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Themes

Making friends and trying to figure out true friends from false ones is a major part of Northanger Abbey's overall plot, as well as Catherine's personal journey and development. Friendships in this book are subject to the narrative trajectory of growing up and maturing. Catherine has to trade in her whirlwind, fun, and ultimately shallow friendship with Isabella for a more mature and rewarding, friendship with Eleanor. Northanger Abbey makes observations, both comical and serious, on friendships. The book also questions what makes a good, or even a real, friendship.

Questions About Friendship

  1. Were Catherine and Isabella genuinely friends or not?
  2. The time it takes to form relationships with people is an issue in the text How is the time it takes to get to know someone used to distinguish the type of relationship Catherine has with Isabella from the type of relationship she has with Eleanor?
  3. Catherine has to put up with a lot of peer pressure attempts from the Thorpes and her brother James. How are Catherine's efforts to stand up to her friends significant to her character development?
  4. We don't see a lot of interaction between James and John in the book. What sort of friendship do you think they had? What can you infer from the text about their relationship?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Catherine has to learn how to be a good friend over the course of the novel.

When she is questioning Eleanor about Mrs. Tilney's death, Catherine behaves in a self-centered manner similar to Isabella, and disregards Eleanor's feelings.

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