Quick Index Board Index Home FAQ Site Map
|Ch 24: Why is Henry astonished?
Written by TimLee
(3/18/2009 12:59 p.m.)
In chapter 24 we come to a fairly climactic scene, at least as far as the development of the relationship between Henry and Catherine goes. Catherine is poking around the dead mom's room and hears footsteps on the stair case.
With a feeling of terror not very definable, she fixed her eyes on the staircase, and in a few moments it gave Henry to her view. “Mr. Tilney!” she exclaimed in a voice of more than common astonishment. He looked astonished too. “Good God!” she continued, not attending to his address. “How came you here? How came you up that staircase?”
“How came I up that staircase!” he replied, greatly surprised. “Because it is my nearest way from the stable–yard to my own chamber; and why should I not come up it?”
Catherine recollected herself, blushed deeply, and could say no more. He seemed to be looking in her countenance for that explanation which her lips did not afford. She moved on towards the gallery. “And may I not, in my turn,” said he, as he pushed back the folding doors, “ask how you came here? This passage is at least as extraordinary a road from the breakfast–parlour to your apartment, as that staircase can be from the stables to mine.”
Why is Henry astonished? The route he took is not unusual for someone who knows the layout of the house, but neither is it hard to imagine why he would find Catherine in an area that was not the usual "road from the breakfast–parlour to [her] apartment.” She's a guest who has a keen interest in abbeys, he knows it, and he knows her well enough that he should expect her to wander around the place. Astonished? I would think he'd be astonished if he found her cooped up in her room all day.
On the other hand, the word "astonished" does inform my understanding of his ultimate reaction (the "Dear Miss Morland" passage), and the affect it had on Catherine. When I first read this passage I thought Henry was needlessly - and somewhat hurtfully - lecturing her on jumping to conclusions. I have come to think differently. His astonishment is not the same as being shocked by her behavior. I now read this passage as being an example of Henry's gentleness, consideration and wisdom. When I read the words "Dear Miss Moreland" I imagine all the tenderness and compassion possible from a man like Henry welling up through those few words.
Catherine's tears of shame in the last line of this chapter are not the result of a sting of rebuke. They result from recognizing her own folly in the face of the grace and mercy she has received from a man who obviously cares deeply about her welfare.
Groupread is maintained by Myretta with WebBBS 3.21.