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Northanger Abbey

Northanger Abbey


by Jane Austen

Northanger Abbey Questions

Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.

  1. What is the effect of using the Gothic novel as a running theme in Northanger Abbey? In what ways does the Gothic novel help to frame, or set-up, the plot of Northanger Abbey?
  2. Do readers really get a clear picture of Catherine and her inner life from the narrative or not?
  3. Northanger Abbey uses lots of clichés, or over-used plot devices. What is the effect of using all these clichés? Are the clichés funny? (If you want to read more about clichés, check out the "Symbols, Imagery, Allegory" section.)
  4. Northanger Abbey frequently sets up expectations only to disrupt them. What effect does this structure have on the narrative overall and particularly on the style and tone?
  5. How would you adapt Northanger Abbey into a modern day movie or book? In what sort of environment would it be set?
  6. If Northanger Abbey were written today, what type of book or popular genre would it parody?
  7. Catherine is often very focused on the present. She gets over past troubles quickly and she also frequently opts not to worry about future events. Is this a good attitude to have, or does Catherine need to broaden her focus out from the present moment? Are there instances, good or bad, where she does so?
  8. The narrator frequently interrupts here. What is the effect of this technique? Are these narrative interruptions significant in any ways?
  9. Northanger Abbey depicts how hard it can be to get reliable information about people. John's lies/exaggerations to General Tilney about Catherine are a good example of this problem. How does unreliable information impact the overall plot and the individual characters here?
  10. In what ways is Catherine actually a heroine?

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