By David Monaghan
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Extra resources for Jane Austen Structure and Social Vision
Therefore, when Tilney asks her to dance, there is a good deal to persuade Catherine to accept. Yet she turns him down, and thereby reveals a keen sense that social obligations must take precedence over her own wishes. By agreeing to be John Thorpe's partner she has not simply secured her own enjoyment, but has incurred responsibilities towards him. The fact that Thorpe is not fulfilling his side of the bargain in no sense lessens Catherine's obligations. By her behaviour on this occasion, Catherine shows very clearly that even in the early stages of her introduction to the world she is by no means ignorant of, or uncaring about, the rules that govern it.
The first occurs 28 JANE AUSTEN: STRUCTURE AND SOCIAL VISION when Catherine turns down Henry Tilney's invitation to dance in favour of a previous engagement toJohn Thorpe; the second when she is persuaded to go on an excursion with the Thorpes and thereby fails to honour an obligation to walk with the Tilneys; the third when she refuses to break a subsequent engagement with the Tilneys despite pressure from the Thorpes; and the fourth when General Tilney uses a previous engagement to visit Lord Longtown as an excuse for dismissing Catherine from Northanger Abbey.
Furthermore, he forms a bond that promises well for the future of his society. The Thorpes have been defeated, General Tilney has been reduced to impotence, and, as is suggested by Henry and Catherine's occupancy of the Woodston Parsonage, the spiritual leadership of the community has come to rest firmly in the hands of two people who have demonstrated their commitment to the gentlemanly ideal of concern for others. Northanger Abbey, then, cannot be dismissed as a mere apprentice novel. It may bear affinities with the essentially satiricalJuvenilia, but it has far more in common with the works of Jane Austen's maturity, and the approach adopted here will work just as well with Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park and Emma.
Jane Austen Structure and Social Vision by David Monaghan