Jane Austen Northanger Abbey - Essay Example

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Jane Austen’s works are described as “little bits of ivory” on which the author lavished extreme precision and control, as if working “with so fine a brush” (Cohen, Paula Marantz) “Northanger Abbey” is one of the earliest works written by Austen but it was the last…
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Jane Austen Northanger Abbey
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Download file to see previous pages The novel traces the metamorphosis of Catherine Morland, the wide-eyed ingénue, who mixes the imagined world of her Gothic novels with the reality of her existence, and her final rapprochement with the truth that life is different from what her imagination had portrayed it to be.
“Northanger Abbey” on one level can be treated as a novel of manners, since it encompasses most of the traits that conform to this genre. The novel is a commentary on the life in nineteenth century England and much emphasis has been placed on the components of proper and improper behavior. The story itself is a kind of “coming-of-age” narrative, where we see the 17 year old Catherine Morland grow up from a wide eyed immature girl into the confident woman who knows how to take her rightful place in society. Catherine’s growth is not only concerned with learning, but it is a process of unlearning all that she has imbibed from the Gothic novels she relishes. She has to master the art of curbing her imagination and instead learn to grapple with reality.
The social conventions of the time are portrayed brilliantly by Jane Austen in her works and in “Northanger Abbey” we see her outlook towards the custom of primogeniture, which she has dealt with in her other works too. Austen juxtaposes the profligate natural heir with a younger but more capable sibling, who is denied a part in the family fortune only because of a stroke of fate. In “Northanger Abbey,” the Tilney brothers are a perfect example of the absurdity of this law. Frederick Tilney “disobedient and sensual” heir apparent to his father’s fortune shows a complete lack of disregard to social conventions, directly in proportion to his unchallenged legal position as heir. (Popham , Sir John) Henry Tilney, on the other hand is more suited to carry out the proper management of the Tilney estate and also create stronger family bonds. The issue of primogeniture inheritance laws and ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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