Gender Roles In Northanger Abbey

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It is hard to imagine a world where women had no power over their own lives, but being powerless was the reality for Jane Austen and her characters Catherine and Eleanor. Northanger Abbey is a novel by Jane Austen, about a young girl named Catherine who longs to be a gothic heroine in the 1700s. Austen has to reinforce gender norms of male dominance and marriage for purely financial stability over her female characters, Catherine, Eleanor, and Isabella because of social norms that caused an inability for females to be heroines. Catherine is unable to overcome the gender norm of male dominance over females in her interaction with John Thorpe. While Catherine is in a carriage with John Thorpe, he judges all the women they see, and Catherine …show more content…
The word “deference” implies giving one respect. Catherine having to respect John reveals how unequal their relationship is, purely because of their gender. Catherine, as a women, must give respect to John, a male, even though she disagrees with him. She is not allowed to voice an opinion different then John’s, because he is a male. Catherine is also “fearful” of her opinion, because John has so much more power than her as a “self-assured man”, revealing his confidence in himself. John’s confidence in himself also makes Catherine “fearful,” because it could get her in a lot of trouble if she disagreed with him if she “haphazard[ed]” him, or made him question his confidence. During the 1700s, males had all the power, and females had little to none. The word “civility” also portrays societal expectations of how females should …show more content…
Eleanor and Catherine gossip about Isabella after Isabella has started flirting with Captain Tilney. “Are they a wealthy family?” “No, not very. I do not believe Isabella has any fortune at all.” (Austen 151) Isabella’s family is not “wealthy” at all. The conclusion that Isabella will be left with nothing if she does not marry can be drawn. Isabella strives for “wealth,” because she has almost nothing at all. Her situation is so dire, she will do whatever it takes to elevate herself above her current financial status. Isabella’s desperation is a representation of female’s struggle in life. Isabella’s manipulations of Catherine can almost be dismissed after her situation is revealed. If Isabella did not use Catherine to meet James, Catherine’s brother, she would have a lot more difficulty finding a fiancé. Without a fiancé with prospects of money, Isabella would be left with nothing, and live in poverty. Isabella is a direct product of societal expectations of

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