Northanger Abbey - Chapters 11 and 12 Summary & Analysis

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Catherine is distraught to find the next morning overcast and rainy. Mrs. Allen suggests the day is notably unsuitable for a walk around town and Catherine fears she will not get to walk with Eleanor and Henry. While she waits, Isabella, James, and John appear and request her to once again go driving with them. Catherine refuses, noting she is still hoping Eleanor and Henry will arrive. John then concocts a false story about having seen Henry leaving town earlier in the day and promises Catherine they will visit a remote castle on their drive. Catherine believes the castle will be much like an adventure in her Gothic novels and, as she believes Henry to be out of town, agrees.

No sooner does she board the carriage, however, than she sees Eleanor and Henry walking down the street toward the Allens' apartment. She cries to John to let her down but he drives the horses forward with gusto. Eleanor and Henry watch Catherine drive by with surprise—Catherine begs John to stop but he will not, and she forlornly watches her new friends recede into the distance. The remainder of the day is spent in a long ride while John delivers a lengthy monologue full of vapid blustering and posturing—no castle is visited and Catherine is distraught about what Eleanor will think of her. In the evening the four young people spend their time at the Thorpe's apartment. James and Isabella paw each other while Catherine frets.

In the morning a resolute Catherine attempts to visit the Tilney residence to explain to Eleanor what had happened. She is informed that Eleanor is away—but moments later she spies Eleanor quickly leaving the apartment. That evening Catherine attends the theater and sees Henry, though he appears to deliberately ignore her. Nevertheless, after the show Henry calls on Catherine. She explains herself to him and he is greatly relieved. Henry seems particularly happy to hear Catherine's indifference to John. While Henry and Catherine exchange pleasantries, she noticed that across the theater John is speaking with General Tilney. Later, John confides in Catherine that General Tilney is very impressed with her.

The rainy weather of the day threatens to make Catherine's planned walk impossible. Mrs. Allen feels the mud is unbearable, though the tomboyish Catherine would not mind it if she were able to walk with Henry. In fact, Henry apparently would not mind it if he were able to walk with Catherine, his young and beautiful admirer. But they are prevented by enjoying one another's company by—who else?—the antagonist John. John, James, and Isabella appear to take Catherine on another drive. Catherine demurs until John tells blatant lies, making Catherine doubt Henry's intentions. John also promises a visit to a castle. Catherine desires to see a castle such as is featured in her novels and, led on also by the lies, allows herself to be tempted out for another agonizing day in the company of John. She learns she has been deceived almost immediately by passing Henry on the street, but by then the selfish John has her captive in a moving carriage. Later, Mr. Allen confirms the reader's suspicions that the proposed castle is far more distant than possible in a single day's touring drive. John's fabrications are of the whole cloth. Once again, the carriage ride is disagreeable and pointless for Catherine. John somehow manages to interpret her silent reticence as admiration.

Catherine's heroic character is again manifested in the morning when she goes directly to Eleanor's rented house with the intent of explaining herself to her new friend. By chance, Eleanor must shortly leave and Catherine is thus prevented from making amends. The narrative development of Catherine and Henry's relationship appears to be stalled at this point, though momentary developments prove it is not. Henry approaches Catherine directly and the difficult situation is explained and reversed. Plans are again made for the following day.

This section contains 663 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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