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A Discussion On The Development Of Catherine Morland's Character During Her Stay At Northanger Abbey . (Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen)

2035 words - 8 pages

Austen introduces her heroine in a remarkable manner. The focus is on Catherine Morland's plainness and her rather unimportant situation in life. She is in fact introduced as a Gothic Literature anti-heroine. "The standard heroine of a sentimental Gothic novel was refined, accomplished, unassailably virtous, and, of course, fount of sensibility" (Ehrenpreis, 13). Her 'thin, awkward figure," "inattentiveness" and "occasional stupidity"(Austen, 7) provides great potential for improving. Catherine's maturation process starts when she steps out of her comfortable, familiar home environment right into the busteling excitement of Bath and there, "Catehrine, named in the first sentence of a novel, is sure to be a heroine, whatever that means" (Brownstein, 36).Catherine's development is not due solely to her own efforts. She is constantly pushed down the road of maturity by many characters, but especially by the much admired Henry Tilney. "Catherine's necessary hero is introduced to her altogether prosaically, as a dance partner, by the master of ceremonies whose job it is to make such introductions"(Brownstein, 38).He is one of the first people she befriends in Bath, and "she is most powerfully struck, of course, by the seemingly inexhaustible brilliance of Henry Tilney"(Castle, 32). The manner in which she loses her heart so completely and immediately on him emphasises her naïveté.Another friend Catherine made while staying in Bath is Isabella Thorpe, who is much m ore accustomed to the sophisticated society they are expected to form a part of. Catherine's trusting heart is quickly manipulated by the superficial Isabella. Isabella flutters into Catherine's life like a butterfly, resting only long enough to be admired, but never long enough to be caught or understood. She becomes Catherine's confidant and with a superficial air Isabella gains Catherine's trust. Isabella is not accountable to anyone and often does not mean what she says, such as the time the Thorpes and the Morlands are at the theatre and she says to James Morland : "Now, Mr Morland, I s hall not speak another word to you all the rest of the evening, so I charge you not to expect it (Austen, 61). Admittedly this is a very noble thing to do in order to pay attention to one's best friend, but after a symphony of flattery and mindless chatter she "[smiles] incredulously and [talks] the rest of the evening to James"(Austen, 62).Catherine's ability to judge a character is not at all developed in this early stage of her friendship with Isabella. Several things happen at Northanger Abbey which contribute dramatically to Catherine's maturation. There is a definite change in character by the time Catherine receives a letter from Isabella during her stay at Northanger Abby. It Is safe to say that Isabella has not changed much, she uses the same flattering, hyperbolic terms such as " greatest delight", "thousand apologies" and she claims that she "[has] had a pen in [her] hand to begin...

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