Northanger abbey as a parody of the gothic novel



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Masaryk University

Faculty of Education

Department of the English Language and Literature

NORTHANGER ABBEY

AS A PARODY OF THE GOTHIC NOVEL

Final thesis


Written by: Mgr. Marcela Jurtíková

Supervisor: Mgr. Lucie Podroužková, Ph.D.


Brno 2006



DECLARATION:
I declare that I have compiled this final thesis by myself and that I used only the sources listed in the bibliography.
I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Miss Lucie Podroužková for her valuable guidance.


CONTENTS


Introduction …………………………………………………………….

4







1 English novel ………………………………………………………………

6

1.1 Sentimental novel …………………………………………………….

7

1.2 Gothic novel ………………………………………………………….

8

1.3 Jane Austen as an author of the English novel .………………………

11







2 Northanger Abbey ………………………………………………………….

15

2.1 Elements of the Gothic novel, their representation and parody in Northanger Abbey …………………………………………………..

20








Conclusion ………………………………………………………………

29

Resumé ………………………………………………………………….

31

Bibliography …………………………………………………………….

33





Introduction
Jane Austen (1775 – 1817), who is this work chiefly about, is considered one of the most famous English novelists. She is sometimes compared with Shakespeare.

She was the daughter of a clergyman and received an education superior to that generally given to girls of her time. She spent the first twenty-five years of her life at Steventon, her father’s Hampshire vicarage, where she wrote her first novels Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensiblity, and Northanger Abbey. On father’s retirement in 1801, the family moved to Bath for several years, then to Southampton, and lastly to Chawton, which was Jane’s home for the rest of her life. (www.bartleby.com)

Of her six novels, four, Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park and Emma, were published anonymously, only as ‘a lady’, during her life-time, and the others, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, appeared a few months after her death, when the name of the author was divulged. (http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi)

Jane Austen’s novels are comedies of manners. Despite of living in a stormy period, she does not mention any political events in her literature. She describes the most natural and everyday incidents in the life of the middle and upper classes. Most of her works are focused on the delicate business, which is to find a rich fiancé and marry well.

Although Jane Austen wrote her novels at the end of the eighteenth and at the beginning of the nineteenth centuries, she is very popular up to now, especially for her vivid narration, lively description of characters, her superb sense of irony, and her moral firmness. She ridicules the silly, the affected, and the stupid, and she is considered a master of a dialogue. (www.bartleby.com)

Jane Austen’s art grew out of the traditions of sentimental novels and she often alludes to its conventions. Northanger Abbey, one of her first novels, contains some features of sentimentalism but in particular it is a parody of the Gothic novel, which was very popular at Austen’s time. The author employs its elements and tries to satirize them. She ridicules the people’s desire for something mysterious and supernatural. People are overwhelmed by this desire and it leads them to the fear of absolutely common situation.

The aim of this work is to analyse the elements of the Gothic novel in Austen’s Northanger Abbey. It is connected with the main characters of the novel, who are influenced by reading the very popular genre. This work is focused on different features of the Gothic novel, including its language, their representation in Northanger Abbey, and finding how they are satirized by the author.

The work consists of two main chapters. First one deals with the English novel in general, and with its two kinds – Sentimental novel and Gothic novel. In the first chapter Jane Austen is described as an author of the English novel. The second chapter deals with Jane Austen’s novel Northanger Abbey. Firstly there is depicted its content, and then the work is focused on the elements of the Gothic novel, how they are demonstrated and parodied in Northanger Abbey.



1 English novel
A word ‘novel’ is from French nouvelle, which means ‘new’. It is extended fictional narrative in prose. It became one of the major literary genre in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. (http://en.wikipedia.org )

As the first flowering of the English novel was seen in Romantic period it is appropriate to write something about it.

Romanticism originated in the late eighteenth century in Western Europe. It is a movement in art and literature in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in revolt against the Neoclassicism of the late seventeenth and the eighteenth centuries. Neoclassicism sought to revive the artistic ideals of classical Greece and Rome. While Neoclassicism was characterized by emotional restraint, order, logic, elegance of diction, an emphasis of form over content, clarity, dignity, and decorum, the main points of Romanticism are imagination, emotion, and freedom. Appeals of Neoclassicism were to the intellect rather than to the emotions, and it prized wit over imagination. As for Romanticism, particular characteristics of the literature includes subjectivity and an emphasis on individualism; spontaneity; freedom from rules; solitary life rather than life in society; the beliefs that imagination is superior to reason and devotion to beauty; love of and worship of nature; and fascination with the past, especially the myths and mysticism of the middle ages. It stressed strong emotion, the individual imagination, overturning of previous social conventions, and the importance of ‘nature’. It is also noted for its elevation of the achievements of what is perceived as heroic individuals and artists. It followed the Enlightment period and was inspired by a revolt against aristocratic social and political norms from the previous period. (www.uh.edu/engines)

The novel in the nineteenth century described the life on the British Isles, worsening social problems, and deepening class conflicts.

It is also important to recognize the role that the contemporary reader played in the history of the English novel. For many years, novels were considered light reading for young, single women, so they often contained sometimes heavy moral instruction. Later the novel was penetrating many reader layers and addressed more fully than other literary genres, the problems of the whole society. (http://en.wikipedia.org )
Women, especially Jane Austen, made a significant contribution to the literature of this era.

Jane Austen started to write at a time when the Romantic movement was expressing its passionate involvement with the landscape, in particular, the melancholic aspects of gothic ruins, and the natural world in general. She was one of the few writers to adopt in irreverent attitude to this obsession. Jane Austen’s detached, ironic style was an antithesis of the Romantic ideal. Many people have commented on the modernity of her novels. She followed in the wake of the success of Fielding and Richardson and her sense of comedy and style has been likened to that of Fielding. She is noted for the precision of her observations. Her attention to detail is a means to enlighten a subject. (www.britannia.com)

Main inspiration for Jane Austen was Samuel Richardson who is considered a precursor of the Romantic novel and the nineteenth-century novel of social realism. Austen was inspired by the centrality of women to his novels both character and narrative voice, connected with the text’s animated social exchanges and incisive social observation. (www.litencyc.com)

1.1 Sentimental novel

A sentimental novel is a type of novel which was popularized in the eighteenth century. By the end of the eighteenth century, when the sentimental novel flourished, the term ‘sentimental’ had come to mean ‘concerned with the emotions’. People liked to believe, with Jean-Jacques Rousseau, that the natural emotions were good, kindly and innocent. Society, law and civilization were to blame for corrupting man; left alone by social institutions, he would be wise, happy and good. This was a controversial view because it contradicted orthodox Christian teaching that man was born in a state of original sin and could only be saved by God’s grace. (Ousby 1992, 888)

Sentimental novel is a part of romantic novel and similarly, it is characterized by extreme emotion, which attempts to elicit an extreme emotional response in the reader. “It may leave the reader with an optimistic and positive outlook on humanity and human nature.” (http://classiclit.about.com)

Although Samuel Richardson himself did not agree with Rousseau, the higly charged emotions of Pamela and Clarissa made an important contribution to the sentimental novel.

