There are three main environments in which the novel, Northanger
Abbey, is set.
The initial location is Fullerton and it is from here Catherine begins
her journey. This is also the place to which Catherine returns at the
end of the narrative. By the very fact that Fullerton is located at
the start and the end of Catherine's journey, it can be used as a
comparison with the other locations in the novel.
Catherine wants to leave Fullerton, as it is not exciting enough and
certainly not as glamorous a place as the second location, Bath.
Indeed, the Allens, who own the majority of the land in Fullerton, are
happy to spend much of the year socialising in Bath. Mrs Allen takes
Catherine to Bath because "adventures do not befall a young lady in
her own village". Although Catherine has a strong desire for adventure
and may exaggerate the "sleepiness" of Fullerton, it does seem to be a
quiet and sedate place. There is little opportunity for her to meet
new people of her own age and social class and it appears that nothing
of any note ever happens.
Fullerton, does however, have positive attributes. It is the home of
Catherine's family, who are a stable and supportive unit. The people
of Fullerton are more genuine than in Bath as the permanent residences
require them to be sincere and eradicate the opportunity for the kind
of trickery Catherine encounters from Isabella Thorpe in Bath.
The second focal environment is Bath. The comparison with Fullerton
highlights the fact that Bath is an exciting place, a place filled
with visitors, rather than residents. This creates an air of
falseness, which is ironic as Bath is the genuine geographical
location, as opposed to Fullerton, which is fictional. Bath is a place
with which Austen is familiar and she seems to be aware of its vices.
Austen uses Bath to underline the gulf between it and the rather less
On arriving in Bath, it is strange that although Bath is such a
thriving town of social activity, she fails to make new acquaintances
or renew any old ones. It is here that Catherine meets Henry Tilney
and the Thorpe family.
Bath lacks the stability of Fullerton and it is this insincerity that
enables Bath to be seen as a place where it is easy to practise
deceit. Bath is full of "new acquaintances" and thus easy to befriend
and utilise people to assist in any schemes and to fall back upon, if
caught. It is here that Isabella deceives the trusting Catherine for
longer than would be possible in a close nit environment like
In contrast to Isabella, Catherine's new friend, Henry Tilney, is
aware of the falseness of Bath. He puts up with the shallow