This week we are discussing volume 1, chapters 8-15.
By the end of this section, all of our characters have been fully introduced. As has, what I consider to be, a subplot. What do I mean? I mean Ann Radcliffe’s The Mysteries of Udolpho. I am linking out to the Wikipedia entry about the book so you can read about it specifically. I have never read Radcliffe before, but I have read the Brontes. They, like Radcliffe, are Gothic writers. Like Austen, these women were writing in the Regency era, but in two very different genres. Think of it as being a fan of Ann Rice and being a fan of Toni Morrison. Any reader can like both, but you get very different reading experiences. Actually, Ann Rice is pretty much modern Gothic. I have seen some people compare Twilight to Ann Radcliffe, but I am not sure if I totally agree. It is Northanger Abbey that always makes me want to read The Mysteries of Udolpho. I am not sure why I never do.
Isabella and John Thorpe’s relationship with Catherine could easily be compared to the relationship Catherine has with Henry and Eleanor Tilney. The Thorpe’s seek, for whatever reason, to claim all of Catherine’s time. Time that Catherine would rather spend with the Tilneys. They lie to her, go behind her back to manipulate situations to their advantage, and they even seem to have her own brother agreeing with them. The Tilneys on the other hand… well, it is clearer when you have lived in the world, the behavior of the entire family is odd considering what we know of Catherine’s perspective of the world. While Eleanor and Henry are wonderful on their own, their father clearly makes them tense and is oddly accommodating.
I am often irritated with Catherine for now putting aside the Thropes when they clearly annoy her, but I often have to remind myself that she is bound by society’s rules. Her brother wants to spend time with them and she isn’t close with the Tilney’s at this point in the story. It is Isabella or nothing for her. She has already alone with Mrs. Allen and wished for a friend. What I really want is for John to go away. He seems to bring out the worst in all of them. She seeks Mr. Allen for support because society dictates that she turn to an older male for advice. Well, at least when Mrs. Allen isn’t really that bright.
What about you? How are you feeling about the Thrope siblings? What about Mrs. Allen’s response
How would you react if John Thrope went behind your back and manipulated your life to suit his desires?
What about Henry? Can we be honest about him? Am I the only one who thinks he is a bit of a language snob? He knows it too and so does his sister. I mean, they both make fun of it. Still, you know he would be a grammar snob online! Look at this quote about Catherine and her use of the word ‘nice’:
“Very true,” said Henry, “and this is a very nice day, and we are taking a very nice walk, and you are two very nice young ladies. Oh! It is a very nice word indeed! It does for everything. Originally perhaps it was applied only to express neatness, propriety, delicacy, or refinement—people were nice in their dress, in their sentiments, or their choice. But now every commendation on every subject is comprised in that one word.”
What makes me like Henry more than John is that Henry actually seems to know what he is talking about, but John seems like he is completely full of shit.
Our week’s reading ends with marriage proposals or hints of proposals. What do you think of Isabella and James getting engaged? Did you see it coming even though Catherine didn’t? Did you pick up on anything through the chapters that excites or worries you about it? What about John and Catherine’s final conversation and… engagement???
Side, his sass has made Henry Tilney my third favorite Austen hero…
What are your thoughts? Share them in the comments!