Novels like Henry Brooke’s The Fool of Quality and Henry Mackenzie’s The Man of Feeling set out to show that effusive emotion was evidence of a good heart, though sentimental characters often found themselves too good for this world and the world too much for them. The heroes and heroines were beautiful, brilliant, talented and morally perfect.(Ousby 1992, 888)

Oliver Goldsmith’s The Vicar of Wakefield, a tragicomedy of clerical life, is frequently included among the hundreds of sentimental novels produced in the period, although it is arguably an early parody. Other examples of sentimental novels include: Laurence Sterne’s A Sentimental Journey, and Thomas Day’s The History of Sandford and Merton. (http://classiclit.about.com)

Sentimentalism was associated with ‘sensibility’ but it had become less fashionable than it was suspected by the end of the century.

Jane Austen mocked its excesses in Sense and Sensibility and in Northanger Abbey stressed Catherine Morland’s ordinariness by contrast to the heroines of the novel of sensibility.

Hannah More saw in ‘ungoverned sensibility’ the roots of profligacy, murder or suicide. In Strictures on the Modern System of Female Education, she wrote of the sentimental novel:

‘Such is the frightful facility of this species of composition, that every raw girl, while she reads, is tempted to fancy that she can also write…the glutted imagination soon overflows with the redundance of cheap sentiment and plentiful incident…’; such works ‘teach, that chastity is only individual attachment; that no duty exist which is not prompted by feeling; that impulse is the main spring of virtuous actions, while laws and religion are only unjust restraints.’ (Ousby 889)

The word ‘sentimental’ came to mean ‘false and selfindulgent feeling’ after Schiller’s division of poets into two classes; the ‘naïve’ writers who are natural and instinctive, and ‘sentimental’ ones who are forced and artificial. (Ousby 889)

1.2 Gothic novel

‘Gothic’ has come to mean quite a number of things by this day and age. It could mean a particular style of art, be it in the form of novels, paintings, or architecture; it could mean ‘medieval’ or ‘uncouth’. What it originally meant, of course, is ‘of, relating to, or resembling the Goths, one of the many Germanic tribes, their civilization, or their language’ (‘Gothic’).

Later the word ‘gothic’ meant anything else – a particulat type of architecture, mainly those built during the Middle Ages, a certain type of novels, so named because they seem to take place in Gothic-styled architecture – castles, mansions, abbeys. (http://cai.ucdavis.edu)

Thus the Gothic novel is a type of novel that flourished in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries in England. They became enormously popular in England and the United States during the 1960s. It acts, however, as a reaction against the rigidity and formality of other forms of Romantic literature. Both Romantic and Gothic novel imagined almost-supernatural forces operating in nature or directing human fate. The plots hinged on suspense and mystery involving the fantastic and the supernatural. Gothic novel is also called ‘romance of terror’.

“The word ‘Gothic’ had come to mean ‘wild’, ‘barbarous’, and ‘crude’, qualities which writers found it attractive to cultivate in reaction against the sedate Neoclassicism of earlier eighteenth century culture.” (Ousby 405)

Gothic novels were usually set in the past (most often the medieval past) and in foreign countries (particularly the Catholic countries of southern Europe). As was said above, they took place in monasteries, castles, dungeons, and mountainous landscapes.


The Gothic takes its roots from former terrorizing writing that dates back to the Middle Ages, and can still be found written today by writers such as Stephen King. The Gothic novel could be seen as a description of a fallen world.

The setting is greatly influential. It not only evokes the atmosphere of horror and dread, but also portrays the deterioration of its world. The ruined scenery implied that at one time there was a thriving world, that the abbey, castle, or landscape was something treasured and appreciated. Now all of them is decaying.

The Gothic hero is usually isolated either voluntarily or involuntarily. The Wanderer, found in many Gothic tales, is the prototype of isolation as he wanders the earth in perpetual exile. Then there is the villain, who is the protagonist of evil.

Gothic novels usually concern spirited young women, either governesses or new brides, who go to live in large gloomy mansions populated by peculiar servants. The Gothic creates feelings of gloom, mystery, and suspense and tends to the dramatic and the sensational. It crosses boundaries, daylight and the dark side, life and death, consciousness and unconsciousness. Sometimes covertly, sometimes explicitly, it presents transgression, taboos, and fears.

“Even though the Gothic novel deals with sublime and the supernatural, the underlying theme of the fallen hero applies to the real world as well. Once we look past the terror aspect of this literature, we can connect with it on a human level. Furthermore, the prevalent fears of murder, rape, sin, and the unknown are fears that we face in life. In the Gothic world they are merely multiplied.” (http://cai.ucdavis.edu)

Horace Walpole is considered the founder of the Gothic novel, whose work The Castle of Otranto contains all the elements that constitute the genre. His “novel was imitated not only in the eighteenth century and not only in the novel form, but it has influenced writing, poetry, and even film making up to the present day.” (www.virtualsalt.com/gothic)

He is followed by Clara Reeve and Ann Radcliffe. Radcliffe’s novel The Mysteries of Udolph, which is parodied in Northanger Abbey, was written in 1794 and it is considered one of the most famous and popular Gothic novels of the eighteenth century. It was the fourth of five Radcliffe’s novels and most well-liked. Radcliffe was a very rational person and did not believe in supernatural, which is reflected in The Mysteries of Udolpho. The mysterious happenings always have a natural and probable explanation. Radcliffe’s strengths in writing were in describing scenery as well as suspense and terror. One of the most recurring themes is the quality of sensibility in her characters. She sketched the mysterious material by lyrical description of beauties of nature and she tried to clear all mysteries up. “The novel is set in Europe in the year 1584. The main character, Emily, is forced to travel through France and Italy, living in dark, scary, old castles along the mountains and the sea. She encounters a variety of terrifying scenes and characters. Her sensibility comes into play in determining how she handles these situations with composure.” (http://teachers.edenpr.org)

Other autors were for example Matthew Gregory Lewis (The Monk), and Charles Robert Maturin (Melmoth the Wanderer). Their influence can be felt in Mary Shelly´s Frankenstein, the novels of the Brontë sisters, the stories of Edgar Allan Poe in American literature, and in some Romantic poetry (e. g. Coleridge´s Christabel) (Peck 2002, 122)


The Gothic novel has received much criticism. Critics have analyzed “various elements of the Gothic novel and tie those elements with the repressed feelings of individuals and, in a twentieth century perspective, the unconscious of the human psyche.” (http://cai.ucdavis.edu) Some critics consider the idea of a protagonist having a struggle with a terrible, surreal person or force to be a metaphor for an individual’s struggle with repressed emotions or thoughts. They are horrible not only because of what they are, but also because of how they enslave a person.

