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Northanger Abbey as a Precursor to Pride and Prejudice Essay

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Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey is frequently described as a novel about reading—reading novels and reading people—while Pride and Prejudice is said to be a story about love, about two people overcoming their own pride and prejudices to realize their feelings for each other. If Pride and Prejudice is indeed about how two stubborn youth have misjudged each other, then why is it that this novel is so infrequently viewed to be connected to Austen’s original novel about misjudgment and reading one’s fellows, Northanger Abbey? As one of Austen’s first novels, Northanger Abbey is often viewed as a “prototype” to her later novels, but it is most often compared to Persuasion (Brown 50). However, if read discerningly, one can see in Pride and…show more content…
Fitting with the common theme between the two novels of the judgment of others, each heroine falls victim to a horrible misjudgment of the character of another. After discovering that the engagement between her brother and her friend Isabella has been broken, Catherine finds she has grossly misjudged her friend’s character, and thinks, “She was ashamed of Isabella, ashamed of ever having loved her” (Northanger 150). Elizabeth, on the other hand, finds her attachment the Wickham wholly inappropriate after receiving her letter from Mr. Darcy. After digesting the shocking contents of the letter, Elizabeth “grew absolutely ashamed of herself.—Of neither Darcy nor Wickham could she think, without feeling that she had been blind, partial, prejudiced, absurd” (Pride 156). And indeed, as suggested by Elizabeth’s mention of Darcy, this misjudgment goes on to affect each girl’s attachment to her future husband. 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
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