Study Guide

Northanger Abbey Chapter 8

By Jane Austen

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Chapter 8

  • Time for another ball. Catherine arrives just after the Thorpes and James.
  • James wants to dance with Isabella but John has wandered off to play cards, leaving Catherine without a partner.
  • Isabella insists that she'll sit with Catherine for all of five seconds before she ditches her to go dance with James.
  • Catherine's cool with it and chills with Mrs. Thorpe and Mrs. Allen.
  • Catherine does wish she had a partner and didn't look like a wallflower, though.
  • Mr. Tilney shows back up. Catherine spots him with a woman she assumes to be his sister.
  • Henry comes over and chats with Mrs. Allen. He then asks Catherine to dance, but she has to refuse since she told John she'd dance with him.
  • John finally shows up to dance and talks about horses, dogs, etc.
  • Catherine can't find Isabella and is bummed out.
  • A Mrs. Hughes comes up and introduces Catherine to Miss Eleanor Tilney, Henry's younger sister, and asks if Catherine minds letting Eleanor into the set.
  • (Historical Content Lesson! Back in this era, dancing was done in sets or formations – men and women didn't waltz together or anything. Rather, they danced across from one another and people could kind of wander in and out of sets and chat with people around them.)
  • Miss Tilney is very mild mannered, poised, and polite. She and Catherine strike up an acquaintance. Catherine does most of the talking.
  • Isabella descends and scolds Catherine for not finding her sooner. Isabella proceeds to tell Catherine how she has been scolding James and is basically very flirty and flighty.
  • Catherine points out Eleanor and Henry to Isabella.
  • James and Isabella flirt some more and then Isabella refuses to dance with James again, saying it would look bad. She decides to dance with James anyway after all of two seconds though. Isabella needs to work on her playing hard to get tactics.
  • Catherine goes off to find Henry again but he's already dancing with someone else. Catherine is bummed.
  • John pops back up but Catherine says she's tired and won't dance again.
  • Catherine is bored for the rest of the evening and she still never got to dance with Henry.

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