Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Northanger Abbey (Barnes & Noble Classics Series) by Jane Austen, Paperback  | Barnes & Noble®

The most common setting in 17th century Gothic fiction is the conflict between female desire and family tradition: the object of a daughter’s love contradicts the orders of her in-laws, and the father is determined to bring about the marriage. Conflict between an overbearing father and his daughter over marriage is a prominent feature of Gothic novels. The father wants to be in the right family, the daughter wants to be in love. This prominent feature exists objectively in Northanger Abbey. It should be said that there is some kind of Gothic reality that Catherine encounters, that she gets caught up in, that her marriage is blocked. Now, of course, it could be argued that the marriage conventions of the time made the novel merely a reflection of social reality.

However, gothic novels also reflect the social reality in their own unique way. There is no essential difference between them. As far as marriage is concerned, they are both Gothic marriages. For example, it features smart, beautiful young women who have to go through some kind of hardship to get their way and end up marrying a rich young man. Gothic fiction often takes place in gothic castles or monasteries, emphasizing mysterious and terrifying rooms, staircases full of ghosts, dark and hidden passages, and so on. The setting of the novel is taken from the heroine Catherine’s first impression of Northanger Abbey. Catherine was an innocent and kind woman.

In her eyes, this place was full of mystery, the small windows, the melancholy architecture, the colorful glass, and the cobweb walls all inspired her infinite imagination. Because at the beginning of her visit to Northanger Abbey, the protagonist Catherine was deeply influenced by gothic novels. So even the normal environment of things in her eyes will produce a magical color. Northanger Abbey is partly constructed from the gothic style of language. It comes from the popular gothic novel and social trend at that time.

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