Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Jane Austen Books: Northanger Abbey

If you love Jane Austen you may have read Northanger Abbey. If you, as I am, are fully devoted to the genius of her works then you definitely have read Northanger Abbey many times.
I'm planning on doing a series on six of Jane Austen's seven completed novels. You may catch me writing that every book is my favorite and, on some level, that's true. It's almost as if all her books combine in my brain into one great work. I'm excited to share my passion for her works with you. If you're a die-hard Austenite then, you'll probably enjoy hearing another perspective. If you're relatively new to Austen, perhaps you'll get bitten by the bug!
Catherine Morland, the main character, is a young lady to whom, at the time I first read this novel, I could fully relate. She's the daughter of a vicar and from a large family. Check. Check. She had an active imagination and allowed her reading to carry her off into the world of fancy. Check. Check. She's naive about the ways of the world. Big check here. She's ready for an adventure. Okay, here I depart from her, I enjoyed my quiet life and was content to read of others' adventures.
When our story opens young Catherine is quietly living with her family in the country, enjoying novels, and day dreaming. She's given the opportunity to finally live out the adventures she's been imagining by a neighbor couple, the Allens, when they ask her to accompany them to Bath.
While there Catherine meets many people: < br> Henry Tilney
Eleanor Tilney
Isabella Thorpe
John Thorpe
General Tilney
Mrs. Thorpe
And, she's reunited with her brother James, who has been away at Oxford.
I'm going to examine a few of these characters.
Isabella Thorpe: Isabella is the typical self-absorbed type. She's very pretty, and boy does she know it! She's incapable of having empathy for another, and has no need for a friendship that isn't centered around her.
Eleanor Tilney: Eleanor serves as a contrast to Miss Thorpe. She's kind hearted and affectionate. She is a genuine friend who enjoys being a supportive friend.
John Thorpe: Mr. Thorpe is the only character Austen ever wrote, including the infamous Mr. Wickham, that annoys me to no end. This is on purpose of course, but I have trouble getting over every scene in which there is a mention of John Thorpe! He's crass, rude and morally gray. Catherine does not like him, but her desire to be kind to her brother and her friend, Isabella overpowers her own preferences. Mr. Thorpe was proud and that perhaps is his most annoying attribute.
Henry Tilney: My favorite Austen hero! I'm genuine about this and I won't say that any other Austen hero! Henry is a happy young man with a good sense of humor. Good nature, amiable, just the things he ought to be. He stands in stark contrast to the annoyance that is Mr. Thorpe. Henry isn't a proud person, but his initial interest in Catherine is brought on solely by her obvious preference for him! Henry can laugh at a lot of situations, which is probably why I like him the most. My favorite of his attributes is his joy in mocking! He teases Catherine through the whole book! (My husband picks on me all the time and I love it.)
Back to the plot.
It doesn't take Catherine long after becoming acquainted with Henry Tilney to develop a bit of a crush on him. She's unsure of how Mr. Tilney feels for her, but she like a schoolgirl does very little to hide that she thoroughly enjoys his company.
Not long after she arrives in Bath she also meets a family by the name of Thorpe. Mrs. Allen was at school with Mrs. Thorpe and Catherine's brother friends with Mrs. Thorpe's son, John. The eldest of the Thorpe daughters, Isabella, befriends Catherine immediately and they bond over their mutual love of novels.
When Catherine's brother, James and John Thorpe arrive in Bath it's obvious to the reader, but not to Catherine that Miss Thorpe has intentions toward him. The two eventually become engaged. Soon after the engagement with her brother gone, and being able to witness that Isabella in her brother's absence she realized that Isabella does not have as faithful a heart as she'd originally believed.
She receives inexplicable kindness from General Tilney, Eleeanor and Henry's father, and when the family departs from Bath he extends an invitation to Catherine, or rather encourages Eleanor to invite Catherine, to Northanger Abbey, they're country home. Catherine passes many happy days at Northanger Abbey solidifying her friendship with Eleanor and spending time in the company of Mr. Tilney. But, while there she receives a letter that devastates her and then, General Tilney makes a discovery that shatters the happiness she'd been experiencing.
There are so many reasons that I love this book. I love how Catherine is educated in worldly knowledge all the while keeping her sweet and unaffected nature. One of my favorite aspects of this novel are the conversations between Mr. Tilney and Catherine! They're so humorous! But, you'll laugh through the whole book, I promise.

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