wait at home to see if they come because she has made a prior commitment to them. Furthermore, her last ride with John Thorpe was unenjoyable and got in her way of spending time with the Tilneys.
Themes
Loyalty and Love Theme Icon
John objects that she should come anyway, and then Isabella comes in to encourage her. Isabella says that she and James had the idea at the exact same moment that morning and would have gone earlier if it had not been for the rain, but that they will be able to go to Clifton and on to Kingsweston. James says he doubts they will have time for that much, but John says they will be able to do even more, going also to Blaize Castle. Catherine asks if Blaize Castle is an old building and like the castles one reads about in books, and John assures her it is. Catherine says she would like to go, but repeats that she cannot because she expects the Tilneys.
Isabella is continuing to draw attention to how perfectly matched she and James are. Despite being under the Thorpes’ influence, James never falls for John’s exaggerated views of how far they can travel in their carriages and realizes that Blaize Castle is too far away for them to reach that day. Catherine, however, is swayed by the inducement of seeing an old building like those in a gothic novel.
Themes
Novels and the Heroine Theme Icon
Sincerity and Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Loyalty and Love Theme Icon
John then says that he saw the Tilneys driving in a carriage out of town, so they could not be coming to see Catherine. Catherine says the Tilneys must have decided it was too muddy from the rain, but perhaps they will come back once it becomes drier. John says he heard Tilney telling a man that they were going out of town. Catherine appeals to Mrs. Allen, who says she may go riding with the Thorpes and her brother.
If John Thorpe really had seen the Tilneys leaving town, he would have said so earlier in the conversation. But despite having seen how John Thorpe can lie in order to get what he wants or produce an effect, Catherine is still too inexperienced with dishonesty to question him here.
Themes
Sincerity and Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Experience and Innocence Theme Icon
In the carriage, Catherine looks forward to seeing an old building like the one in Udolpho, but feels hurt that the Tilneys gave up so easily on taking a walk with her. John sees a girl look at 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 so that she can go back to the Tilneys, but John only makes his horse run faster, despite her protestations and anger that he had lied to her about having seen them leave town. John says the man he saw looked just like Tilney and does not stop. Eventually, Catherine is forced to accept that she cannot escape the moving carriage.
Catherine feels that the Tilneys must not care very much for her, if they let this small amount of rain get in the way of seeing her. When she sees the Tilneys in the street, she realizes that they will probably think that she does not care much for them, since she did not even wait to see if they would come. John’s behavior continues to grow increasingly rude and even frightening, as here he essentially forces Catherine to accompany him against her will. Now all she can do is hope that Blaize Castle provides a consolation.
Themes
Novels and the Heroine Theme Icon
Sincerity and Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Loyalty and Love Theme Icon
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Catherine is still angry, however, and does not to talk with John during their drive. She feels she would much rather not have disappointed the Tilneys no matter how thrilling the castle is. Still she looks forward to seeing this old building. After about an hour, James pulls up and says that they must go back: they have only driven seven miles and it is too late to continue. John is angry, but they turn back. He says that James ought to keep a better horse and gig, because his slow horse held them up. Catherine responds that certainly James should not keep a horse and gig, because he cannot afford it. John replies that it is James’s fault if, despite having so much money, he cannot afford a gig. Catherine does not try to understand what John means, and instead stops talking to him.
Blaize Castle was built only a few years before Northanger Abbey was written, so it is yet another manipulation of John’s to tell Catherine it is an old building. John has also once again exaggerated his horse’s capacities and is angry at having this made clear by James. He blames the delay on James in such a way that he reveals his belief that James is rich. Catherine is so indifferent to John Thorpe’s opinions that she does not stop to wonder why he thinks James is rich or what this suggests about her own relationship to the Thorpes.
Themes
Novels and the Heroine Theme Icon
Sincerity and Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Wealth and Respectability Theme Icon
When Catherine returns to the Allens’, she learns from the footman that the Tilneys called for her, and when they were told she had left with the Thorpes, asked if she had left a note. Catherine is filled with regret. That evening Isabella seems undisturbed by the fact that they did not make it to their destination. Catherine feels that Isabella is not very concerned with Catherine’s unhappiness. Isabella, however, blames the Tilneys for having let the bad weather make them late and says she and John would never have kept Catherine waiting in that way.
Isabella compares herself and her brother to the Tilneys, saying they would be more loyal to Catherine, despite showing no sensitivity to Catherine’s unhappiness about the course the day took or to the fact that John ruined Catherine’s plans. This is another instance in which Isabella lets Catherine down, although Catherine has yet to admit to herself that Isabella is not as good a friend as she once believed.
Themes
Sincerity and Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Loyalty and Love Theme Icon