Naiveté and Curiosity can both be bliss. Though at times, being naïve is associated with being ignorant, didn’t someone say that ignorance is bliss? And though curiosity killed the cat, didn’t satisfaction bring it back. Thus, independently, both Naiveté and Curiosity can be bliss. But, what happens when these two completely opposite qualities get together? Got any idea? Well, if you have read Northanger Abbey, then you must know the answer; Naiveté plus Curiosity will give you Catherine Morland.
Title: Northanger Abbey
Author: Jane Austen
Publisher: Barnes & Nobles Classics
Genres: Classic Literature, Romance Novel, Gothic Fiction
From Goodreads: Northanger Abbey is often referred to as Jane Austen’s Gothic parody. Decrepit castles, locked rooms, mysterious chests, cryptic notes, and tyrannical fathers give the story an uncanny air, but one with a decidedly satirical twist.
The story’s heroine is Catherine Morland, an innocent seventeen-year-old woman from a country parsonage. While spending a few weeks in Bath with a family friend, Catherine meets and falls in love with Henry Tilney, who invites her to visit his family estate, Northanger Abbey. Once there, Catherine, a great reader of Gothic thrillers, lets the shadowy atmosphere of the old mansion fill her mind with terrible suspicions. What is the mystery surrounding the death of Henry’s mother? Is the family concealing a terrible secret within the elegant rooms of the Abbey? Can she trust Henry, or is he part of an evil conspiracy? Catherine finds dreadful portents in the most prosaic events, until Henry persuades her to see the peril in confusing life with art.
Northanger Abbey, the first novel written by Jane Austen, but, the last to be published takes us on a trip of love, romance, friendship, infidelity, wealth, and Gothic literature with our naive but curious heroine Catherine Morland. To add to the drama of the novel is Catherine’s age- seventeen, a budding age, an age when naiveté succumbs to the charms of curiosity and steps into the big wide world to experience life. Being a huge fan of Jane Austen and in love with everything from the Regency period, the simple to read, yet, complex plot in Northanger Abbey provided me with the right amount of entertainment and kept my interest till the very last page of the novel.
My favorite character of the novel is our main protagonist- Catherine Morland. I felt that, even in modern times, several seventeen years old girls can relate to her character. Even today, isn’t seventeen the age when anything you like or admire can very quickly turn into an obsession? For example, if you like the One Direction, your ‘like’ can very quickly turn into an obsession with you filling your room with One Direction posters on every wall. Isn’t seventeen the age when every obsession mingled with curiosity can have far reaching consequences? For example, fans stalking their celeb heroes/heroines, wanting to marry them etc. Similarly, Catherine’s excessive fondness for Gothic novels, made her so obsessed with Gothic Literature that she could see, hear, and feel GOTHIC everywhere which lead to ridiculous and amusing consequences.
Among other characters, Jane Austen has masterfully written the Thorpes, who form an important part of some major plot twists in the story. I especially disliked Isabella Thorpe, who radiated trouble right from the time she entered the story. On a funny note, while reading the novel I had no idea that Mrs. Radcliffe was actually a great author of Gothic novels in the 18th century and her work The Mysteries of Udolpho was one of her best works.
Northanger Abbey is not without flaws. Firstly, although, Northanger Abbey is the main location where Catherine’s Gothic Fantasies are ignited and she transforms into a wiser/better person, Jane Austen takes Catherine to Northanger Abbey much later in the book. I would have liked the story better, if Catherine had started her trip to Northanger Abbey sooner. Secondly, I was hoping to see more of the lovely romance between Catherine and Henry Tilney, but, unlike Jane Austen’s other novels; Catherine and Henry’s romance doesn’t occupy much space in the book.
The story of Northanger Abbey is sprinkled with amusing incidents, solemn twists, and vivid descriptions, all of which let us witness the amazing transformation of Catherine Morland from a naïve and curious teenager to a wise and mature adult. Just like every other Jane Austen novel, my most favorite bit of this novel is the part when Henry professes his love for Catherine. In conclusion, Northanger Abbey is a wonderful coming-of- age story, which every fan of classic literature must read.
♥♥♥♥— Rating: 4/5