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Northanger Abbey - Chapters 24 and 25 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.
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Chapters 24 and 25 Summary

On Sunday morning Catherine accompanies the Tilneys to church services where she sees a memorial of Mrs. Tilney on the family pew. Instead of causing her to realize her fantastic theories are spurious, the memorial appears to Catherine to confirm General Tilney's murderous guilt. On Monday, General Tilney goes for a walk around the grounds and Catherine asks Eleanor to escort her to the late Mrs. Tilney's chambers. Eleanor agrees, but just as they begin to enter General Tilney unexpectedly calls out to Eleanor. Catherine guiltily flees to her own chamber and awaits the General's suspected momentary wrath. It never comes—instead, General Tilney has called to Eleanor to receive some unexpected guests. Using the visitors as a distraction, Catherine again attempts to enter the late Mrs. Tilney's chambers to inspect them for clues to the purported Gothic mystery. She is flabbergasted to discern that the rooms contain absolutely nothing out of the ordinary. Disappointed yet still convinced that General Tilney must be wicked and perverse, Catherine retreats from the singularly non-mysterious rooms but is intercepted by Henry, momentarily returned from Woodston.

Confronted with her beloved, Catherine confesses her morbid theory to Henry. Henry finds Catherine's flight of fancy amusing but a little disturbing. He completes the story of his mother's death, making Catherine realize that she has mistakenly interpreted all of the facts at her disposal. Nothing mysterious abounds, and no wicked Gothic plot of imprisonment or murder ever occurred. Catherine, embarrassed and ashamed, flees to her chamber in tears. She is certain that her ridiculous accusations have ended all possibilities of romance with Henry. When Catherine descends to dinner, however, she finds Henry entirely unaffected by her recent disclosure. She realizes the full extent of her self-created delusions and internally blames her flight of morbid fancy upon the Gothic novels she has lately been reading. After some hours, Catherine analyzes her own strange behavior and determines to put it in the past. Henry never again mentions it.

Some days later Catherine receives a sad letter from James, informing her that his engagement with Isabella is broken off. The letter heavily insinuates that Isabella is now engaged to Captain Tilney. Catherine is devastated and shares the news with Henry and Eleanor—she weeps for James but finds the loss of Isabella rather inconsequential. Henry calms her and discreetly suggests that James's loss of Isabella is perhaps rather fortunate. Henry and Eleanor rather doubt that Captain Tilney is factually engaged, but if he is they both view it with incredulity.

Chapters 24 and 25 Analysis

Catherine continues to imagine her Gothic plot until her frenzy culminates in a snooping expedition through the house while the Tilneys entertain other guests. She is caught snooping by Henry who returns to visit her. She confesses her suppositions, apparently expecting to somehow enlighten Henry. Instead, he dismisses her wild speculations, provides the solid facts about his mother's death, and sets her to rights. Notice how level-headed and accepting Henry is portrayed as being—never again will he mention Catherine's bizarre notion. After a brief period of agitation, Catherine ponders her behavior and realizes how foolish she has been. This completes the major theme within the novel of the Gothic novel being compared, unfavorably, to real life.

The chapter also introduces a narrative construction technique by including the text of a letter from James which Catherine receives. The letter informs her of recent developments which must have transpired while Catherine was engaged with her friends at Northanger Abbey. As expected—indeed, as predicted by Henry—Isabella has dismissed James in favor of the much wealthier and more influential Captain Tilney. James, apparently as naïve as Catherine, believes Captain Tilney has offered his hand in marriage to Isabella and conveys this information in his letter. This fact alone causes Henry some trepidation. He realizes that his class-conscious father will never approve of such a union. Henry's unvoiced supposition is that his older brother is simply playing a game of lechery; in this as in nearly all things, Henry is exactly right.

This section contains 686 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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