By the 1790s, many felt that the Gothic novel was an exhausted trend, and other authors were starting to write against it. One of the authors, who react to the genre in the form of the Gothic parody, was Jane Austen. The parody of the Gothic novel is developed in her novel Northanger Abbey. (http://cai.ucdavis.edu)



1.3 Jane Austen as an author of the English novel

Jane Austen is considered the first great woman novelist. She drew on Fielding and Richardson and had a great influence on development of the novel of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Jane Austen was mostly tutored at home, and irregularly at school, but she received a broader education than many women of her time. She started to write for family amusement as a child. Very shy about her writing, she wrote on small pieces of paper that she slipped under the desk plotter if anyone came into the room. In her letters she observed the daily life of her family and friends in an intimate and gossipy manner. (http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi)

When she was twenty she composed a sketch called Elinor and Marianne, which was later published as Sense and Sensibility. An earlier version of the work was probably written in the form of letters and read aloud to the family. There are two main characters, two different Dashwood sisters, Marianne and Elinor, who try to find proper husbands to secure their social position. Although Austen was a writer of Romantic period, her heroines are not only romantic. The heroines of the novel Sense and sensibility are evidence of it. The Romantic Marianne, ruled by sensibility and feeling, is the reverse of reasonable and sensitive Elinor. Marianne likes to read and express her feelings, Elinor prefers to draw and design and be silent about her desires. “Although the plot favors the value of sense over that of sensibility, the greatest emphasis is placed on the moral complexity of human affairs and on the need for enlarged and subtle thought and feeling in response to it.”(www.galegroup.com)

Austen’s first published work, Sense and Sensibility (1811) shows the conflict between the Enlightment cult of reason and the new cult of feelings.

One of his best-known works, Pride and Prejudice (1813), pictures both the pride and the prejudice in a man and a woman, and shows the resulting conflict and tension between reason and feelings.

Later novels include Emma (1816), Mansfield park (1814), and Persuasion (1818). The latter two develop a Cinderella theme, Emma is the exact opposite. A rich, beautiful and clever woman overcomes a range of negative traits including pride and prejudice. It is a deep study in psychology and human nature.

Austen’s novels mainly depict lives of the upper-middle classes or aristocratic families in country, with the visits, conversations, balls, and weddings as the main events. It shows author’s sensitive reaction to contemporary life. She came from an upper-middle class family and drew on intimately known environment. She reflected her own experiences in different characters, dialogues and scenes. She often wrote about marriage-anxious girls, their mothers, who work off their energy by chasing rich potential husbands. The other characters are usually idlers, crawlers, cheaters, snobs, dullheads, busybodies, and gossips. The main characters are usually dynamic and fully developed, while the minor characters are flatter and static and become alive through her use of sharp satire and irony. (Peck 2002, ch. VI)

Jane Austen wrote six novels in which she followed the English and French examples, among them Fanny Burney, Samuel Johnson, and William Cowper. She became the founder of the domestic novel, which is the novel of the family life. Adhering to contemporary convention for female authors, she published her novels anonymously only as ‘a lady’. While her novels achieved a measure of popular success, her anonymity kept her out of leading literary circles. Later, her proud brother, Henry, let it be known and she became instantly famous. (http://en.wikipedia.org)

“Although all her works are love stories and her career coincided with the Romantic movement in English literature, Jane Austen was no Romantic. Passionate emotion usually carries danger and the young women who exercises rational moderation is more likely to find real happiness than one who elopes with a lover.” (http://en.wikipedia.org) Her approach was to show the need for balance between reason and feelings. Her novels combine sharp social observation, profound psychological insights, irony and wit.

Jane Austen’s novels are comedies of manners that depict the self-contained world of provincial ladies and gentlemen. She is particularly noted for her delineations lively description of character, her excellent sense of comic irony, and her moral firmness.

She ridicules the silly, the affected, and the stupid, ranging in her satire from light portraiture in her early works to more scornful exposures in her later novels. Her writing was subjected to the most careful polishing. She was quite aware of her special excellences and limitations, comparing herself to a miniaturist. Today she is regarded as one of the great masters of the English novel. (www.bartleby.com)

All Austen’s works have the main theme and goal of marriage, yet there is no monotony, but rather amusement, as well as a serious study of life. She very closely described the subtleties of personal relationships.

Austen formed a bridge between the enlightened realistic novel of the eighteenth century and the provocative critical realism of the nineteenth century. (Peck 2002, 126)


Jane Austen’s novels were fairly received when they were published, with Sir Walter Scott in particular praising her work: “That young lady has a talent for describing the involvements of feelings and characters of ordinary life which is to me the most wonderful I ever met with.” (http://en.wikipedia.org)
She also earned the admiration of Macaulay, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Robert Southey, Sydney Smith and Edward FitzGerald.

Twenties century scholars rated her among the greatest talents in English letter, sometimes even comparing her to Shakespeare:

Shakespeare has had neither equal nor second. But among the writers who, in the point which we have noticed, have approached nearest to the manner of the great master, we have no hesitation in placing Jane Austen, a woman of whom England is justly proud. She has given a multitude of characters, all in a certain sense common-place, all such as we meet every day. Yet they are all as perfectly discriminated from each other as if they were the most eccentric of human beings. Thomas Babington Macaulay (Great Writers,1993)

Negative views of Austen have also been notable. Charlotte Brontë criticized the narrow scope of Austen’s fiction. Mark Twain’s reaction was revulsion: “Jane Austen? Why I go so far as to say that any library is a good library that does not contain a volume by Jane Austen. Even if it contains no other book.” (http://en.wikipedia.org)

Some contemporary readers may find the world she describes to be constricting and disquieting. Options were limited in this era and both women and men often married for money. Much of the tension in her novels arises from balancing financial necessity against other concerns: love, friendship, and morals.(http://en.wikipedia.org)

2 Northanger Abbey
It is the shortest novel by Jane Austen published posthumously in late December 1817 (given 1818 on the title-page), though it had been begun in 1798 and accepted by a publisher in 1803. It was sold to a bookseller in Bath for £10, but he did not publish it, maybe because the fashion for Gothic fiction was already declining, and after many years it was sold back to the novelist’s brother, Henry Austen, for the exact sum which he had paid for it at the beginning, not knowing that the writer was already the author of four popular novels. This novel was originally titled Susan, which was the name of the main character. Later author renamed the protagonist ‘Catherine’, and changed the title of the novel Northanger Abbey. (http://en.wikipedia.org )

Northanger Abbey differs from Austen’s other novels in its explicit derivation from other works.” (http://www.sparknotes.com) It makes fun of the prevailing fashion for the Gothic fiction. It was written as a satire on Ann Radcliffe´s Mysteries of Udolpho, which was very popular when Austen wrote her novels. (http://www.vanderbilt.edu)

  

The book Northanger Abbey can be divided into two parts which differ especially with settings. First part takes place in Bath, while the second part takes place in Northanger Abbey, which is the mysterious place for the main heroine.



