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Northanger Abbey - Chapters 7 and 8 Summary & Analysis

This Study Guide consists of approximately 50 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Northanger Abbey.
This section contains 613 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)

Chapters 7 and 8 Summary

Catherine protests that Isabella's route must surely bring them into contact with the two insolent young men whom Isabella claims she is determined to avoid. Isabella ignores Catherine's observations, falsely insisting she is fleeing from the men, and continues to pursue them down the street in a socially improper manner. Their momentary meeting is avoided when the two women meet by happenstance their two brothers—James Morland and John Thorpe. It develops that James and John are fast friends from school and that James and Isabella are in love and nearly engaged, though Catherine does not yet know this. Catherine is amazed at their circumstantial meeting and overjoyed with meeting her beloved older brother whom she supposes has come to Bath to visit her. The four young people spend much time in conversation, though the infatuated James and Isabella are generally unaware of John and Catherine. James broadly hints at his infatuation with Isabella but Catherine does not understand him. Catherine then spends the evening reading novels before attending the nightly dance.

At the dance Catherine is naturally paired with John, though he quickly deserts her for the card room. James and Isabella desert Catherine for the dance floor. The solitary Catherine sits, downcast, hoping that John will shortly return and dance with her. Then Henry appears with his sister Eleanor. Catherine is delighted to speak to Henry but must decline his invitation to dance as she is awaiting John's return. John eventually returns and dances with Catherine but she finds him fairly irritating in manner. Again, John quickly deserts Catherine. Throughout nearly the remainder of the evening Catherine dejectedly joins Mrs. Allen and Mrs. Thorpe as Isabella and James dance, John plays at cards, and Henry is not to be seen. At the end of the evening Henry again approaches Catherine but John momentarily appears and Henry withdraws. Catherine excuses herself somewhat early and returns home.

Chapters 7 and 8 Analysis

The chapters continue the plot development and provide additional characterization of Catherine and Isabella. While Isabella states one course of action, she pursues another entirely. Catherine views this as confusing but does not suspect that Isabella is generally false. Their pursuit of the two young men is interrupted by the appearance of both of their brothers—friends, as it develops—in what is the least believable "coincidence" in the narrative development. James Morland is Catherine's older brother and, throughout the narrative, he is nearly entirely oblivious to Catherine's situation. To be fair, James is addled by his feverish desire of Isabella and her putative reciprocity. Anyone but Catherine would easily determine James and Isabella are pursuing an affectionate relationship. John Thorpe, also introduced during this section of the novel, is one of the more humorous, if stereotyped, characters presented. He is obviously a swaggering braggart without substance, and nearly everything he says he says loudly and in such a way as to make it nearly nonsensical. Even the polite Catherine soon finds him tiring and even irritating—though as usual she does not identify his laughably brusque attempts at flirting for what they are.

The next chapter focuses on an evening at the dances. John and Catherine are naturally paired, but John deserts her frequently for the card room. Catherine again meets Henry and finds him very agreeable company but is prevented from spending much time with him by John's constant but ephemeral appearances. The narrative tension between Catherine, John, and Henry—a sort of lopsided love triangle—continues to build through the first chapters of the novel and will not be fully resolved until the end of the narrative.

This section contains 613 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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