Northanger Abbey

Northanger Abbey

Northanger Abbey Volume 2, Chapter 7 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
When she wakes the next morning, Catherine rushes to look at the manuscript she had found. To her disappointment, it is a laundry bill. She feels that her fantasies about the chest and cabinet were absurd, especially given how modern the furnishings are in the room. She thinks that she would be very embarrassed if Henry Tilney were to find out how carried away she has been. Catherine goes into the breakfast room and finds Henry Tilney alone. He hints that perhaps the storm terrified her. Not wanting to lie, she confesses that it kept her awake a little bit, but that she is happy that the morning is bright.
Once again, the modern furnishings of Northanger make Catherine feel that nothing out-of-the-ordinary or sinister could happen here. Catherine knows that she is letting herself get carried away, and thinks Henry will find it ridiculous if he knows how swept up in these fantasies she allowed herself to get. For his part, Henry finds Catherine’s deep fascination with Gothic novels and her desire to uncover one in his childhood home amusing.
Themes
Novels and the Heroine Theme Icon
Sincerity and Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Experience and Innocence Theme Icon
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 a taste for flowers is good for women because it tempts them to spend time outdoors, and Catherine replies that she already loves to be outdoors. Henry replies that he appreciates that she has “a habit of learning to love” and “a teachableness of disposition.”
Although the topic they are discussing is a trivial one, Henry articulates two of the things he truly values in Catherine: her ability to show sincere affection and loyal love, and her ability to learn and grow. He has already taught her about how to draw a landscape, and now he’s glad to hear that she’s learning from his sister as well.
Themes
Sincerity and Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Experience and Innocence Theme Icon
Loyalty and Love Theme Icon
The General arrives to breakfast. When Catherine compliments the beauty of the breakfast plates, the General says he does what he can to support English manufacturing, and that he was tempted recently to buy an even newer set, but did not because he has no vanity about his possessions. He says he hopes to soon have an opportunity of selecting a new set of china, but not for himself. Everyone but Catherine understands this hint.
The General hints that he wants to pick out plates for Henry and Catherine once they are engaged. In saying that he has no vanity about his possessions, the General once again shows his hypocrisy—he is clearly very proud of his possessions and wants Catherine to admire them at every opportunity.
Themes
Sincerity and Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Wealth and Respectability Theme Icon
Experience and Innocence Theme Icon
Henry prepares to leave for Woodston and they all gather 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 General then tells Catherine that Henry’s income does not depend solely on his living, although that income is rather large. Although none of his children need to work for money, the General says he thinks that it’s good for them to have employment. He is trying to impress Catherine, and he does: she says nothing in reply.
The General’s speeches about money, employment, and properties, like John Thorpe’s talk about his horse and carriage, are meant to impress Catherine with how rich he is. Catherine knows very little about the cost of things, but she must know that her own father does not only work to have something to do, but to have an income.
Themes
Wealth and Respectability Theme Icon
Get the entire Northanger Abbey LitChart as a printable PDF.
Northanger abbey.pdf.medium
The General offers to give a tour of Northanger, and Catherine gladly accepts. The General says that he can see she may prefer looking 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 not know what is picturesque. She tells Eleanor that the General does not need to take them on a walk now just because he believes her to want to go on a walk, when in fact she wants to tour the property. Eleanor, slightly embarrassed at having to explain her father’s true motives, tells Catherine that her father always walks at this time of day. Catherine thinks it odd that the General takes walks so early, and wonders if he is reluctant to show her around the Abbey.
The General, much like Isabella Thorpe, has a hypocritical way of attributing his own desires to other people so that he can then act as if he is graciously complying with their wishes, instead of selfishly doing exactly what he wants. Here, he offered Catherine a tour, then realized it was time for his daily walk, and pretended that she seemed as if she wanted to walk. Catherine continues to expect sincerity from those around her, and puts Eleanor in the uncomfortable position of having to explain the General’s slippery behavior.
Themes
Sincerity and Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Seeing the Abbey from the lawn, Catherine praises it enthusiastically, to the General’s pleasure. Catherine is shocked by the size of the garden, and the General proudly says gardening is his hobby. He adds that although he does not care much about the quality of food, he loves good fruit. The General asks Catherine how his own possessions compare to Mr. Allen’s, and is satisfied to hear that his outstrip the latter’s.
Once again, when the General denies caring about something, it can be predicted that he cares a great deal. He sees both the landscaping of his grounds and the quality of food on his table as reflections of his own wealth and good taste.
Themes
Sincerity and Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Wealth and Respectability Theme Icon
Eleanor starts down a path, but the General says it is too cold and damp. Catherine goes with Eleanor, but the General decides to take a sunnier route and meet them at the tea-house. Catherine feels relieved in his absence and talks gaily to Eleanor about the “delightful melancholy” of the path. Eleanor tells her it was her mother’s favorite walk, and says that she misses her mother terribly, especially because she has no sister. Although Henry visits often, she is often alone. Catherine remarks that Eleanor must miss Henry very much, and Eleanor says that she does, but a mother would have always been there.
Eleanor seeks to confide to Catherine that she is lonely, just as Henry had to told Catherine on the drive from Bath to Northanger. But Catherine, despite her good-nature, is still not always capable of understanding another person’s feelings. Eleanor misses her mother and female companionship in general, but Catherine, who has many brothers and sisters, can only imagine missing Henry, not true loneliness.
Themes
Sincerity and Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Experience and Innocence Theme Icon
Catherine begins to question Eleanor about her mother, asking if she was charming and beautiful, and if she liked this grove because she was depressed. Eleanor chooses not to answer Catherine’s more prying questions, but Catherine forms a theory that the late Mrs. Tilney had been unhappy in marriage. She sees proof for this conjecture in the fact that the General does not love his late wife’s favorite path. Catherine asks if Mrs. Tilney’s picture hangs in the General’s room, and Eleanor says that her father was dissatisfied with the painting, which she has hung in her own room. Catherine then feels an aversion towards the General: he was clearly cruel to his charming wife. When they meet the General again, Catherine finds it hard to be pleasant. The General worries that Catherine may have overexerted herself and sends her back to rest, but instructs Eleanor to wait for him to tour the Abbey.
Catherine was unable to trust her own perceptions and form a negative judgment of the General when she first met him. She now swings to the other extreme, assuming he is a tyrant who made his wonderful wife’s life miserable. This idea does not come out of nowhere: in The Mysteries of Udolpho, the villain Signor Montoni brings about his wife’s death by mistreating her. Catherine can seemingly only conceive of the world as split into two camps: the humdrum and morally perfect people she knows, and the dramatic, potentially evil characters to be found in Gothic novels. She now decides that the General may fall into the latter camp.
Themes
Novels and the Heroine Theme Icon