Northanger Abbey - Study Guide Chapters 9 and 10 Summary & Analysis

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Chapters 9 and 10 Summary

In the morning Catherine wonders how she may become better acquainted with Eleanor but then Isabella, John, and James arrive at the Allens' apartment. They pressure Catherine into taking a carriage ride. James drives Isabella and John drives Catherine. Throughout the ride John maintains a blustering monologue about his own putatively magnificent abilities, vast wealth, and worldly charm. Catherine is bewildered by his self-centeredness and his numerous contradictions. By the time the drive concludes, Catherine finds John not entirely agreeable in character. Catherine is further dismayed to learn that during her unpleasant outing, Mr. Allen has run into the Tilney family and has made the acquaintance of General Tilney, Henry's distinguished father.

A few days later Catherine engages Eleanor in conversation at the Pump Room. She is accompanied by Isabella and John, though the two are hardly aware of her presence—amazingly, the naïve Catherine has still not guessed at the burgeoning relationship between her brother and her friend. Catherine praises Henry's skill at dancing to Eleanor and the older woman quickly grasps Catherine's deeper meaning although Catherine believes herself to have been entirely discreet. Catherine and Eleanor seem to have much more in common than Isabella, who remains distracted and scatter-brained. That night Catherine attends the dances and manages to avoid John, meet Henry, and dance with the object of her infatuation. John acts quite a boor, however, by barging into Henry and Catherine's dance and rudely and stupidly attempting to sell Henry a horse, and in general behaving like a lout. Even so, Catherine and Henry manage to enjoy a few dances which Henry humorously compares to marriage. Catherine sees a very distinguished and handsome man observing her and Henry tells her it is his father, General Tilney. At the end of the evening Catherine delightedly accepts an invitation from Eleanor to have an afternoon walk around the town, accompanied by Henry.

Chapters 9 and 10 Analysis

Catherine withstands a carriage ride with John through the country though she finds it disagreeable. The garrulous John is presented as little more than an idiot for most of the voyage, contradicting himself nearly with every sentence and making very little sense beside. Even Catherine's patience is tried by John's never-ceasing monologue of self-praise, though of course she remains polite to a fault. The third-person point of view used for the novel here allows Catherine to be presented as nearly a saint in her perseverance on behalf of her friend and brother in the other carriage. In latter chapters, the memory of the disagreeable carriage ride will prevent Catherine from accepting further rides without enticement.

The second chapter continues to develop the tension between John and Henry as potential suitors. Catherine has no social means of properly accessing Henry directly, so her only course of action is to befriend Eleanor. Catherine sets about this with a single-minded purpose; clearly a trait of a heroine. Catherine attempts to discreetly inquire about Henry in her discussions with Eleanor. The older—and much more insightful—Eleanor quickly deduces Catherine's purpose. Henry soon enters the scene again and, as before, Catherine's desires are thwarted by John's self-aggrandizing behavior. This section of the novel features a considerable amount of discussion about clothing and styles, and is notably rich in literary merit. The walk which Catherine and Eleanor arrange will not go as planned, and the incident, described in subsequent chapters, is a major turning point in the novel.

This section contains 569 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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