Northanger Abbey Paper

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 Catherine matures in the town of Bath and at Northanger Abbey, she must forgo her childhood fantasies in order to enter society as independent and virtuous. Throughout the novel, Austen utilizes satire and irony through free indirect discourse. Austen molds Catherine to fit the female Bildungsroman of Gothic novels by exploring the proper and improper social behaviors of society, allowing Catherine to resist manipulation by others in order to become her own person. Austen first introduces Catherine Morland as an unlikely heroine: “No one who had ever seen Catherine Morland in her infancy, would have supposed her born to be an heroine” (7). Here, Austen asserts that Catherine is very untypical of the heroines in many novels. She describes her as having “a mind about as ignorant and uninformed as a female mind at seventeen usually is” (12). Catherine arrives at Bath in the company of Mr. and Mrs. Allen, both respected people in society. They introduce Catherine to life outside of Fullerton. In Bath, C...


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...en’s Northanger Abbey is the development of Catherine Morland. It is evident throughout the narrative that Catherine grows intellectually, emotionally, and socially. Catherine sets out into the world at seventeen and returns no more than five months later a changed woman. She enters Bath and Northanger Abbey an excellent reader of Gothic novels, which at times can cloud her perception of reality. Through facing her own self-deception, Catherine returns home to Fullerton an independent and intelligent woman. Throughout Northanger Abbey, Austen molds Catherine to fit the female Bildungsroman of Gothic novels, meaning the narrative traces the progress of Catherine towards self understanding and a sense of social responsibility. Catherine faces both the proper and the improper social behaviors of society and learns to accept them, all the while becoming her own person.

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