Inside Northanger Abbey.

“Woman is fine for her own satisfaction alone. No man will admire her the more, no woman will like her the better for it. Neatness and fashion are enough for the former, and a something of shabbiness or impropriety will be most endearing to the latter.”

                                                                – Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey.

Nothanger Abbey published in 1817 with Mansfield Park in a four volume pack is the first novel Jane Austen completed which she started when she was 15. A classic piece of juvenile writing, this novel is the story of Catherine Morland, a naive young woman who leaves her sheltered country life and travels to Bath, a busy hub of fashion, activity and high society for seeking adventures. 

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Northanger Abbey

I must confess, the first time i heard about Northanger Abbey,I wasn’t quite impressed. Catherine struck me as a very odd name for a Jane Austen heroine, but my aim to read all of Austen’s novels lead me on to prevent one of the biggest mistakes i could have made! Catherine is not your typical heroine, infact even Austen insists on her being unlike any heroine you have ever read about. Catherine, a tomboy at the age of 10 loves playing boy’s games, rolling down grassy slopes at the back of her house, does not mind being dirty and muddy and hates reading anything connected with studies. However at the age of 15, she grows pretty, develops an affinity for neatness and grows refined. At the age of 18, a fortunate incident leads her to Bath where the novel proceeds. There she meets intelligent, witty and amusing Henry Tilney, a clergyman whose ancestral house is Northanger Abbey (which is the location for the second part of the novel). She also forms an acquaintance with the high spirit, cunning gold digger Isabella Thorpe who influences her to read horror novels, particularly Ann Radcliffe’s Mysteries of Udolpho. Isabella’s brother and Catherine’s brothers’s friend John Thorpe flirts with Catherine who does not understand his intentions. (clever Catherine! :P). Fortune’s favourite child Catherine soon bags an opportunity  to visit Northanger Abbey where the rest of the novel continues. 

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Catherine Morland

 

Because of The novel’s unique plot line, un heroine like heroine, a witty hero and some hilarious characters, the novel ranks second on my Favourite Jane Austen books list. Catherine’s naivety and Tilney’s worldly wisdom makes a complete match although One wishes to see more of Henry during the novel. Some say that Catherine’s character is based on Jane Austen. Brought up in a household of boys in a parsonage, Jane was a complete tomboy who improved in manners as she grew up. She too loved rolling down the slopes at the back of her parsonage. Her parents too were simple and naive like the Morlands. One of her earliest pieces of writing, N.A. helps in detailing Austen’s childhood. 

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The 2007 tele series

I saw the 2007 tele series and it was awesome! There are of course a movie version too which i hav not seen but the 2007 one is better , so i have heard. The series just had a few changes with Cathy (she has a big name, my fingers are almost paining!), being more cleverer than in the novel, Tilney as usual, amusing and funny, Thorpe…irritating, Isabella cunning, Mrs’ Allen hilarious and James morland….dumb! I would totally recommend you watching this one even if you have not read the book.

Coming up- Persuasion! 🙂

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Touring Mansfield Park….

“Selfishness must always be forgiven you know, because there is no hope of a cure.”
― Jane Austen, Mansfield Park.

The day before yesterday, I made a bet with my elder sister. The bet was I have to complete all the six novels of J.A. in 4 weeks, watch their movies, take the quizzes and well prove myself as a true Janeite!

I started with my least favourite Austen book, Mansfield Park ….yeah the one with the over righteous heroine, the preachy guy who is supposed to be the hero and two a Mansfield Park was published posthumously in a four volume book with Northanger Abbey in 1818. Jane wrote it in the last years of her life before dying in 1817.

While reading the book, I found a lot of similarities between the heroine Fanny’s life and Jane’s life, although their personalities were completely different. Several incidents in Jane’s life including the adoption of her brother Edmund by the Knights, a rich childless couple who had taken to her quiet brother on one of their visits, the controversies involving the extravagant  Prince of Wales and his society compelled Jane to take up her pen and convey her ideas about the surrounding affairs through her novel.

Mansfield Park is different from the rest of Jane’s novels because of its high moral taste and the strength of the principles taught to us during childhood. I must confess, i do not like Fanny Price as a heroine nor does Edmund Bertram feature anywhere on my favourite heroes list. Yes, we must be moral, do the right thing and believe in our principles but being a prig is not always the right thing to do. Its not like i hate Fanny Price..its just that she is well, a prig. In the beginning of the book I felt appropriately sorry for her but as she grows up, she develops weirdly priggish tendencies and is always  big on all her rocket high moral standards which is definitely unfair for the people who live with her and would love some fun and games. Throughout the book, she is shown to be a morose and quiet doormat who is regularly in conflicts with her conscience. From the beginning, her cousins have been showing her either ill treatment or no treatment at all, infact they have not being associating with her at all as she herself has not being encouraging them. Understood, that she is shy and of a silent nature but hey!  you do have a supportive cousin too who does encourage you to talk and correspond with people right?

