Jane Austen has written many different novels, some of which are quite similar in the themes and character. Northanger Abbey is just another of those novels. Some of the major themes in this and other similar novels include family, social classism. This novel is also socially conscious and reflects the nature of the societies that existed around the 18th and 19th centuries. The controversies are still fresh in our society today. Most readers can relate with the thoughts that Jane Austen is sharing with the world. It is therefore not a waste of time to read this novel. we will therefore make an analysis of this novel helping you get an idea of what Jane Austen tries to depict in the story.
The history of the Novel
Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey was first written in 1803 in form of a manuscript which she sold but got first published between 1817 and 1818. The 14-15-year delay was due to Jane wanting to go anonymous and receiving no credit for her work. Publishers did not have confidence in her literary work so she kept the rights back in her family while still doing some revisions on her work. Later, Jane Austen died. This marked the beginning of the success of her novel which was sold by his brother. Jane Austen speaks to us today from the graves because her novel has important social issues relevant to our society today. However, some people still fear that more could have been left out as a result of the revisions she was forced to make so that she could get credit. But, generally, it has greatly excelled in the novel market.
The plot of the novel
The story starts with Catherine Morland who is born in a family with 10 children where she is the 4th and also the eldest among her sisters. At age 17, her parents are already organizing her marriage during which they are a little disappointed since their options were abit limited to Wiltshire. So they decide to go beyond. They arrange with a childless family called the Allens on transferring Miss Morland to the coastal city of Bath. Everything goes as planned and Catherine arrives there to start a new social life. There, she learns how to interact with young men. In the process, she rubs shoulders with a young Mr. Henry Tilney, a clergyman, to whom she finds very charming and quickly gets attracted to. She also makes meaning friendships with families at Bath such as the Thorpe family who happen to have links with the Allen family. Life generally goes on well for Catherine at the coast city. Her social life gets more fun.
Catherine and Tinley are now engaged. Hence, her father-in-law invites her over to a gothic area called Northanger Abbey. She gets fond of the place. Unexpected yet unclear events occur there prompting Catherine to leave Northanger Abbey for her home at Fullerton. Fortunately, the lovers reunite later in Fullerton where Henry demystifies why his father had to send her home. Both wait for their romantic reunion to be approved by their father. After a few considerations, General Tilney is happy to eventually approve Henry and Catherine’s romantic reunion which leads to their marriage. The novel revolves around, a love affair, marriage, betrayal, loyalty and social interaction. it displays our real life situations in the society and how various people interact, tangling in love affairs, full of challenges including betrayal, unfaithfulness and other affairs. A family setting is also depicted in this novel hence giving a display of what happens in our modern society.
Ideas presented in the novel
- Loyalty and Love
Jane Austen’s novel is a love story concerning the love life of characters in the play. She presents loyalty as the ultimate proof of love. Henry is loyal to Catherine and Catherine is also loyal to Henry. Both understand that marriage is a binding agreement that parties must strive to keep. Jane Austen suggests that loyalty between couples is tested before marriage. It should apply even in our society today.
- Social classism
In the novel, the importance of wealth and being respectability is also depicted. Young people plan to marry or get married to wealthy people. Marriage is a gateway into the promised land – being wealthy and respectable. There is also the aspect of extreme inequality between the rich and the poor. However, Henry gets to love and marry Catherine despite her humble background.
Isabella Thorpe uses Catherine only to get to her brother James because she thinks her family is rich. So does Henry’s father. However, Catherine realizes what their motive was when the treatment towards her and her brother changes drastically.
It has been presented as the result of successful courtships and loyalty tests. Other considerations include social and wealth status of people marrying each other. The existential nature of marriage in this setting makes Isabella and Henry’s father to go as far as being hypocritical towards Catherine just to ensure they land wealthy in-laws.
Character in the Novel
Observant – she notices the motives of Henry’s father and Isabella. She remains quiet about it.
Modest – she appreciates when people view her positively.
- Henry Tilney
Loving – accepts Catherine as a person, courts and eventually marries her.
Cynical – he questions literally everything in life.
Understanding – he knows Catherine’s weaknesses, appreciates them and never uses them against her.
Hypocritical – her friendship is based on the mistaken judgement of Catherine as a rich kid. When she realizes later, she turns monstrous towards her; something that makes Catherine end the friendship.
Loving – she liked Catherine and the friendship grew stronger.
- General Tilney
Rigid – Is extremely strict on following schedule.
Responsible – He tries to ensure the best for his family.
- The Allens
Accommodative – Mrs. Allen agrees to take Catherine along with her to Bath. Mr. Allen allows them to go together.
Loving – they both care about Catherine’s social welfare and want the best for her in marriage.
In a nutshell, Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey is an accurate mirror to our society. The literary work is really worth the credit, time, energy, and money.