Satire + Critic in Northanger Abbey

“But, my dearest Catherine, what have you been doing with yourself all this morning? Have you gone on with Udolpho?”

“Yes, I have been reading it ever since I woke; and I am got to the black veil.”

“Are you, indeed? How delightful! Oh! I would not tell you what is behind the black veil for the world! Are not you wild to know?”

“Oh! Yes, quite; what can it be? But do not tell me—I would not be told upon any account. I know it must be a skeleton, I am sure it is Laurentina’s skeleton. Oh! I am delighted with the book! I should like to spend my whole life in reading it. I assure you, if it had not been to meet you, I would not have come away from it for all the world.”

“Dear creature! How much I am obliged to you; and when you have finished Udolpho, we will read the Italian together; and I have made out a list of ten or twelve more of the same kind for you.”

“Have you, indeed! How glad I am! What are they all?”

“I will read you their names directly; here they are, in my pocketbook. Castle of Wolfenbach, Clermont, Mysterious Warnings, Necromancer of the Black Forest, Midnight Bell, Orphan of the Rhine, and Horrid Mysteries. Those will last us some time.”

“Yes, pretty well; but are they all horrid, are you sure they are all horrid?”

“Yes, quite sure; for a particular friend of mine, a Miss Andrews, a sweet girl, one of the sweetest creatures in the world, has read every one of them.”

Chapter 6, p. 39, Penguin Edition

The gothic novels of the time of the Regency era are discussed here, in particular Ann Radcliffe’s infamously popular The Mysteries of Udolpho. Despite being a gothic genre, the characters and narrator discuss the text in a more sentimental and earnest manner that is meant to be parodic. The gothic genre is traditionally meant to express horror vs terror, yet these examples are all defined as horror. Ann Radcliffe defines the works mentioned as terror, so it is interesting that it is pointed out that Catherine is misunderstanding these works. The humorous tone implies the satire in which Austen indulges, especially through contrastive language/images (“Dear creature” and “Skeleton”). The scene generally serves to establish depth in the friendship as opposed to the relationship of Mrs. Thorpe and Mrs. Allen. And yet, it seems like Austen is making a point of clearly showing the inaccuracy of the conversation and how these girls are misunderstanding the works intended effects. This conversation on the darker genre juxtaposes the lighter romanticized aspects of visiting Bath and meeting the men and looking at hats and dresses, and serves to highlight the darker themes that surface later in the novel.

Jane Austen, Juvenilia and Northanger Abbey

First, my apologies. I thought I’d already posted this. We’ll discuss the Juvenilia and other writings together, along with a few key pages of Northanger Abbey. We’ll read whatever we need to discuss on the spot, since I messed up the reading assignment.

https://jasna.org/austen/works/

https://jasna.org/austen/works/northanger-abbey/

Plan of a Novel:

(Q: 5 mins): Satire and Criticism? Use a passage from this “plan” to discuss JA not just as a novelist, or a parodist, but a critic of the 18th century novel and its conventions.

Parody=criticism of novel and conventions?  Interpretive exaggeration?  Capture of essential features of satiric object?

  1. Keywords: Vanity, wit, pride, duty, passion, duty, propriety, artless, genius, ?
  2. genre and sub-genre: Amatory fiction; sentimental fiction; satiric fiction; gothic fiction; radical fiction, ?
  3. Major themes:
  • Prescribed gender roles for both men and women, in courtship, marriage, and family-relations?
  • The relation between marriage, family, and property?
  • Religion and morality from the perspective of the (male or female) individual, or from that of the family and/or social order?
  • Theatricality, deception, disguise, or masquerade as a metaphor for social interactions and society at large?
  • Gendered sensibility and its accommodation within a (violent or antagonistic) social order?
  • Gendered taste and its accommodation within an (antagonistic) social order?

4. Some Early Parallels from Austen’s Juvenilia:

“Henry and Eliza” 

https://pemberley.com/janeinfo/henreliz.html

“Frederic and Elfrida”

https://pemberley.com/janeinfo/fredelfr.html

“The Beautifull Cassandra” and “A Letter from a Young Lady”

https://pemberley.com/janeinfo/juviscrp.html#lylwfbtsfhjlet

“Letter 5th of Love and Freindship”

https://pemberley.com/janeinfo/lovfrnd1.html#letter5

“Jack and Alice”

https://pemberley.com/janeinfo/jackalic.html

5. Northanger Abbey:

  • A. Free indirect Discourse: J Thorpe’s rudeness to sisters & C’s anger;
  • B. Books and Taste: ch. 6, reactions of Miss Andrews, Isabella, and J Thorpe to Udolpho; criticizing Udolpho but being a gothic novel too; 
  • C: Learning: Thorpe and balls; C’s realization of I’s cruelty and blaming of Tilney; boy craziness of I; J Thorpe’s echoing of Gen. Tilney; Henry scolds C for suspecting Gen.; Danielle, good nature or cowardice?

135-8: misunderstanding of riots in London:

From art to ruin to politics to silence:

“Something very shocking to come out in London”

“You speak with astonishing composure”

“The ladies stared” 

“The riot is only in your brain’ 

“A mob of three thousand men”

Real vs imagined monsters?

Feminine fears? Gender roles?

 

Q: Go to last 100 pp or so (chs. XX-XXXII) and identify a moment where Catherine, Henry, Eleanor, Gen. Tilney, Isabella or John Thorpe learn or provide a piece of information that advances the plot, clears up a mystery, or teaches Catherine something.