Study Guide

Northanger Abbey Chapter 18

By Jane Austen

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Chapter 18

  • Catherine is so thrilled by her upcoming trip that she doesn't notice she hasn't seen Isabella lately.
  • The two friends meet up at the Pump-room to catch up.
  • Isabella seems distracted though and Catherine assumes she misses James.
  • Isabella denies this and insists she's cool. She asks Catherine about her Northanger Abbey trip.
  • Isabella then lets Catherine know about her letter from John. She says that Catherine can probably guess what it's about.
  • Catherine cannot, of course.
  • Isabella chastises Catherine for feigning ignorance and insists that John's attentions to her were really, really obvious. Only a doofus could have missed them. Or someone as naive as Catherine.
  • Catherine is upset and denies that he was paying her attention. She's had no idea that he was thinking of proposing to her. She doesn't even remember the day when he did kind of propose.
  • Isabella is silent during this.
  • Catherine tries to reassure her, saying that they'll still be sisters since Isabella will marry James.
  • Isabella is awkward and says that there's more than one way of being sisters. That's a bit suspicious.
  • Isabella quickly changes tactics and tells Catherine that she doesn't blame her for the whole John mix up. She thinks that John was being dumb anyway, since neither of them have any money, and marriages don't work without money.
  • Isabella then gives a spiel about being young and having the right to change your mind and warns Catherine about rushing into romantic commitments and taking her time, which clearly has nothing to do with Isabella at all. Oh wait.
  • Suddenly Captain Tilney walks in and comes right up to Isabella and Catherine.
  • He and Isabella start flirting in a borderline scandalous (for nineteenth century England) way.
  • Catherine is shocked. She tries to get Isabella to come away with her, but Isabella stays put. Catherine tries to believe that Isabella is unconsciously encouraging Captain Tilney.
  • Catherine goes home disturbed about the John thing and about Isabella's behavior.

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