Northanger Abbey

Realism or Romance

The realistic novel, characterized by its presentation of reality and rational philosophy, was a genre created in response to the romantic, or "gothic," novel and which was characterized by sensationalist escapism. In contrast to romanticism's poetic and dreamlike language, the diction of the realistic novel was more natural and simple-often making use of satire or dialogue. Realism tended to focus more on character study rather than on actual plot, and lacked the fantastic events of the gothic novel. However, Jane Austen's novel Northanger Abbey broke from the conventions of both literary techniques in that it utilized aspects from both realism and romanticism.

Austen's use of dialogue and satire, as well as the ordinary events depicted through the novel, highlight the realistic aspects of the work. Rather than employing the flowery, romantic words recalling those used by writers such as Pope, Grey and Thompson (5), this piece uses matter-of-fact dialogue between the characters to describe the events. For example, Henry Tilney's interaction with Catherine (15) is comprised mainly of dialogue, and relies upon their speech rather than on narrative description. The speaker uses tone and free indirect...

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