The main character is a seventeen years old girl Catherine Morland, who has grown up in a not very wealthy family in the rural town of Fullerton in Hampshire. The first paragraph of the first chapter, in telling the reader what Catherine is, tells with delicate irony, what she is not. Austen is dwelling upon the extraordinary beauty and ability of romantic heroine. As the story goes on the reader learns that a girl may completely lack this extraordinary beauty and ability. (http://www.bartleby.com) As a young girl she had many interests, but she was never interested enough to be perfect at anything: “She was fond of all boys’ plays, and greatly preferred cricket not merely to dolls, but to the more heroic enjoyments of infancy, nursing a dormouse, feeding a canary-bird, or watering a rose-bush.” (pp. 1-2)

As a teenager she is interested in reading books, particularly novels. The adolescent Catherine begins to be interested in sensibility, as a part of the maturing process of a young eighteenth-century woman. In the eighteenth century, sensibility was seen by many as the correct expression of femininity. (http://www.cardiff.ac.uk)

The Morlands’ friends, the Allens, invite Catherine to spend six weeks with them in Bath. Catherine accepts their invitation and she leaves Fullerton for Bath with a modest sum of money from her father. She spends her time visiting friends and going to balls. At first she has no partner for dancing so she is introduced to a young man named Henry Tilney, a clergyman of respectable family in Gloucestershire, who flirts with Catherine. She is very impressed by him and falls in love.

Mrs. Allen often complains about the lack of friends and one day she meets Mrs. Thorpe, who was her schoolmate. She has three daughters, the oldest of whom is Isabella. She uses the language of sentimental excess to mask her shallowness.  Sentimental language is used when Austen describes the nascent friendship between Catherine and Isabella (http://www.cardiff.ac.uk): “They called each other by their Christian name, were always arm-in-arm when they walked, pinned up each other’s train for the dance, and were not to be divided in the set …” (p. 24). 

Isabella becomes Catherine’s ‘best friend’. But her friendship with Catherine is just exploitative. The girls spend much time together. Isabella tells Catherine about Bath society, discussing fashion, flirtations, and the attractiveness of young men and women. Catherine tells Isabella about Henry Tilney, and Isabella encourages Catherine’s love. They occasionally spend their time by reading novels. Isabella recommends Catherine the Gothic novel The Mysteries of Udolpho and as Catherine is keen on it, Isabella offers her other Gothic novels: “Castle of Wolfenbach, Clermont, Mysterious Warnings, Necromancer of the Black Forest, Midnight Bell, Orphan of the Rhine, and Horrid Mysteries.” (p. 27)

One day James Morland, Catherine’s brother, and John Thorpe, Isabella’s brother, come to Bath. John seems to be interested in Catherine, but he is very shallow and vain. He only cares about his carriage and horse, he does not like reading and has not much knowledge of literature:

“Novels are all so full of nonsense and stuff; there has not been a tolerably decent one come out since Tom Jones, except the Monk; I read that t’other day; but as for all the others, they are the stupidest things in creation.” “I think you must like Udolpho, if you were to read it; it is so very interesting.”

“Not I, faith! No, if I read any, it shall be Mrs. Radcliff's; her novels are amusing enough; they are worth reading; some fun and nature in them.” “Udolpho was written by Mrs. Radcliff,” said Catherine, with some hesitation, from the fear of mortifying him. (p.36)

Catherine is asked by John to dance with him at the ball for that night. She is very happy, but John does not engage her and while she is waiting for him, Catherine meets Henry Tilney and his sister Eleanor, who seems to be a better friend for Catherine than Isabella. A few days later General Tilney, Henry and Eleanor’s father, arrive in Bath and Catherine has an opportunity to meet him. He is very gracious to her.

Catherine spends more time with Henry and Eleanor Tilney and it is very pleasant for her. She can talk about literature and art to them. Isabella has ignored Catherine for several days, because she has refused her invitation to visit Clifton with her, James and John. Instead she goes for a walk with Tilneys. One day she finds out from Isabella that she is engaged to her brother James Morland. She seems to be in love with him:

“For my own part,” said Isabella, “my wishes are so moderate, that the smallest income in nature would be enough for me. Where people are really attached, poverty itself is wealth: grandeur I detest: I would not settle in London for the universe. A cottage in some retired village would be extasy. There are some charming little villas about Richmond.” (p. 108)

But what she says is not really true. She is convinced that she will be provided enough by her husband’s family and people will be jealous of her wealth. But they could not marry for about three years, till James would be able to take responsibility for his father’s parish.

Catherine also meets Captain Frederick Tilney, Henry’s older brother, who flirts with Isabella.

Catherine is very satisfied in Bath and realizes that Mr. and Mrs. Allens are going to leave Bath soon. She wants to spend as much time as possible with Henry Tilney and his sister. She is very surprised by having been invited to the Northanger Abbey by Tilneys and she is delighted to accept the invitation.

The main character, Catherine Morland, develops within the first part of the novel. At the beginning she is very naive, inexperienced and gullible. She considers Isabella the best friend, because she seems to be always flattering and very kind to her. In fact she is very shallow and dishonest like her brother John. Although Catherine does not like John, she cannot see Isabella’s bad qualities. At the end of the first part she tries to distinguish who is the best friend for her, and sometimes she doubts frankness of Isabella’s behaviour. She slowly starts trying to understand people and their motivations.

The second part of the novel takes place in the Northanger Abbey, which is a mysterious place for Catherine. She is influenced by reading Radcliffe’s book and is confident that the Abbey is as mysterious as places described in the Gothic novels.

On the way Henry Tilney intensifies her feelings, when he tells her about the horrors she can meet there. He tells her a story filled with mysterious chests, violent storms and hidden passages.

