Northanger Abbey

Northanger Abbey

Northanger Abbey Volume 1, Chapter 13 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Walking on the Crescent, Isabella and James decide that, tomorrow, they should continue their carriage ride 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 she has just planned with Miss Tilney to take their delayed walk tomorrow. Isabella urges her to put off her walk with Miss Tilney and go with them. Catherine refuses repeatedly. Isabella says that the Tilneys now swallow up all of Catherine’s attention, and Catherine thinks it is very unkind of Isabella to draw everyone’s attention to her feelings for Mr. Tilney.
Unlike Henry Tilney, the Thorpes do not see commitments as unbreakable promises, but hope to opportunistically shape events for their convenience. Isabella suggests that Catherine is disloyally placing newer friends above older ones, hinting that Catherine does this because she has feelings for Mr. Tilney. Revealing Catherine’s secret is, of course, an act of disloyalty.
Themes
Loyalty and Love Theme Icon
James also begs Catherine to reconsider, saying she can hardly hold out so stubbornly when “such a friend” asks her to go. Catherine proposes a compromise, saying that they can all go in two days, but they say that John may want to go to town that day. Isabella says that she cannot go if Catherine will not; she cannot be the only woman. Catherine suggests that one of Isabella’s sisters accompany her, but John Thorpe’s rejoinder is that “he did not come to Bath to drive my sisters about, and look like a fool.” Catherine says she must do what she thinks is right, and Isabella says that she suspects it is not very hard for Catherine to choose the Tilneys over them. Catherine’s arm had been linked with Isabella’s, but now she draws her arm away, and they continue to walk in uncomfortable silence.
The fact that James is under the Thorpes’ sway and demands that Catherine change her plans to suit them makes the situation even more difficult for her, as Catherine believes she should be loyal to her brother. Catherine sincerely wishes to do what is right and will not change her plans because she thinks it is wrong, but Isabella tries to frame Catherine’s refusal to meet her own selfish demand as an act of selfishness. For someone as conscientious about trying to do what is right as Catherine, this is a weighty accusation.
Themes
Sincerity and Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Loyalty and Love Theme Icon
John, who 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 walk until Tuesday, and that Miss Tilney agreed. James and Isabella are glad to hear this, but Catherine says she will go after the Tilneys and change their walk back to Monday and that she refuses to be tricked into doing something she thinks is wrong. Isabella and John grab her arms to keep her from running away, but she breaks free. John wants to follow her, but James says to let her go.
This is a turning point for Catherine. Earlier, she had been unsure in her own judgment of these situations, but now she trusts her own judgment and resolutely sticks to her decision to take her walk with the Tilneys as planned. The instance also reveals how easily John Thorpe lies. The fact that the Thorpes physically grab Catherine further proves how little they care about how they behave so long as they get their way.
Themes
Sincerity and Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Wealth and Respectability Theme Icon
Experience and Innocence Theme Icon
Catherine runs to the Tilneys’ lodgings and bursts in without waiting to be shown 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 just agreed to take. General Tilney is angry at the servant for not having shown her in properly, but Catherine assures him that it was her own fault. He asks her to stay and spend the rest of the day with his daughter. Catherine says that she must go home to the Allens, but promises to come a different day. The General walks her out, giving her many compliments, and bowing to her gracefully.
In her eagerness to tell the Tilneys that she did not mean to break their date a second time, Catherine breaks with the normal etiquette by running in without being announced by a servant. While Catherine cares about following etiquette, doing the right thing and showing her good intentions is more important to her. The General’s anger with his servant shows that he is very concerned with the rules of conduct that guide behavior among people of his class.
Themes
Sincerity and Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Wealth and Respectability Theme Icon
Loyalty and Love Theme Icon
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Now that she has escaped being forced to take the drive, Catherine feels a bit guilty towards her brother and friends. She tells Mr. Allen about the Thorpes’ plan, to see what he thinks of it, and he says that he is glad that she does not plan on going, as it is improper for young men and women to take drives and visit inns together. He asks Mrs. Allen if she agrees with him that it is improper, and she says she does. In agitation, Catherine asks Mrs. Allen why she did not stop her from going on the first carriage ride then. Mr. Allen says no harm has been done, but that Catherine should not drive with John Thorpe any more. Catherine begins to worry about Isabella. She asks Mr. Allen whether she ought to warn Isabella that she is doing something improper, but Mr. Allen says that Isabella is old enough to decide for herself and has a mother to advise her. If Catherine interferes, he says, she may cause ill-will. Catherine is very satisfied to have learned that these drives were a bad idea: she reflects that, had she gone, she would have been breaking her promise to the Tilneys in order to do something improper.
This is another important moment for Catherine in learning that she cannot always trust others to advise her. When John Thorpe asked her to ride in his carriage, her first instinct was that it might not be proper behavior for a well-mannered gentlewoman. She allowed herself to be persuaded by the Thorpes and was convinced that she would not be doing anything inappropriate because Mrs. Allen gave her permission. But Mrs. Allen, despite her greater age and experience, is incapable of making such judgments and always agrees with the person she is speaking to at that moment. Catherine still does not realize that everyone must make their own judgments in such situations, however, because she still believes it impossible that Isabella is knowingly acting in an improper or immodest way.
Themes
Sincerity and Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Wealth and Respectability Theme Icon
Experience and Innocence Theme Icon