Essay on Northanger Abbey as a Precursor to Pride and Prejudice

1634 Words Jul 13th, 2008 7 Pages
Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey is frequently described as a novel about reading—reading novels and reading people—while Pride and Prejudice is said to be a story about love, about two people overcoming their own pride and prejudices to realize their feelings for each other. If Pride and Prejudice is indeed about how two stubborn youth have misjudged each other, then why is it that this novel is so infrequently viewed to be connected to Austen’s original novel about misjudgment and reading one’s fellows, Northanger Abbey? As one of Austen’s first novels, Northanger Abbey is often viewed as a “prototype” to her later novels, but it is most often compared to Persuasion (Brown 50). However, if read discerningly, one can see in Pride and …show more content…
... Henry at a distance—not even able to bid him farewell. Every hope, every expectation from him suspended, at least, and who could say how long?—Who could say when they might meet again?” (Northanger 155) Catherine feels that she is losing Henry’s favor due to the seemingly unfounded anger of his father. The situation in Elizabeth’s case is a bit different, as her sister Lydia runs off with the wicked Wickham (notice the insinuation of wickedness in his name), and the sheer embarrassment of this keeps Elizabeth from Mr. Darcy, who she fears will no longer stand her company, which echoes Catherine’s fear of losing Henry. In fact, this perception of her loss of Darcy’s favor brings Elizabeth to truly realize her feelings for him for the first time—“Elizabeth soon observed…her power was sinking; every thing must sink under such a proof of family weakness. It was… exactly calculated to make her understand her own wishes; and never has she so honestly felt that she could have loved him, as now, when all love must be in vain” (Pride 206). The reader can undoubtedly feel the similarity that Austen created in the emotions of the two heroines. Soon, however, each heroine is let out of the dark about the circumstances surrounding her supposed fallout with the hero. Catherine discovers that her ejection from Northanger Abbey was due to the misinformation of General Tilney about her wealth by John

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