“…Dorothy has given you to understand that there is a secret subterraneous communication between your apartment and the chapel of St. Anthony, scarcely two miles off… you will proceed into this small vaulted room, and through this into several others, without perceiving anything very remarkable in either. In one perhaps there may be a dagger, in another a few drops of blood, and in a third the remains of some instrument of torture; … your lamp being nearly exhausted, you will return towards your own apartment. In repassing through the small vaulted room, however, your eyes will be attracted towards a large, old-fashioned cabinet of ebony and gold, which, though narrowly examining the furniture before, you had passed unnoticed. Impelled by an irresistible presentiment, you will eagerly advance to it, unlock its folding doors, and search into every drawer; -- but for some time without discovering anything of importance -- perhaps nothing but a considerable hoard of diamonds. At last, however, by touching a secret spring, an inner compartment will open -- a roll of paper appears: you seize it -- it contains many sheets of manuscript -- you hasten with the precious treasure into your own chamber, but scarcely have you been able to decipher…” (p.144)

After the arrival, however, nothing seems to be similar Henry’s story-telling and Catherine is a bit dissapointed by modern design of the Abbey. Catherine gets a pleasant room with a large chest full of Eleanor’s hats – nothing mysterious. During a stormy night with creaks and groans that frightened Catherine, she discovers an odd cabinet in her room and a strange manuscript in it. She wants to read it but she is scared by circumstances. In the morning Catherine finds out that the manuscript is nothing but washing bills and she is ashamed for her imagination.

Under the illusion, fostered by John Thorpe, that Catherine is wealthy, General Tilney, Henry´s father, wants Catherine to marry Henry but he says it in the way entirely incomprehensible for Catherine. The General and his daughter Eleanor shows Catherine around the Abbey. Eleanor leads Catherine to the rout which was her mother’s, Mrs. Tilney’s, favourite. They meet the General Tilney’s displeasure and Catherine concludes that he did not love her wife and was not a kind husband. Influenced by reading of novels she considers him a very cruel man. She even suspects the General of killing his own wife. Her suspicion is strengthened when she finds out that Mrs. Tilney died suddenly of an illness while Eleanor was away. Another idea strikes her mind – Mrs. Tilney is still alive locked and hidden in one of the secret rooms, that she decides to explore. But she does not find anything strange. “She saw a large, well-proportioned apartment, an handsome dimity bed, arranged as unoccupied, with an housemaid’s care, a bright Bath stove, mahogany wardrobes and neatly-painted chairs, on which the warm beams of a western sun gaily poured through two sash windows.” (p. 178)

Meanwhile, Henry Tilney’s brother, Captain Tilney, has flirted with Isabella Thorpe and makes her to break off her engagement to James Morland. As he really does not want to be taken in by Isabella, she is left without a husband. Catherine gets letters both from James and from Isabella. Each of them describes the situation differently. Finally Catherine understands the Isabella’s true nature.

She was ashamed of Isabella, and ashamed of having ever loved her. (p. 202)

“So much for Isabella,” she cried, “and for all our intimacy! She must think me an idiot, or she could not have written so; but perhaps this has served to make her character better known to me than mine is to her. I see what she has been about. She is a vain coquette, and her tricks have not answered. I do not believe she had ever any regard either for James or for me, and I wish I had never known her”. (p. 202)

A few days later one unexpected thing happens. After General Tilney’s sudden returning from London Catherine is ordered to leave the Abbey. She does not know the cause of her leaving and feels very humiliated. This action, as she was told by Henry later, was based on false John Thorpe’s claim that Catherine is not a rich heiress as believed and has deceived the General.

“Under a mistaken persusasion of her possessions and claims he had courted her acquaintance in Bath, solicited her company at Northanger, and designed her for his daughter-in-law. On discovering his error, to turn her from the house seemed the best, though to his feelings, an inadequate proof, of his resntment towards herself, and his contempt of her family.” (p. 228)

The false information about Catherine wealth is explained. She has a substatial income and General Tilney finally gives his blessing to Henry’s marriage to Catherine.

While the first part of the novel has no mention of the Gothic novel apart from a reference to Ann Radcliffe’s book The Mysteries of Udolpho, the second one heavily draws on the Gothic elements which will be described in the next chapter.

The interesting thing is another and much more profound development of the main character. While in the first part Catherine only doubts sincerity of her friendship with Isabella, in the end of the second part she understands Isabella’s hypocrisy. Catherine comes to a new realization about the nature of people. She understands that people can be both good and bad, because real life is never as black-and-white as it is in the novels she reads. Catherine’s change is also described in that citation:

“It was not three months ago since, wild with joyful expectation, she had there run backwards and forwards some ten times a-day, with an heart light, gay, and independent; looking forward to pleasures untasted and unalloyed, and free from the apprehension of evil as from the knowledge of it. Three months ago had seen her all this, and now, how altered a being did she return!” (p. 221)
Northanger Abbey exposes the difference between reality and fantasy and questions who can be trusted as a true companion and who might actually be a shallow, false friend. It is considered to be the most light-hearted of Austen novels.” (http://en.wikipedia.org)

2.1 Elements of the gothic novel, their representation and parody in Northanger Abbey

Mikhail Bakhtin defines parody as a “‘stylization,’ that involves the appropriation of the utterances of others for the purposes of inserting a new orientation of meaning alongside the original point(s) of view. . . .The imitator [or the author] usually merges utterances so completely that one ‘voice’ is heard”. (http://cai.ucdavis.edu)


The Northanger Abbey is considered a gothic parody because it satirizes the form and conventions of the Gothic novels that were popular during the time when Jane Austen wrote her novel. Austen targeted Anne Radcliffe’s gothic novel The Mysteries of Udolpho. She directly mocks the genre with her references to Anne Radcliffe’s book. (http://cai.ucdavis.edu)

Catherine, the main character of Northanger Abbey, is a wide-eyed reader of Radcliffe’s books. She reads in Bath. The novel Northanger Abbey recounts her coming to understand, belatedly, the difference between such fiction and the reality of everyday life.

Jane Austen exhibits the contrast between the world as it is and the world as imagined by the romancers whom she wished to ridicule. She expresses it by the contrast between a normal, healthy-natured girl and the romantic heroines of fiction, and by showing the girl slightly affected with romantic notions. (http://www.bartleby.com)

Gothic novels and their conventions occur throughout the novel, especially in its second part. On the way from Bath to Northanger Abbey, the Tilney family seat, Henry tells a humorous hypothetical story about Catherine’s first night in the Abbey, including typical features of gothic novel. He teasingly provides a description that is a composite of details from Radcliffe’s novels.

