Jane Austen - Northanger Abbey

Essay, 2001

10 Pages, Grade: 2,3 (B)


Northanger Abbey[1] is a novel written by Jane Austen. It is one of the famous typical romantic novels, Jane Austen is famous for. The conflict in Jane Austen’s novel develops mainly around the question how personality, wit, and breeding of the heroine( because she always uses heroines, and never heroes ) can change everything.”About how they can overcome their problems with this features. In her novels, generally the gentleman courts the socially rather modest situated lady. The problem is carefully taken away from the point of the class-conflicts and switched into psychological ones.”[2]

Her novels are generally about the eighteenth century. This becomes clear by her objective, dramatic style of narration. She uses the form of the third person narrator, so there’s an ominiscent point of view. The reader doesn’t only depend on the heroines impressions of the other characters but also knows through the description of the author a little more about their back-grounds.Generally one gets to know a detailed analysis about the heroines feelings whereas those of the other characters are a little implicit. Even though she gives clear and detailed descriptions of the other characters physical appearances and manners, she leaves the reader a large space to interpret the actions of feelings of them.

I formerly mentioned that the characters or rather the character traits are of big importance in Jane Austen’s novels, so in my essay I will try to describe and interpret the different characters in Northanger Abbey. Doing this I will try to concentrate more on the characteristic comparisons of Catherine and Isabella, John Thorpe and James Morland and Henry Tilney with his brother Captain Tilney and his sister Eleanor, as I believe that this point is of big importance. We will also be able to see that Jane Austen generally took imperfect characters for her novels which makes the whole story more natural and realistic. We will experience this in almost every character but above all in the character of the heroine. At that times the heroes and heroines were generally described as nearly god-like creatures with endless beauty and delicate character. Austen took the other direction by taking a heroine which is in so many ways imperfect that it’s almost impossible to use the definition of heroine for her. A heroine with which the reader can identify his self. A character like Catherine Morland.

Catherine and Isabella

Catherine Morland is a pretty girl at the age of seventeen. At the first chapter of then book we get to know that she was always more like a boy than a girl. She was always rather fond of boys-games and had not the tastes girl were expected to have. She wasn’t particularly fond of gardens or drawing and her abilities were not the strongest in the world. She couldn’t learn anything before she was taught; and sometimes not even then, for she was often inattentive, and occasionally stupid.(NB,37) She’s also described as having an awkward figure, a sallow skin without colour, dark lank hair, and strong features.(NB,37) But with the time Catherine’s appearances change. She grows more and more beautiful and gradually more fond of girls things . she begins to dress and style like a girl and she grows even considerably smart. But there are other character traits of Catherine that are even more important. These character traits are not the ones she gained with time, for they are also mentioned in the first chapter. She is described as having neither a bad heart nor a bad temper; was seldom stubborn, scarcely ever quarrelsome and very kind to little ones, with few interruptions of tyranny (NB,37). Although after this characterization of her the rather bad parts of her character are described, they don’t seem to be of much importance as she loses them with the time anyway. But these positive character traits are the ones that are important for my analysis.

I formerly mentioned that she’s at the age of seventeen a considerably pretty girl. Just in this year her neighbours Mr. And Mrs. Allen propose to take her to Bath with them. Catherine is allowed to go with them as her parents are generally very easy about that kind of things. In fact this is the first time that Catherine comes out of her town to see the rest of the world, for to a young girl Bath was in fact the rest of the world at these times. It is Bath that much of Catherine’s character is revealed, because there she meets with Isabella Thorpe, a character so completely the opposite of her own.

The Thorpes are old acquaintances of Mrs .Allen, and it is for both sides a pleasure to have come across each-other. Mrs. Thorpe has come to Bath with her daughters and had apparently the same problem as Mrs. Allen. Both were looking for some friends with which they could spend the time there. For Mrs. Allen and Mrs. Thorpe it is a most welcome occurrence and for Catherine and Isabella it is the start of a friendship. A kind of friendship that is usual for girls at that age. The beginning of a real deep attachment. But as the story goes on we get the impression that the two characters are so unlike each-other that it seems impossible that they were able to form something like a friendship at all.


[1] Jane Austen, Nothanger Abbey, Ed. Anne Henry Ehrenpreis (London: Penguin, 1972) hereafter inindicated as NA plus page number

[2] Hans Ulrich Seeber, Englische Literatur Geschichte,( Stuttgart: J.B Metzler Verlag, 1991) 280-281

Excerpt out of 10 pages


Jane Austen - Northanger Abbey
University of Stuttgart  (Anglistics)
Essay Writing
2,3 (B)
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
File size
351 KB
Jane, Austen, Northanger, Abbey, Essay, Writing
Quote paper
Zehra Cevik (Author), 2001, Jane Austen - Northanger Abbey, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/6743


  • No comments yet.
Read the ebook
Title: Jane Austen - Northanger Abbey

Upload papers

Your term paper / thesis:

- Publication as eBook and book
- High royalties for the sales
- Completely free - with ISBN
- It only takes five minutes
- Every paper finds readers

Publish now - it's free