Northanger Abbey

Northanger Abbey as a Parody of the Gothic Novel College

Jane Austen is universally known for her uniquely intimate and precise descriptions of every-day life in late 18th and early 19th century England, and her plots are oftentimes focused on the humorous adventures of women who attempt to navigate the structures of polite society. While Austen’s first novel, Northanger Abbey (1803), has not accumulated the same cultural following as some of her others, the text is nonetheless notable as an introduction to Austen’s characteristically “realist” style of writing. The story intimately follows the exploits of Catherine Moreland, whose attempts to navigate English society are oftentimes made humorous by her imaginative view of reality, which is deeply influenced by the Gothic novels. In many ways, Northanger Abbey is notable for its definitively “Austenian” sense of humor, something which is most apparent in the way in which Austen parodies popular Gothic novels of her time. However, the novel operates as a parody of the Gothic novel in order to illuminate the true stylistic essence of the novel: realism. Austen experiments with the developing literary trends of the Romantic period (particularly Gothic writing) in order to help establish a new novelistic style which focuses on ordinary...

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