Thursday, February 5, 2009
Northanger Abbey is Jane Austen's first novel and truth be told it's pretty clear that as time went on and she matured in her writing, so did her characters. The main character in this novel is Catherine. She is a very silly, very young little girl. She reads many novels and because of this she lets her imagination carry her away to her dream land.
Because she is so very young, she is not a very good judge of character, and because she is so naive about things, she misinterprets interactions, situations and people. Whenever there's a question mark about someone, or something she doesn't understand, she leaps to her own conclusions and ends up making some pretty embarrassing if not serious mistakes.
She is not an annoying character, by any means. She's cute and endearing, and because of this we forgive her. Her love interest, Mr. Tilney, is a very lovable character and although he indulges her naivete - he too, finds it endearing - he eventually steps up and puts her in her place. He's a real gentleman and although he doesn't have the strongest character around, he's right for her.
The book is more about Catherine than anything else. There are of course misunderstandings, attachments, betrayals, accusations, friendships and relationships in the novel, but more than anything it's a study of Catherine. Some say it was Austen's attempt at a "Gothic" novel, and I can see how that would be an apt description, although it's probably more accurate to say that Catherine was created to resemble a heroine from a Gothic romance novel.
In all, it's a fun book, with good people, written by a special woman. It's interesting to compare Catherine and Mr. Tilney with her characters later on. You'll see what I mean when you read the book. By the way, if you can stand it, go to Youtube and catch the TV movie. It's pretty accurate and well made.
Here's the trailer. I'm not sure it's the best quality, but it's the best I found.