Classics Reviewed: Northanger Abbey

Read further to find a review of the famous Jane Austens Northanger Abbey.

Dolce Stil Publishing

Read further to find a review of the famous Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey.

The idea of the British Regency Era to the modern reader does not often bring up images of haunted halls, secret passages and wicked schemers, but at the time, these gothic themes were by far the biggest literary trend. “Northanger Abbey” by Jane Austen is a parody of many of the popular gothic novels of her time. Published posthumously in 1817 along with “Persuasion”, “Northanger Abbey” is the story of Catherine Morland, a seventeen-year-old English parson’s daughter, who travels to Bath to partake in the socials and balls in order to find herself a suitable match. Catherine, however, is such a fan of gothic novels that she perceives the events around herself as being a part of one, leading to many strange and ironic circumstances.

If “Northanger Abbey” had to be filed under a genre, it would be coming-of-age. Catherine starts out the novel as being described by the narrator, who is seen as a stand-in for Austen herself, as frequently stupid and rather plain. As the plot progresses though, Catherine is forced to adapt to the many characters who wish to manipulate and take advantage of her wealth and kindness. By the story’s conclusion, the heroine has dealt with gaslighting, abandonment and toxic friendships, which shape her towards maturity and a sense of who she is.

The book is over two centuries old now, and the writing style certainly reflects that. Sentences can be a paragraph long, and descriptions may last for entire pages. Furthermore, the English language today is very different from what it once was, and because of that, parts of the story can be a bit difficult to decipher. On the bright side, the reader will have a much larger vocabulary by the novel’s end. While it can be slow at times, overall, “Northanger Abbey” is very good at conveying its characters and setting through precise and often comedic language.

“Northanger Abbey” by Jane Austen is a delightful coming-of–age story that is great for anyone interested in literature about or from the British Regency Era. The protagonist, Catherine, is a believable heroine, who, while often misled, grows as a person and learns how to deal with liars and manipulators. The intricate world is described with care and gives the modern reader a window into two hundred years into the past. “Northanger Abbey” is a great novel for readers who appreciate vivid descriptions, witty characters, history and of course, an ever-present gothic sense of mystery and drama.