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Jane Austen's use of Gothic Traditions in Northanger AbbeyThe term 'Gothic' was first really used by Italian writers who 'accredited' what they thought was the ugliness

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Jane Austen's use of Gothic Traditions in Northanger Abbey The term 'Gothic' was first really used by Italian writers who 'accredited' what they thought was the ugliness of the art and architecture of the twelfth to fifteenth centuries. They often related this art and architecture to the northern tribes of German Barbarians known as the 'Goths'; these were the first to corrupt the style of the grand architecture back. They would make towers that were too tall, walls that were too thick and arches that were too steeply pointed - thus destroying the architecture of the generation. By adding such grotesque and mysterious objects such as gargoyles, the Italian writers seemed as though they were just adding insult to injury. They were horrified. But just as 'Gothic' was at its peak around the mid-fourteenth century, it seemed to decline slowly and make its way into a history book, never to be seen again. But by the late eighteenth century, the Gothic revival was back in business, and more popular than ever before! The Gothic revival was first started by a man named Horace Walpole (1717-1797), as a reaction against the Classicism of the previous era. Horace was a writer who transformed his simple home into the most Gothic building of its age. It had pillars, vaults, arches, and a great tower. This signalled the beginning of a new cultural era. Walpole's Gothic house was inspired by a dream, which he could only describe as " I had thought myself in an ancient castle..." Inspired by his vision, Walpole sat down and produced 'The Castle of Otranto', the world's first Gothic novel and named one of the most influential novels in the history of English literature. ...read more.


Once again, an anticlimax, which leaves Catherine very surprised (and embarrassed, when Miss Tilney enters shortly afterwards). Later on in this Chapter, Catherine comes to discover a Japan Cabinet: "She took her candle and look closely at the cabinet. It was not absolutely ebony and gold; but it was Japan". Catherine (like any other Gothic heroine) is intrigued by this new discovery, and decides to open it, hoping the contents would be more exciting than them of the chest. Thr sequence of events happen by night, giving the cabinet an almost mysterious awe about it, which would only add to the tone of the passage. Austen uses words like "mysteriously", "the wind roared" and "the rain beat down in torrents against the windows" to give the scene an even more gothic-like tone. Catherine finds that however hard she turns the key on the cabinet, however she manages to open it "the door suddenly yielded to her hand: her heart leaped with exultation at such a victory" revealing a series of lesser bolts and doors within the cabinet. Catherine's curiosity would not stop there. She decided to delve further into the cabinet of mystery! A lot of the text on the page is devoted to the examination of this cabinet. "With less alarm and greater eagerness she seized a second, a third, a fourth--each was equally empty": this was describing the many smaller drawers within the Japan Cabinet, all with seemingly obvious, predictable outcomes - they contained nothing. The tension has become somewhat lost however in one of the other drawers Catherine finds a parchment: "her eyes directly fell on a roll of paper pushed back into the further part of the cavity". ...read more.


but how grossly mistaken in everything else!--in Miss Tilney's meaning, in her own calculation!", Catherine expected to enter a room full of mysterious torture instruments and dungeon-like atmosphere. Instead, there was normal furniture, paintings and various other decorations: "She saw a large, well-proportioned apartment, an handsome dimity bed, arranged as unoccupied with an housemaid's care, a bright Bath stove, mahogany wardrobes, and neatly painted chairs, on which the warm beams of a western sun gaily poured through two sash windows" - yet again we see the over descriptive language which is ever present in the novel. This is an anticlimax and not Gothic because Catherine was expecting something very different. Northanger Abbey is the epitome of Gothic Spoof. Jane Austen succeeds in mocking what Gothic novels are all about, the content and the way the characters act, as well as the young teenage girls who read them. The description of places and objects is amusingly hyperbolic, and excellent as a parody of a gothic novel. It has to be, because the trend of Gothic novels is to have deep descriptions, and Austen is able to utilize the gothic traditions and add to them somewhat ridiculously! Austen makes good use of the characters i.e. Catherine, and you are able to see what they do and what they think. Austen is good at writing in a gothic style - she builds up tension and pulls us in, only to let there be an anticlimax and let us down. She makes good use of Ann Radcliffe's Mysteries of Uldopho and the way she entwined some of the ideas from that book to this novel. ?? ?? ?? ?? Edward Gooch ...read more.

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