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

How does Jane Austen present the contrasting characters of John Thorpe and Henry Tilney in Northanger Abbey?

Extracts from this document...


How does Jane Austen present the contrasting characters of John Thorpe and Henry Tilney? Present in every love story are two potential love interests for a heroine, Northanger Abbey being no exception. John Thorpe and Henry Tilney are these two men. Jane Austen presents the two men as contrasting characters both in their behaviour and values. The examination of these two characters is used by Austen to present to the reader good and bad social etiquette and more importantly to give her opinion on the attributes of a suitable marriage partner. Catherine's observation of the role models presented by John Thorpe and Henry Tilney is therefore used by Austen to educate and develop Catherine's character as well as forming the basis of her choice of suitor. The description of physical appearance shows from the start that Henry Tilney and John Thorpe are greatly contrasting characters. Austen describes Tilney as 'rather tall', 'quite handsome' and 'gentlemanlike'. This greatly contrasts with the appearance of Thorpe, who unlike Tilney is described as being 'middling height' and 'stout'. Henry Tilney therefore comes across as a distinguished looking man with good manners, whereas the description of John Thorpe implies a short overweight man who is plain, ungraceful and stubborn. ...read more.


However, Tilney's 'address was good' and he had a 'pleasing countenance.' This shows the difference between them both, Tilney coming out of it the better man. The fact that he is well educated yet not snobbish shows that he is a better suitor for Catherine than John Thorpe. Similarly their behaviour towards their siblings differs greatly. John Thorpe seems to use Isabella to get to Catherine. Their relationship is built on a dependency on the other. They use each other to get what they want, and team together to manipulate Catherine into doing things she doesn't want to do, for example when John is trying to take Catherine out by telling her lies 'Isabella corroborated' his points. John is rude towards Isabella, and she isn't very courteous towards him either, however, they are very similar in character. They both want money and in the end team together to get it. Henry Tilney, however, is very caring towards his sister Eleanor. They seem to be friends rather than siblings. When Catherine first sees them both Eleanor is 'leant on his arm' showing them to be close with each other. ...read more.


However when talking to Tilney 'it did not appear to her that life could supply any greater felicity.' She enjoys Henrys company which is a big difference to how she feels around Thorpe. Austen uses the word felicity to highlight Catherine's overall happiness and excitement to be talking to him let alone to just be near him. Also with Thorpe, after only a few acquaintances with him she is 'chiefly anxious to avoid his sight.' This emphasizes the brashness of his character. On the other hand after meeting Tilney, they 'parted on the lady's side at least, with a strong inclination for continuing the acquaintance.' She likes Tilney from the start. She likes his company and is eager to talk to someone like him. The fate of the different characters is determined by Austen's like or dislike of the particular character. She retains the characters that she herself favours, throughout the book, yet the characters she dislikes seem to have their story finished part way through. We hear no more about John Thorpe after he proposes to Catherine; his story ends a sad one. He has not won anything and has just been cut off without a proper ending. Tilney however, is a constant character throughout the book. He gets his happy ending with Catherine in the end. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE 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 GCSE Jane Austen essays

  1. Jane Austen's presentation of Emma as an unlikeable heroine

    Emma is very happy with her wedding and thinks it perfect. This shows perhaps that Emma realises that true perfection isn't the most elaborate or complicated things. It also shows that Emma's need to impress isn't present anymore. She has found what she thinks completes her and this makes her a heroine.

  2. A Comparison of Charles Dickens and Jane Austen

    His inclusion of aspects of the Industrial Revolution in his novel also served to show that his magazine 'Household Words' was knowledgeable regarding contemporary issues. (Page,1985) He also reveals from the start that the education system in Coketown is based on "fact" and not "fancy."

  1. Catherine undergoes an educative process in Northanger Abbey(TM). How does Jane Austen direct her ...

    This first line is the first direct mention of the Catherine's role by Austen. Throughout the entire novel Catherine is constantly compared to the typical gothic heroine. In most if not every chapter Austen seems to mention the gothic comparison, whether it be in a few lines or a few paragraphs.

  2. Northanger Abbey

    I think that Austen has mixed feelings about the gothic tradition. Catherine Morland is a traditional gothic heroine but in the first chapter of the book Jane Austen tells the reader all the different ways in which she is not a typical heroine, for example she is from an ordinary family (healthy mother, ordinary father, not poor and not tragic).

  1. Northanger Abbey

    image in the reader's head and to get across the message that the protagonist is disturbed. There are also typical features on what a gothic writing can hold. For instance, many novels should include at least a fascination for the past or the strangely eccentric/magical/supernatural; psychological insights, representation and stimulation

  2. Jane Austen's use of Gothic Traditions in Northanger AbbeyThe term 'Gothic' was first really ...

    The Gothic novel could be seen as a description of a fallen world and we experience this world through all aspects of the novel: plot, setting, characters and theme. In order for a novel to be Gothic, it must be accurate to Gothic traditions, impeccable language, possibly of old chapters in history.

  1. A103 Introduction to the Humanities

    As Austen turns to the usage of dialogue, as a reader we feel we are actually present and listening to the conversation; it therefore becomes more authentic to us. There is a sense of non-disclosure however and we are left wondering what Darcy is really feeling.

  2. The battle of two halves

    I made my way to the bathroom to wash my face. I had to get my act together. I had to make them suffer. It was eleven in the evening. It was completely dark out side. I made my way towards Emma's house (not far from my own).

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