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Northanger Abbey

Jane Austen

Volume I, Chapters IX & X

Volume I, Chapters VII & VIII

Volume I, Chapters IX & X, page 2

page 1 of 2

Chapter IX

Catherine wakes with the intention of becoming better acquainted with Eleanor Tilney. Before she has the chance, however, John Thorpe arrives at the Allens' with his sister Isabella and Catherine's brother James. The trio pressure Catherine into joining them for a carriage ride—James and Isabella in one carriage, and Catherine and John in the other. During the carriage ride, Catherine attempts to divert John's self- interested monologue, but always fails. She is particularly perplexed by his tendency to exaggerate. One minute he claims that James's carriage is far inferior to John's own and is about to break apart; the next minute, to quiet Catherine's alarm, he claims James's carriage is more than solid enough for the trip. Having been raised by straightforward parents, Catherine is perplexed by John's manipulations, as she is by those of his sister. Still, she decides that despite her brother's approval of John, she does not find John "entirely agreeable."

The group returns to the Allens', and Isabella protests that their trip could not have been three hours long because the time flew by so pleasantly. Catherine speaks to Mrs. Allen and discovers that Henry's father (General Tilney) is in town. Catherine decides that had she known Mrs. Allen was going to run into the Tilneys, she would not have gone on the carriage ride.

Chapter X

Catherine, James, the Allens, and the Thorpes go to the theater. Isabella is her tiresome self, talking Catherine's head off. Isabella chats senselessly about her time with James on the carriage trip. She cannot believe that Catherine is still oblivious to the romance developing between Isabella and James.

The next day, Catherine heads to the Pump-room, a social meeting place, with the intention of finding Eleanor Tilney and becoming better acquainted with her. She spends some time with James and Isabella but gets sick of their whispering, giggling talk (she still hasn't caught on to their flirtation). Catherine finally gets her desired meeting with Eleanor. The two seem to be more similar than Catherine and Isabella are. During the course of the conversation, Catherine praises Henry's dancing skills, asks who he had been dancing with the previous night, and even asks if Eleanor thought Henry's dancing partner was pretty. By the time the two separate, Eleanor is aware that Catherine likes Henry, although Catherine is unaware that she has revealed this.

The following night, Catherine excitedly prepares for the ball, hoping to meet Henry there. She successfully avoids John Thorpe until Henry arrives and asks her to dance. Just as the dance starts, John finds her and acts a bit annoyed. John is not worried when he finds Catherine is dancing with Henry Tilney, for he is sure that Catherine could not like any man but himself. He asks whether Henry might be interested in buying a horse. The dance pulls Catherine away, but Henry meets her once more, indignant at John Thorpe's behavior. He suggests to Catherine that dancing is like a brief marriage, with a set of responsibilities on both sides for the duration of the dance. Catherine does not entirely accept this theory, but she sees his point. Henry tells her not to be so enchanted with Bath, saying eventually she will tire of it. Before the dance ends, he points out his father, General Tilney. The chapter ends with Henry and Eleanor arranging to meet Catherine for a walk the next day, much to Catherine's delight.


In these chapters, Catherine begins to make judgments of character at last, even grasping the odiousness of John. The ride with John is predictable. He blathers about his own business, never asking for any opinions from Catherine, expecting only exclamations of wonder or praise. In his egotism, John is as blind to Catherine's indifference toward him as Catherine is unaware of the imminent engagement of James and Isabella, who are flirting in the carriage behind them. Finally, after a carriage ride which would have driven most to a frenzy of irritation, Catherine decides she does not like John Thorpe much, despite his kinship with Isabella and the praises of James. Catherine is not perceptive about motives, or she would understand that Isabella and James praise John to her because they are hoping that she and John will fall in love.

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