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Northanger Abbey Paper

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Set in 1798 England, Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey is the “coming of age” story of Catherine Morland, a naïve young girl who spends time away from home at the malleable age of seventeen. Catherine’s introduction into society begins when Mr. and Mrs. Allen, her neighbors in Fullerton, invite her to accompany them as they vacation in the English town of Bath. While in Bath, Catherine spends her time visiting newly-made friends, such as Isabella Thorpe, and attending balls and plays. Catherine soon after is introduced to Henry Tilney, a handsome yet mysterious clergyman whom she finds herself attracted to. Catherine also befriends Eleanor
Tilney, Henry’s sister, and is invited to join the Tilney’s at their estate, Northanger Abbey. As
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Alongside Isabella, Catherine begins to learn the ways of the world, though never losing her simplicity or honesty. She discovers that countless people are defined by their wealth and status. Many of the characters that Catherine interacts with are preoccupied with material possessions, such as General Tilney, father of Henry and Eleanor. The General wants nothing more than for his children to marry into wealthy families and continually asks Catherine to compare his own home and gardens to those of Mr. Allen, “With a triumphant smile of self-satisfaction, the General wished he could do the same, for her never entered his (gardens), without being vexed in some way or other, by its falling short of his plan” (167). Austen points out how General Tilney must compare himself to someone inferior to him in order to boast to Catherine about his own majestic gardens. During her stay in Bath, Catherine discovers the intricacies and ennui’s of high society and marriage. She learns that it is not proper for a woman to be seen riding in an open carriage with a man who she is not engaged to and that often, women marry for money, rarely for love. Money often determines social and economic class. Class in 1798 England is central to the overriding marriage concerns which govern society. In order for Catherine to maintain her reputation and in time, attract a man to be her husband, she must learn to read the character
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