As the author intended to ridicule the Gothic novel she had to use the features typical for this genre. However, not all of them occur in Northanger Abbey. For example an ancient prophecy, which is usually obscure, partial, or confusing, and connected with the castle or its inhabitants, either former or present; dream vision or portent of coming events; supernatural beings and events, such as ghosts, giants, or inanimate objects coming to life; woman threatened by a powerful, impulsive, or tyrannical man, who demands the female character to do something intolerable, are not demonstrated in the novel. (http://www.virtualsalt.com)

On the other hand other Gothic elements contirbuting to an atmosphere of mystery can be found in the book.



One of the typical features of Gothic novel is its language. It uses the metonymy of gloom and horror. The following metonymies all suggest some element of mystery, danger, or the supernatural:

wind, especially howling

rain, especially blowing

doors grating on rusty hinges

sighs, moans, howls, eerie sounds

footsteps approaching

clanking chains

lights in abandoned rooms

gusts of wind blowing out lights

characters trapped in a room

doors suddenly slamming shut

ruins of buildings

baying of distant dogs (or wolves?)

thunder and lightning

crazed laughter

(http://www.virtualsalt.com)
Here as an example are some of the words (in several categories) that help to create the vocabulary of the novel Northanger Abbey:

  Mystery

secret (spring), wretched (Matilda), strange (events), supernatural (means), fancy, mystery, strangely mysterious, mysterious (apartments)

Fear, Terror, or Sorrow

awful (sensation, memorials), horrors, horrid (suggestion), fraught, frightened, frightful, frightening, fears, fearful (curiosity), torture, alarming (violence), awfulness (of situation), dreadful (storm, situations), dread, dreadfully cruel, horrid (scenes), scare, affrighted, suspensions of agony, (feeling of) terror, terrific, absolute aversion, gloomy (workings), anxiety, anxiousness (of spirit)

Surprise

(in creased) alarm, alarmed, motionless, breathless wonder, gazing, astonishment, astonished (eyes), (blush of) surprise, sensation of awe, (Catherine´s) blood ran cold, shocking (idea), terror upon terror

Haste

hasten, (lamp) suddenly (expires in the socket), sudden (knocking at the door), anxious impatience (of curiosity), hastily (closed it), (jumped) hastily, breathless, hastened (death)

Anger

fury

Largeness

large (cabinet), large high (chest)

Metonymies and vocabulary of the Gothic contribute to an atmosphere of mystery and suspense. Few of them are used in Henry’s story-telling:

After surmounting your unconquerable horror of the bed, you will retire to rest, and get a few hours' unquiet slumber. (p. 143)

Peals of thunder so loud as to seem to shake the edifice to its foundation will roll round the neighbouring mountains -- and during the frightful gusts of wind which accompany it… (p.143)

…lamp suddenly expires in the socket, and leaves you in total darkness.… (p.145)

Many of them appear in describing the first Catherine’s night in the Abbey, when she found the manuscript:

The night was stormy; the wind had been rising at intervals the whole afternoon; and by the time the party broke up, it blew and rained violently.(p. 151)

Catherine, as she crossed the hall, listened to the tempest with sensations of awe; and when she heard it rage round a corner of the ancient building, and close with sudden fury a distant door, felt for the first time that she was really in an Abbey. (p. 151)

She had nothing to dread from midnight assassins or drunken gallants. (p.151)

The window curtains seemed in motion. It could be nothing but the violence of the wind penetrating through the divisions of the shutters;… (p.152)

Darkness impenetrable and immovable filled the room. A violent gust of wind, rising with sudden fury, added fresh horror to the moment. (p. 155)

…a sound like receding footsteps and the closing of a distant door struck on her affrighted ear. (p.155)

The storm too abroad so dreadful! (p. 155)

Metonymies and other typical words and phrases provide frightfulness of the situation. But the danger is not real, it is perceived only by Catherine, who wants the situation to be horrifying.

Here is an example of the Gothic language on the book jacket of the novel. It was published in the United States in 1965 and marketed as a Gothic novel. The evidence of it are the extracts chosen from the twenty-first chapter of the book:


(//www.pemberley.com)

However, it is appropriate to compare the extracts with the real text.

The first passage in the book sounds: “The wind roared down the chimney, the rain beat in torrents against the windows, and everything seemed to speak the awfulness of her situation.” (p. 153) The word ‘everything’ is replaced by ‘every nerve-shattering sounds’ which looks more ghostly.

As for the second passage, the real text in the book is:

The storm still raged, and various were the noises, more terrific even than the wind, which struck at intervals on her startled ear. The very curtains of her bed seemed at one moment in motion, and at another the lock of her door was agitated, as if by the attempt of somebody to enter. Hollow murmurs seemed to creep along the gallery, and more than once her blood was chilled by the sound of distatnt moans. (p. 156)

The attentive reader notices several differences. The beginning of the first sentence is completely different. Part of it is missing in the book, or it is in excess on the book jacket. The word ‘struck’ is substitutes by ‘howled’, the word ‘seemed’ is replaced by ‘were startled’, and instead of ‘distant moans’ there is ‘shrill distant screem’ on the book jacket. All the changes tinge the reading with more terryfying atmosphere.

The intention of these changes is not fully obvious. There can be two possible explanations. One of them is that it was a bussines plan to attract people by creating scaring covering (not only extracts but also picture look fearsomely), and the other is that the book was incorrectly understood and was considered a real Gothic novel.


Another element of Gothic novel is setting in old castle containing secret passages, trap doors, secreet rooms, dark or hidden staircases, or ruined sections. The castle is seemingly abandoned, sometimes occupied. The Northanger Abbey stands in the book for an old castle but only in Catherine’s fantasy. She imagines the Northanger Abbey as an old building full of ancient legends:

Its long, damp passages, its narrow cells and ruined chapel, were to be within her daily reach, and she could not entirely subdue the hope of some traditional legends, some awful memorials of an injured and ill-fated nun. (p. 126)

Her imaginations of the Abbey, however, is more mysterious than the Abbey really is. Her expectations, supported by Henry’s fictional story, clash with what Catherine really sees, which dissapoints her. As she wants to experience something similar as heroines of Gothic novels, the discovery that the Northanger Abbey is not mysterious but common modern building leads to her disappointment. Nothing answers to her fantasy:

The furniture was in all the profusion and elegance of modern taste. The fire-place, where she had expected the ample width and ponderous carving of former times, was contracted to a Rumford, with slabs of plain though handsome marble, and ornaments over it of the prettiest English china. The windows, to which she looked with peculiar dependence, from having heard the General talk of his preserving them in their Gothic form with reverential care, were yet less what her fancy had portrayed. To be sure, the pointed arch was preserved -- the form of them was Gothic -- they might be even casements -- but every pane was so large, so clear, so light! To an imagination which had hoped for the smallest divisions, and the heaviest stone-work, for painted glass, dirt and cobwebs, the difference was very distressing. (p. 146)

Secret rooms, trap doors and hidden staricases are mentioned in Henry’s story. They have some mysterious power in Catherine’s mind but, in fact, rooms, doors and staircases are as ordinary as they could be.

