• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

To What Extent Is Northanger Abbey a Gothic Novel?

Extracts from this document...


To What Extent Is Northanger Abbey a Gothic Novel? Northanger Abbey is Jane Austen's first novel, written between 1789-9 under the draft name of "Susan". Northanger Abbey is more of a gothic parody, along with many other themes and genres. It was written in a time of war, sensibility and liberation. Austen was part of a large family, which is reflected in our protagonist Catherine: the fourth child from a family of ten children. Austen loved to read, popular novels like Evelina and The Mysteries of Udolpho were published during her childhood and coming of age. The novels greatly influenced her writing genre and tone. In 1787, aged just 12 Austen wrote short, parodic, fictional pieces known as her Juvenilia, establishing her tone in the process. The cult of "sensibility" was a late 18th century social convention of the upper class that showed people how to express their emotions, especially women, often in an exaggerated manner. In Chapter 17, when Catherine is invited to go to Northanger Abbey it "wound up Catherine's feelings to the highest point of ecstasy...Catherine's feelings were now safely lodged in perfect bliss; and with spirits elated to rapture...Her passion for ancient edifices was next in degree to her passion for Henry Tilney" Catherine's feelings about gothic buildings are so exaggerated, that she compares it to her love of Henry Tilney. This breaks the boundaries of what was "sensible", women were not supposed to feel heightened emotions and this mocks the cult of sensibility. ...read more.


Tilney has concocted a hypothetical story identical to the events that happen. Austen uses free indirect style, contrasted with direct and indirect speech throughout the whole novel. It allows her to express the feelings and emotions of characters to the reader, without having the character state it themselves. This type of narration merges both third-person and first-person aspects, giving both internal and external viewpoints, which can sometimes give an ironic tone. Throughout the novel, Catherine is infatuated with gothic settings to such and extent that she is always associating things with events from the novels. In chapter 11, it is raining and Catherine says "Oh! That we had such weather here as they had at France, or at least in Tuscany and the South of France! - the night that poor St. Aubin died! - such beautiful weather!" St Aubin is the father of Emily: the heroine from Udolpho. Catherine doesn't just want beautiful weather; she wants the weather from Udolpho. Then later on in the chapter, Isabella and John Thorpe and her brother James come to take her to visit Blaize Castle and she asks "But is it like what one reads about?...the delight of exploring an edifice like Udolpho, as her fancy represented Blaize Castle to be, was such a counterpoise of good." Even though Catherine is expecting Eleanor Tilney to call on her, she is fascinated with visiting a place like in Udolpho. Also, the novel has gothic settings and lexis. ...read more.


realizes her stupidity at having thought such ideas about the General and feels ashamed of herself and upset that she might've ruined her relationship with Henry. Also, Henry finally stands up to their father because of his feelings towards Catherine and her mistreatment "He steadily refused to accompany his father into Herefordshire, an engagement formed almost at the moment to promote the dismissal of Catherine, and as steadily declared his intention of offering her his hand. The general was furious in his anger, and they parted in dreadful disagreement". So, not only does Catherine grow through the novel, but Henry also. Because of this, Northanger Abbey is a rite of passage. For a young writer Jane Austen's range of techniques and vocabulary is extensive. She uses a lot of hyperbole, the narration is exaggerated to a point where it is either ironic, humorous or both in some cases, for example in chapter 17, General Tilney's speech to Catherine is very long and elaborate, and all he is asking of her is to visit the abbey for a fortnight. He says "I am almost ashamed to make the request, though it's presumption would certainly appear greater to every creature in Bath than yourself" His lexis is very exaggerated to flatter Catherine. In conclusion, Northanger Abbey is a gothic novel to some extent, but it is more of a gothic parody. Jane Austen's range of techniques ranging from the narration to the ironic and sometimes amusing tone makes Northanger Abbey a parody of gothic novels, with the characteristics of a romance novel, rite of passage. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Jane Austen section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Jane Austen essays

  1. How does Jane Austen present the themes of love and marriage in the novel ...

    Emma has raised Harriet Smith to believe that her claims are greater than they actually are. She has made the poor Harriet now vain. Mr Knightly's words to Emma, "you have been no friend to Harriet Smith," prove to be predictive in this chapter, as Emma herself realises.

  2. Is Northanger Abbey truly a Gothic Romance?

    Austen humorously mocks Catherine's untypical heroine characteristics for example she was 'occasionally stupid', she had 'dark lank hair' and she 'preferred cricket'. Catherine's parents are still alive - unlike Emily in The Mysteries of Udolpho, whose parents have died. Simply, to sum up Catherine up in her early years, Austen writes: 'Catherine, who by nature had nothing heroic about her'.

  1. Explain how each of the 4 settings has a profound effect on the characters ...

    Because they have been given what they desire they have changed, ever so slightly towards Anne. At bath we see the true depths of Sir Walters's superficiality. He is made known that an old cousin Lady Dalrymple, wealthy and of higher social class, are in bath.

  2. Discuss the significance of this passage in your reading of the novel

    Up until now, Anne has been displayed as insignificant and unimportant. Her thoughts have only ever been displayed through free indirect discourse and she has barely spoken a word. People disregard her opinions and ignored what she had to say.

  1. Madame Bovary and Techniques in Fiction

    The uses of metaphors are in the most common way unlike Alexander Theroux's novel The Wogs where he uses a profuse amount of metaphors in one paragraph. Flaubert uses the metaphors to clarify or to detail something, "we would throw them [caps] under the bench so hard that they struck the wall and raised a cloud of dust..."

  2. The Mayor of Casterbridge - Chapter Summaries

    This chapter also concludes the development of the primary dramatic conflict within the novel. Although there will be other conflicts arising later in the novel, the wife auction will come back to haunt all the characters involved. It will shape the later decisions of Michael, Susan, Newson, and Elizabeth-Jane.

  1. What does Jane Austen have to say about novel reading and how does what ...

    Especially in the 18th century saw an increase in women's literacy and a corresponding rise in the number of female readers and writers. Novels mainly appealed to women at first, it was only 'respectable women who sat at home leaving them spare time to read novels, the introduction of lending libraries allowed people to obtain novels.

  2. Jane Austens Northanger Abbey depicts and enriches her readers with a better understanding of ...

    From the death of her father in 1805, Jane her mother, and her sister spent several years in dire financial straits. It was not until 1809 that her brother passed on the right for Jane and her family to

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work