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 …show more content…
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
Jane Austen opens his novel Northanger Abbey (1818) by describing the character of Catherine Morland. Austen takes use in literary devices such as descriptive and honest word choice, also the use of a calming tone when expressing the traits of Catherine Morland, how she is in fact a free spirited girl, lives a simple life, yet empowers to shine as a heroine.
From the novel “Northanger Abbey”, “General Tilney is accurately, if understandingly, described by Mrs. Morland as a strange man (Austen 29). In this story there is a character named Catherine Morland who is a tom-boy, that is a girl that is becoming a woman. As she is becoming a woman, she is pulled between both boys and playing sports, like Cricket. Her mother and father send her off to an upper class resort to meet young men. There she encounters a man named Henry and she falls in love with him.
The only way young women could find economic security in early 19th century England was through marriage. Personal wealth was important for a man looking for a wife as well. It was clear in the novel that Catherine’s inherent wealth was an important factor in deciding if John Thorpe, one of Catherine’s love interests, wanted to marry her. Austen describes Catherine’s family as average, or middle class, as she describes Catherine’s father as, “a clergyman, without being neglected, or poor, and a very respectable man” (15). Although Catherine is described in this way, John assumes her wealth because of her connections with the Allen family.
In Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen introduces the major thematic concept of marriage and financial wealth. Throughout the novel, Austen depicts various relationships that exhibit the two recurring themes. Set during the regency period, the perception of marriage revolves around a universal truth. Austen claims that a single man “must be in want of a wife.” Hence, the social stature and wealth of men were of principal importance for women. Austen, however, hints that the opposite may prove more exact: a single woman, under the social limitations, is in want of a husband. Through this speculation, Austen acknowledges that the economic pressure of social acceptance serves as a foundation for a proper marriage.
The involvement of a family member with the previously misjudged character directly causes each heroine’s fallout of sorts with her future husband, who will henceforth be referred to as the hero. Catherine’s brother James becomes involved with Isabella before she is known to be such a determined flirt, but when she all but abandons him for Captain Tilney, it becomes known to General Tilney that Catherine’s family is not as rich as formerly supposed, and this results in
Richardson explains how this confusion was relevant of the historical and cultural context of Austen’s era. Both the Gothic and the sentimental genres were regularly criticised for influencing readers to project fictional elements into real life. As Richardson explains, the Gothic was singled out for condemnation through its ‘thematics of female constraint and persecution and its fictive indulgence in forbidden lusts and passions, and the sentimental novel, with its ideal or ‘romantic’ picture of life and its over-valuation of erotic love as the key to female happiness (Richardson 2005:399). This projection is reflected in Northanger Abbey when Catherine is invited to Northanger Abbey: ‘Northanger Abbey! These were thrilling words, and wound up Catherine’s feelings to the highest point of ecstasy’ ( Austen pp.99-100). The use of ‘ecstasy’ reflects Catherine’s excessive personality and self-transcendence. Catherine’s gothic idealist vision of the abbey and her pursuit of pleasure, signifies her lack of self-directedness in which she dismisses her own control of life and puts herself in the position of the gothic heroine as portrayed in her reading of Radcliffe’s ‘The Mysteries of Udolpho’. The prominent role of ‘The Mysteries of Udolpho’ in Northanger Abbey is highly symbolic in representing Austen’s concerns of the excesses of sensibility and the gothic and how they can distort the reader’s interpretation of life. Barker-Benfield (p.111) highlights how ‘Radcliffe’s Mysteries typically hinted at its apparent dangers but continued to convey its tenets. And no one could prevent readers from identifying with figures the author intended as warnings against sensibility’s ‘excesses’.
From my point of view, Jane Austen should be seen as a ‘feminist’ writer. As she wrote in one of her novel Persuasion, she considers that ‘Men have had every advantage of us in telling their own story. Education has been theirs in so much higher a degree; the pen has been in their hands. I will not allow books to prove anything’ (Anne Elliot, in Jane Austen’s Persuasion). Such feminist ideas are expressed in many of her literary works. In her another novel Northanger Abbey, there are various issues discussed, which include not only marriage, social criticism and Gothic, but also feminism as well. The essay is to discuss Jane Austen and her feminist thoughts by analyzing Northanger Abbey.
Catherine is so wrapped up in her fictional world of reading that she becomes ignorant of her real life issues with Henry Tilney, for whom she has been love-struck since their introduction. She entertains herself with wild imaginings about his life and family. Catherine's imaginings foreshadow her eager desire for mischief as Austen's story develops. Catherine is endowed with a vivid imagination, but she has not yet learned to use it in concert with her perception, especially in understanding the interactions between people.
Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey establishes the inner feeling of a woman based on her own personal experience which provides a vivid glance into her perspective. Correspondingly, it reinstates Gothic novels as an reflection marginalized by the experiences of women living in the upper class. For contemporary modern day, Northanger Abbey functions as a warning, depicting the danger of amorous and sexual exploitation from the opportunistic characters within a social environment. These dangers are a realistic theme even in today's society marking potential threat for women. Mostly importantly, it serves as a device that's depicts the social separation between the companionship of woman and the inhuman acknowledgement of women as objects, which fosters the necessarily development for both men and
Much to Catherine’s pleasure, she has a walk scheduled with her sweetheart, Henry Tilney, and her dearest friend, Eleanor Tilney. However, on the morning of the walk, it rains. Austen uses the rain to foreshadow the upcoming unpleasant events. In the afternoon, the rain subsides leaving a muddy mess. Unexpectedly, Isabella Thorpe, John Thorpe, and James Morland arrive at her house. They request that Catherine go along on their trip to neighboring cites. However, Catherine feels obligated to stay in the house and await Henry Tilney and Eleanor Tilney. In his typical self-centered manner, John Thorpe declares that he saw Tilney engaging in other activities, “I saw him at that moment turn up the Lansdown Road, - driving a smart-looking girl” (Austen 53). Although perplexed as to why the Tilneys did not send word that their engagement should be broken, she consents to the proposed carriage ride. While riding out of her neighborhood, Catherine spots Eleanor and Henry Tilney walking towards her house. Catherine, exclaims, “Pray, pray stop, Mr. Thorpe. - I cannot go on. - I will not go on. - I must go back to Miss Tilney.” (Austen 54). John Thorpe disregarding Catherine’s plea, “laughed, smacked his whip, encouraged his horse, made odd noises, and drove on” (Austen 54). During this scene, Austen magnifies the villainy of John Thorpe by whisking away with innocent Catherine.
Soon after her own arrival in Bath, Catherine is followed by her brother James and Isabella’s brother John Thorpe. At the initial meeting with the boys, Catherine is mistaken on two different points, still being ignorant in her perceptions of other people. Although slightly thrown off by John’s manners, Catherine is unable to formulate her own negative opinion of him, too affected by the opinions of Isabella and James, and “her judgment was further brought off by Isabella’s assuring her…that John thought her the most charming girl in the world” (Austen 48). For Catherine, it is easier and more natural to accept the opinions of someone like Isabella, a mentor figure. Also, in the same scene, Catherine makes the assumption that her brother James has journeyed “so far on purpose to see me” (49). Catherine hastily jumps to this false conclusion, not having the experience to detect James’ continuous questions and compliments of Isabella as a sign of his true motives for coming to town: to visit the “prettiest girl in Bath” (49).
Jane Austen is well known as a novelist for her satirical representation of female characters in late Georgian society. During this period, novel writing and reading was still a controversial topic, and as such was incorporated in her book Northanger Abbey (1817), which has at its core a young female protagonist obsessed with novels. We can clearly interpret Northanger Abbey as Austen’s satirical response to the social conventions decrying novel reading, as she uses an intrusive narrator and more subtle supplementary techniques to comment on and satirize the debate surrounding novels.
Most novels just want to pull the reader in, and make them forget that they are reading a novel, but Austen does not allow this. The very first line in Northanger Abbey is “No one who had ever seen Catherine Morland in her infancy, would have supposed her born to be a heroine” (1). By pointing out that the main character is supposed to be the heroine, Austen draws attention to the fact that this is a novel. However, while Catherine is in fact a heroine, it is also states from the beginning that she does not match the expectations of the average heroine. So right from the beginning, the reader knows that while this is a novel, it is not going to be a typical one. It is in fact, going to parodying and critiquing some common aspects of novels. Austen continues on, and not so subtly points out the ways that Catherine differs from the heroines normally found in novels.
Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey is a novel that features vibrant character development but the biggest development is that which occurs in Catherine Morland. Catherine’s character nearly develops in all components of her being and she is able to evolve from the unorthodox “heroine” that she is initially described as. In the novel, Catherine starts out as an incredibly naïve and inexperienced girl who confuses all facets of the real world as the plot in a Gothic novel. Catherine develops as a character through her social interactions with those around her as it helps her gain experience with how to correctly perceive the world. With her newly gained experience of her surroundings, Catherine develops and is able to see the real world through a social lens rather than her own subjective lens or that of a Gothic lens.
England has always had a rich history of interesting cultural traditions but arguably none as prevalent as marriage. Marriage, the union of two people with emotional ideals and expectations, are brought on by many different factors that include: for love, for money, for climbing social status, escapism, survival, etc. In Jane Austen’s novels, she focuses on the importance of marriage in her world because she wanted to emphasize how marriage is the most important life event of a woman as this would determine her place in society. Persuasion shows readers good and bad examples of marriage: the amiable Crofts and other couples such as Sir Walter & Lady Elliot and the Smiths. Jane Austen uses the Crofts to support the importance of marriage