Catherine knows all the people living there, but she is convinced that they are not the only occupants in the Abbey. She suspects General Tilney of hiding his wife, who is considered to be dead, in one of the secret rooms, and visits her after everybody goes to bed. She thinks:

that some very different object must occasion so serious a delay of proper repose. To be kept up for hours, after the family were in bed, by stupid pamphlets, was not very likely. There must be some deeper cause: something was to be done which could be done only when the household slept; and the probability that Mrs. Tilney yet lived, shut up for causes unknown, and receivint from the pitiless hands of her husband a nightly supply of coarse food, was the conclusion which necessarily followed. Shocking as was the idea, it was at least better than a death unfairly hastened, as in the natural course of things she must ere long be released. (pp.172-3)
An atmosphere of mystery and suspense is another feature of Gothic novel. In a typical Gothic novel the plot itself is built around a mystery, such as unknown parentage, a disappearance, or some other inexplicable event. The story is filled with a threatening feeling, a fear enhanced by the unknown. In the novel Northaner Abbey this feature is provoked by Henry’s story, who describes the Northanger Abbey as a place full of horrors. At first Catherine does not believe Tilney’s fantasy, she assumes that there will be a lot of people in the Abbey and that nothing horrible can happen to her. During the first night she changes her mind on the story. She is in a similar situation which Tilney described to her. She recalls Tilney’s story and she feels like a heroine of Gothic novel. She unlocks the mysterious cabinet, expecting it to contain something horrible. Catherine’s feelings are intensified by a storm. Catherine finds a manuscript and in the hope that it contains the secret about ancient occupants of the Abbey and that she will become a heroine of the Gothic novel, she is about to read it. But:

Darkness impenetrable and immoveable filled the room. A violent gust of wind, rising with sudden fury, added fresh horror to the moment. Catherine trembled from head to foot. In the pause which succeeded, a sound like receding footsteps and the closing of a distant door struck on her affrighted ear. (p. 155)

In the morning all her hopes and fear disappear. The manuscript, as well as other mystery things, turn out to be only fiction. What she found last night were just laundry bills.

An atmosphere of mystery and suspense develops when Catherine learns about Mrs. Tilney’s death. “Is she really dead or did she just disappear?” Catherine repeatedly speculates. She suspects General of killing her or locking in one of the secret rooms. It is enhanced by the fact, that Eleanor and perhaps the other children, were not at home when she was dying. The natural death of Mrs. Tilney is not mysterious enough. Catherine knows from the books she read how the funeral proceeds in such a case. “Catherine had read too much not to be perfectly aware of the ease with which a waxen figure might be introduced, and a supposititious funeral carried on.” (p. 175)


Another feature of the Gothic novel appearing in Northanger Abbey is women in distress. The female characters often face events that leave them fainting, terrified, screaming, and sobbing. A lonely, pensive, and oppressed heroine is often the central figure of the novel, so her sufferings are the focus of attention. It is closely connected with another feature of Gothic novel which is high, even overwrought emotion. The narration may be highly sentimental, and the characters are often overcome by anger, sorrow, surprise, and especially, terror. Characters suffer from raw nerves and a feeling of impending doom. Crying and emotional speeches are frequent. Breathlessness and panic are common. (http://www.virtualsalt.com)

Catherine is not an oppressed heroine, but she is terrified by circumstances. For example the storm during the first night she spent in the Abbey, in connection with the mysterious cabinet and found manuscript genuinely frightened her.

Catherine, for a few moments, was motionless with horror. It was done completely; not a remnant of light in the wick could give hope to the rekindling breath. Darkness impenetrable and immoveable filled the room. A violent gust of wind, rising with sudden fury, added fresh horror to the moment. Catherine trembled from head to foot. In the pause which succeeded, a sound like receding footsteps and the closing of a distant door struck on her affrighted ear. Human nature could support no more. A cold sweat stood on her forehead, the manuscript fell from her hand, … (p. 155)

Although Catherine does not want to fall prey to mystery and tries to explain some circumstances to herself on real base, her effort is overcome by her desire to experience something unusual and mysterious. Her mind is too overwhelmed by reading Gothic novels.

Another situation in which Catherine represents woman in distress is when she is looking for Mrs. Tilney´s bedroom. She is terrified and she has difficulty distinguishing fact from fiction:

Catherine found herself alone in the gallery before the clocks had ceased to strike. It was no time for thought: she hurried on, slipped with the least possiblenoise through the folding doors, and without stopping to look or breathe, rushed forward to the one in question. The lock yielded to her hand, and luckily with no sullen sound that could alarm a human being. On tiptoe she entered: the room was before her: but it was some minutes before she could advance another step. She beheld what fixd her to the spot, and agitated every feature. (pp.177-8)

It is just Catherine’s vivid imagination what leads her to conviction that the General murdered his wife. On the way to investigate Mrs. Tilney’s bedroom she is caught and scolded by Henry. He is very surprised by Catherine’s speculations. He explains her the real circumstances of his mother’s illness and death, and the relationship between his parents. He reproaches her for the fictions she believed in. He appeals to her conscience:

Consult your own understanding, your own sense of the probable, your own observation of what is passing around you -- Does our education prepare us for such atrocities? Do our laws connive at them? Could they be perpetrated without being known, in a country like this, where social and literary intercourse is on such a footing; where every man is surrounded by a neighbourhood of voluntary spies, and where roads and newspapers lay every thing open? Dearest Miss Morland, what ideas have you been admitting? (p. 182)

She is feeling very embarrassed. It is this moment that she realizes the senselessness of her fantasizing. Her realization of this and opening eyes is demonstrated in Catherine’s genuine feeling of shame which she experienced in the presence of Henry. She is afraid of his favour he signified several times:

It was not only with herself that she was sunk, but with Henry. Her folly, which now seemed even criminal, was all exposed to him, and he must despise her for ever. The liberty which her imagination had dared to take with the character of his father, could he ever forgive it? The absurdity of her curiosity and her fears, could they ever be forgotten? She hated herself more than she could express. (p. 183)


Catherine realizes that everything was only “self-created delusion” (p. 183) adapted to the situation because she was looking forward to the fear she may meet in the Abbey. She comes to the conclusion that she was influenced by reading novels such as The Mysteries of Udolpho is:

Her mind made up on these several points, and her resolution formed, of always judging and acting in future with the greatest good sense, she had nothing to do but to forgive herself and be happier than ever; and the lenient hand of time did much for her by insensible gradations in the course of another day. (p. 185)


Although the crime turns out to be nonexistent, Austen captures some of the psychological tensions typical of Gothic novels by describing Catherine’s delusions. So of course although she parodies the gothic genre, Austen also makes use of some of its techniques.

