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Northanger Abbey By Jane Austin Essay

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Northanger Abbey by Jane Austin

Key facts:

full title:
Northanger Abbey
Jane Austen
type of work:
'Bildungsroman'(novel of education or moral development); parody of Gothic novels language:
English (British, late 1700s/early 1800s)
time and place written:
1798–1799 in Austen's home in Steventon, Hampshire. It was sold to a publisher in 1803 but not published. Later, after Austen's success with other novels, she bought back the manuscript and revised it slightly. 'Northanger Abbey' was published posthumously in 1817. date of first publication:

John Murray, Albemarle Street
Third person omniscient; free indirect discourse
point of view:
The narrator varies greatly. Sometimes the narrator is contented to simply describe events normally; sometimes the narrator addresses the reader directly; and sometimes (especially in the second half of the novel) Austen uses the technique of free indirect discourse, in which she describes people and events from a 3rd-person perspective, but in the way that a particular character (in this case, Catherine) sees and understands them. Tone:

Light, ironic, satirical; gently fond when talking about Catherine tense:
Immediate past
setting (time):
January–April 1798.
setting (place):
The first half of the novel takes place primarily in Bath, England, which was a big resort town for the upper classes. The second half takes place thirty miles away from Bath in Northanger Abbey, a large stone building, formerly a church, that has been converted into the Tilney's home. Protagonist:

Catherine Morland
Arguably Isabella Thorpe, her brother John Thorpe, or General Tilney major conflict:
Catherine, enjoying the frisson of fear produced by her own literary imagination, scares herself and displeases the man who loves her climax:
General Tilney sends Catherine away from Northanger Abbey
falling action:
Catherine returns home, in misery, to Fullerton. She sulks around the house until Henry arrives and proposes to her. Several months later, after the General grudgingly gives his consent, the two are married. Themes:

Gothic novels; youth
Reading; wealth and ostentation
Northanger Abbey
Foreshadowing often exists in the novel as a parody of Gothic conventions. On the ride to the Abbey, Henry tells Catherine a hypothetical story about her upcoming first night in Bath, complete with mysterious chests, hidden passages, and villainous doings. This foreshadows Catherine's actual night, when she recreates Henry's prophecy with her imagination.

'Northanger Abbey' as a bildungsroman:

'Northanger Abbey' is a “Bildungsroman”,which is a tale where a heroine or hero loses their youthful naivety. At the beginning of the novel Catherine is unable to see people’s true motives, for example Isabella flirting with her brother James. Then later on when she realizes this, she is unable to see that Isabella is also flirting with Frederick Tilney. She assumes that people do things for the same reason as she does and always act with good morals, as Henry points out, but in reality not many people she knows do. Catherine sees the best in everyone, but as the novel continues she begins to understand people and their motivations. This is often distorted by her love for Gothic fiction with her overactive imagination, but after she receives a scolding from Henry Tilney over her assumptions of General Tilney, she learns that the nature of people does not have to be either good or bad, as in Gothic fiction, because real life is never as black and white as it is often portrayed in the novels she reads.

Gothic romance:

They are novels that combine melodrama, fantastic, vengeance, secrets, distant mysterious pasts etc. The features in a gothic novel are medieval or renaissance settings, a gloomy abbey or castle with secrets passages etc., a ghastly secret within, a dramatic discovery by the heroine, dramatic events with happens at night usually often during a storm, an innocent young women threatened by powerful and cynical noblemen, a ghostly atmosphere, journeys through wild landscapes(forests, mountains etc.) and a combination of the sublime and picturesque. Anne Radcliffe's 'Mysteries of Udolpho' is very much present in Northanger Abbey. It is referred to explicitly and is also present within the text. We find the process of the palimpsest.

Most literary critics refer to Northanger Abbey as Jane Austen's "Gothic parody" because it satirizes the form and conventions of the Gothic novels that were popular during the time when Austen wrote Northanger Abbey. In particular, Austen is said to have targeted Anne Radcliffe, the author of gothic novels such as 'A Sicilian Romance', 'The Romance Of The Forest', and 'The Mysteries of Udolpho'. Catherine reads 'Udolpho' during her time at Bath, and it is implied that she has read similar novels before, and Isabella has a library of other Gothic novels that the women plan to read once Catherine has finished 'Udolpho'. Gothic novels and their conventions occur throughout the novel. On the ride from Bath to Northanger Abbey, Henry invents a humorous hypothetical story about Catherine's first night in Bath, making subtle references to several different Gothic novels, most of which were well-known at the time.

Aside from Henry's...

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