Promotional photo of Billie Piper, Joseph Beattie, Blake Ritson from "The Complete Jane Austen: Mansfield Park."

Fanny Price and Edmund Bertram in the 2007 tele series

Aware of the fact that Ms Price is definitely not going to appeal to her audience, Austen cleverly manges to gain our sympathy at the end of the book for Fanny. At one point of the book, i was surprised to find myself shouting “Go Fanny go!” and i really do not exactly change my opinions about someone so easily!

The novels follows Fanny’s life as she is adopted by her rich uncle and has to leave her poor family. Bossed around by her dominating Aunt Norris (who is an annoyingly hilarious presence throughout the book ) and intimidated by her strict uncle, who also has moral standards but is no match for his niece’s standards. Poor Fanny, ignored by all her female cousins who find her ignorant and indifferent finds a true friend in her second cousin Edmund whom she grows to love romantically. The story moves forward with Sir Bertram going abroad and the Crawfords entering Mansfield park and charming their way into everyone’s hearts leaving Fanny to deal with her insecurity and jealousy. The Crawfords entry into society change and alter everyone’s lives at Mansfield as they battle their own decisions and the consequences of faulty actions.

What makes Mansfield Park worth reading is the message conveyed by Austen to its   readers. All the characters so beautifully and realistically potrayed as to leave the readers no doubt of the reasons behind some of their actions. Right from Aunt Norris’s

The 1999 movie version of the novel

irritating behaviour to Mary Crawford’s gold digging one, the characters keep you hooked on to the story.

The crawfords in the 1999 movie version

I watched the 1999 version of Mansfield park  yesterday. Fanny Price’s character was altered from a timid doormat into a sharp tongued, outspoken lady, the villains were made more villainous, Sir Bertram’s character made pervy and despotic and Lady Bertram into a junkie….yeah..hell of a movie! but it was actually fun and i enjoyed it although purists may not agree with me.

Well, then another J.A. book next week! Most probably Northanger Abbey…will post soon! 😀

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Jane Austen and me…

“Indulge your imagination in every possible flight.”
-Jane Austen.

I was 13 when i first started reading Jane Austen. Like all other wannabe cool teenagers, i had kept on ignoring her books till boredom compelled me to pick up the first (and only) book lying in front of me, it was Pride and Prejudice—–… Unfortunately the book cupboard was locked, thanks to my mom and the only book related to any form of fantasy and stories and no way related

Imageto studies was P and P, this time thanks to my sister. She just could not be bothered reading any other story except the one which was now being turned and checked by myself for any form of interesting stuff because i was totally convinced that this was boring, without even reading it, Yeah, i thought i was psychic, it’s perfectly obvious right now that i ain’t!

Pride and Prejudice follows the lives of the Bennet household in 19th century England as they brave their ways through the most difficult part of their lives, yeah…finding husbands! Definitely not my personal views, that’s Mrs Bennet for you!  Anyways, the characters are hilarious and are so realistically drawn from real lives that at times you will actually find yourselves exclaiming, “hey that’s me!” or calling Mr Collins, the hilariously annoying persistent suitor as freakishly similar to some random stalker who is infatuated with you…!

The powerful narrative tones with all the right mixtures of sarcasm, wit, graveness and pure fun of this book is worth reading and you should have read this book at least twice or multiple times during your lifetime as well as Austen’s other 5 books namely Emma, Sense and Sensibility, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion and Mansfield Park. These six books, now holding a very special place both in my cupboard (finally it opened!) and my heart, taught me a lot about life and all those who live it. J.A.’s books do not always have the same concept about marriage and love, yes, it does have its happy endings but the content right in the heart of the book has its own individuality like the six heroines have their own special aura.

Just recently i read Clare Tomalin’s Jane Austen which detailed on every part of the famous author’s life right from her childhood to her death and all those people who were a part of her short journey, As a second daughter  myself, i could actually relate to her. It is said that Lizzy Bennet’s character is inspired from Jane herself and Darcy from Tom Lefroy who was her first and perhaps her last love. J.A. was a very defensive person, her real feelings were protected by a strong cover she had made around herself. The gateway pass was given to very few including her brother, Henry and sister, Cassandra. Her dry wit and sarcasm hid her true feelings and sometimes conveyed them.

Jane’s legacy still continues after nearly 2 centuries and perhaps will continue forever (most probably till this december!) . I would definitely recommend every teenager to start reading J.A.’s book because who knows maybe it will sort all your teen problems as it did for me!

P.S. – I am rereading all her books and will update about them soon! 🙂

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April 30, 2012 · 8:19 am

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