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This essay will discuss the role of

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Discuss the role of friendship in Northanger Abbey. This essay will discuss the role of friendship in Northanger Abbey by examining the different types of friendships between Catherine Morland, Isabella Thorpe and Eleanor Tilney in the novel, alongside the significance of friendship to the plot and themes of the novel. Whether one can regard only true friendships as important will also be explored. In Northanger Abbey (NA) there are two main friendships, that of Catherine and Isabella and Catherine and Eleanor. These two friendships can be seen as a total contrast to one another. Catherine is very pleased to meet Isabella after being disappointed in not seeing Mr Tilney again. The narrator informs the reader that Catherine is fortunate in finding a friend as 'Friendship is certainly the finest balm for the pangs of disappointed love.' (p.18 NA). Isabella being the elder of the two has much more knowledge of fashionable society than Catherine and is, therefore, able to teach her a great deal about the expectations of society at that time. Catherine initially looks up to Isabella and considers herself lucky to have found such a good friend (p.19 NA). ...read more.


Eleanor speaks in complete balanced sentences, always being tactful and considerate. Eleanor does nothing to ruin the friendship she has with Catherine until the end of the novel when she tells Catherine that she has to leave Northanger Abbey. Eleanor is very upset at having to do this and professes to be a 'most unwilling messenger' (p.180 NA), but nonetheless she carries out the wishes of her father without, as far as the reader is aware, any argument. She is unable to even explain General Tilney's actions suggesting that she has not questioned him at all. This is an excellent example of the patriarchal society Gilbert & Gubar speak about in the Critical Reader (p.177). Although Eleanor regards Catherine as a sister, she is unable to stand up to or question her father's actions. She asks Catherine to write to her 'under cover to Alice' (p.185 NA) in order not to upset her father. General Tilney has total control over Eleanor, even so far as choosing who her friends are. At the beginning of Northanger Abbey, Austen's use of irony can be seen when she refers to Catherine learning the fable of 'The Hare and many Friends' (p.2 NA). ...read more.


Although Isabella's friendship hurts Catherine, she still gains from it by learning about the world. The false friendship that she encounters with Isabella helps to open Catherine's eyes to the fact that life is not a novel. You cannot believe all that you see, hear or read and one needs to be able to see people for what they really are. Initially, Catherine is unable to see beneath the surface characteristics displayed. It is only as she matures that she is able to see Isabella's insincere, manipulative side. Eleanor's friendship, however, is used to balance Catherine's development. Eleanor treats Catherine with much more respect and helps Catherine to see that not all friendships are false, but whether the reader regards Eleanor to be a completely true friend is questionable as she refuses to stand up to or even question her father. Cicero claimed that 'true friendship is based on mutual harmony and can be very rare', whereby you will do anything for your friend expecting nothing in return. (www.kettering.edu). Eleanor would not quite do anything for her friend. Even though she regarded Catherine as a true friend, Eleanor still puts family loyalty before Catherine even though she disagreed with her father. Nevertheless, both Isabella and Eleanor's friendships in Northanger Abbey are crucial for developing and maturing Catherine's character. ...read more.

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