Austen decided to show popularity of the Gothic novels in its true colours and reduce young readers’ deliriousness by reading of such literature. She put in contrast a vivid imagination and common reality. Parody is based on Catherine’s comic mistake. She suspects her host of a horrible criminal act, which is create only by her fantasy.

Austen’s satiric intention manifests one of her quality untypical for that period – she was always standing on firm ground by both her feet and was able to look round with a slightly ironic smile. (Austen 2004, p.361)


Conclusion
The aim of the work was to analyse Jane Austen’s novel Northanger Abbey, find the Gothic elements demonstrated there and focus on how they are parodied by the author.

The novel Northanger Abbey although written after prime of the sentimental novel, exploits the genre. It is a parody of the Gothic novel so popular in Austen’s time. Jane Austen tries to ridicule the unreasonable fear, vivid imagination, and shows a rational world with civilised, urbane and reasonable characters.

She uses different devices to evoke an atmosphere of mystery. One of them is the language used in the novel. There are metonymies and other typical words and phrases providing frightfulness of the situation especially within the second part of the book. Setting in the old abbey is also one of Austen devices how to frighten the main protagonist Catherine. But the Abbey is old and mystery only in Catherine’s mind. In reality, it is modern building without secret rooms, trap doors and hidden staircases, which Catherine wishes to find, but they are only fable of Catherine’s imagination. The author, however, does not reveal the reader that rooms, doors and staircases are not secret. She leaves the readers to make their own judgement. The fear which Catherine experiences is nourished not only by reading of Gothic novels but also Henry’s hypothetical story he tells her on the way to the Abbey in order to find out to what extent Catherine is overwhelmed by her reading. Although she tries to convince him about her disbelief in horror he has described her, she wishes, deep inside, to experience something like heroines of the Gothic novels do. The situations in which Catherine finds herself are absolutely common but she wants them to be mysterious and sometimes she is not able to distinguish fiction from real life.

The author describes the development of the main character within the story. While at the beginning she indulges in reading the Gothic novels and wants to experience the very same feelings as their heroines, later she grows out of an influene of the books. The important moment of the novel is Catherine’s awareness of her own naivety. Her desire to become a heroine of the Gothic novel is very strong and she completely fails to realize that the circumstances are not mysterious and horrible as they seems her to be. Henry helps her to awake from her illusion and finally she is able to distinguish the real life from her imagination. Eventually she is ashamed of her speculations and behaviour.

Jane Austen interweaves her novel with the elements of the Gothic novel in order to show how people can succumb to sentiment instead of common sense. Her main weapon to achieve her intention is her sense of irony and wit.

Resumé
Cílem této práce bylo analyzovat román Jane Austenové Northangerské opatství (Northanger Abbey) jakožto parodii gotického románu, který je spolu se sentimentálním románem, jehož rysy jsou v práci taktéž zmíněny, součástí románu anglického. Gotický román byl velmi populární v době, kdy autorka psala výše zmíněné dílo.

Práce je zaměřena na popis charakteristických rysů gotického románu a jejich výskyt v románu Northanger Abbey. Rysy objevující se v knize, jsou autorkou parodovány, neboť hlavní hrdinka Catherine je výrazně ovlivněna četbou tak populárního žánru, jakým gotický román nepochybně byl. Přestože se hrdinka zpočátku brání možnosti být vtažena do nějaké záhadné situace, posléze jí zcela propadá a její bujná fantazie vše ještě umocňuje.

Jane Austenová využívá žánrový jazyk, obsahující celou řadu metonymií, speciálních slov a frází, aby navodila atmosféru hrůzy a strachu, což je nedílnou součástí gotického románu. Rysy gotického románu se objevují až v druhé části knihy, v níž hrdinka na pozvání svých přátel, rodiny Tilneyových, odjíždí na jejich rodinné sídlo, jímž je právě Northangerské opatsví. Ve chvíli příjezdu do opatství se dostaví první Catherinino zklamání. Budova vystavěná v moderním stylu naprosto neodpovídá té staré, tajemstvím opředené budově, kterou si ve své fantazii vysnila. Catherine po vzoru hrdinek gotických románů hledá tajemství i ve zcela banálních věcech, mezi než patří například “záhadný rukopis”. Ten je však záhadný pouze za okolností, které jsou podbarveny kvílící meluzínou, vzdalujícími se kroky a skřípěním dveří. Za normálních okolností se z “rukopisu” stává zcela bezvýznamný a “netajemný” účet za vyprání prádla a ze “záhad” se stávají naprosto běžné jevy lidského života. Ani normální smrt manželky generála Tilneyho není pro hlavní hrdinku dostatečně záhadná. Pod vlivem četby gotického románu je přesvědčena o tom, že paní Tilneyová byla svým manželem zavražděna nebo, v lepším případě, ji generál ukrývá někde v budově opatství a tajně jí tam nosí jídlo. Tato myšlenka evokuje v Catherině touhu prozkoumat budovu a najít důkazy, které ji v tom utvrdí.

Důležitým momentem knihy je hrdinčino “procitnutí”, kdy si uvědomuje svoji naivitu a pociťuje stud zejména ve vztahu k Henrymu, dalšímu z hlavních postav románu. Catherine, tajně milující Henryho, je jím přistižena při průzkumu budovy a musí se přiznat ke svým tajným úvahám o generálu Tilneym a je Henrym pokárána. Přitom to byl právě tento muž, který v hlavní hrdince podnítíl touhu stát se hrdinkou gotického románu, vyprávěním smyšleného, ale hrůzostrašného příběhu cestou do opatství.

Autorka v průběhu svého díla popisuje také proměnu hlavní hrdinky. Z naivní mladé dívky, která nevnímá egoismus, faleš a povrchnost, jež ji obklopují, se v průběhu románu stává rozumně uvažující mladá slečna, která už by se jen stěží nechala ovládnout četbou gotických románů a svou bujnou fantazií.

Jane Austenová využívá rysy gotického románu, evokující tajemnou atmosféru, a zároveň zesměšňuje neopodstatněný strach, bujnou fantazii a částečnou neschopnost rozlišit fantazii od skutečnosti. Henry pomůže Catherine probrat se ze svých iluzí a odlišit reálný život od svého fantazírování, na němž je založena tato parodie. Austenová se svým smyslem pro vtip a ironii poukazuje na to, jak lidé mohou podlehnout výplodům své fantazie pod vlivem četby gotických románů, a dát jim průchod na úkor zdravého rozumu.




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