Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey is broadly deemed to be a parody of the Gothic genre of novels. All through its narrative, Austen engages with many properly-recognized Gothic novels of the late eighteenth century by authors such as Ann Radcliffe. Common Gothic set-pieces kind the backbone of many scenes in Austen's narrative, as properly as several renowned (and not-so-renowned) performs becoming straight referenced all through the text. This short article explores some of the methods in which Austen parodies the Gothic genre, the excerpts are from the Oxford World's Classics 2003 edition of the text.
When the protagonist Catherine Morland and her pal, Isabella Thorpe, meet at Bath's Pump-rooms, in chapter six of the 1st volume, their major subject of conversation is the Gothic novel, specially Ann Radcliffe's celebrated function, The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794). Quite a few of this book's narrative events inform a quantity of scenes in the second volume of Austen's novel, specifically these relating Catherine's remain at the eponymous Abbey. The reading list of “horrid novels” – generally referred to as the 'Northanger Canon' – that Isabella has ready for Catherine indicate the vast extent of Gothic literature the naive protagonist is presumably about to absorb. Her subsequent behaviour at Northanger Abbey overtly portrays the influence of Gothic novels on an impressionable teenage girl.
Gothic heroines are commonly portrayed as desirable and sensitive young females. They are also generally prone to sudden bouts of impromptu verse, such as Emily St Aubert, the heroine of The Mysteries of Udolpho. Austen nonetheless designs Catherine as a burlesque of the stereotypical Gothic heroine. The opening chapter of the book describes her physical look in the most unflattering terms: “She had a thin awkward figure, a sallow skin with no colour, dark lank hair, and robust capabilities” (1, 1, p.five). Catherine is also shown to have no unique expertise in writing, drawing or music – “What a strange, unaccountable character!” (1, 1, p.six). But this 'unaccountable character' correctly undermines reader expectations by comically subverting the notion of the 'literary heroine'.
Northanger Abbey itself is rendered in terms contrary to the expectations of Catherine's fevered imagination. It is not a crumbling edifice situated in some remote and mountainous area but alternatively a low-standing constructing appointed with furnishings which “was in all the profusion and elegance of modern day taste” (two, five, p.118), approached “along a smooth, level road of fine gravel” (two, five, p.117).
Catherine's exploits inside the Abbey are deemed a parody of the perilous adventures which often befall the unfortunate heroines of conventional Gothic novels. With her imagination fired by the lurid content material of the books on Isabella's reading list, the inexperienced teenager develops all sorts of wild fancies in regards to her new atmosphere. The mysterious chest she encounters in her bedroom, and the manuscript she discovers in the cabinet, are subtle references to Gothic motifs which take place in the novels of Radcliffe and other people. But these motifs are lampooned, for it transpires that the chest contained only a folded cotton counterpane, and the manuscript was nothing at all far more than an inventory of linen.
Undeterred by these setbacks nonetheless, our heroine starts to entertain an unlikely notion that the Abbey's deceased Mistress was truly murdered by her husband Basic Tilney, the owner of Northanger Abbey. In an overt reference to The Mysteries of Udolpho, Catherine supposes that if she had been to discover the family members vault and open the late Mrs Tilney's coffin, what would be the probability that “a waxen figure may be introduced” (two, 9, p.140). In Radcliffe's novel, a curious black veil conceals a recumbent figure, of which Emily St Aubert initially believes to be the physique of the Castle's extended dead Mistress.
Several critics think about the character of Basic Tilney to be a moderated version of a common Gothic villain. When Catherine muses that he had “the air and attitude of a Montoni” (two, eight, p.137), she is referring to Count Montoni, the principal villain of The Mysteries of Udolpho. While older schools of criticism regard the Basic as an amusing send-up of the stereotypical Gothic villain, far more current scholarship has viewed him as a representation of the threat of patriarchy. This evaluation regards Austen as using Basic Tilney as a suggests to highlight the dangers that an inherently patriarchal society poses to young females such as Catherine Morland. While the Basic is not portrayed as openly villainous – bent on imprisonment, rape and murder – he is nevertheless shown to have an excessive interest in the extent of the heroine's wealth, comparable to Count Montoni.
Northanger Abbey is a literary text which engages with a great deal of the literature of its time, specifically the Gothic novel. Operates by Ann Radcliffe and other people are correctly incorporated and parodied by way of Catherine Morland's adventures.