Northanger Abbey Literary Analysis

Darian Campbell Mrs. Anderson AP Language and Composition Block 3 October 6, 2012 Literary Analysis of Northanger Abbey Jane Austen’s novel, Northanger Abbey, uses vivid diction and a distinct tone to portray each character in the novel. Austen begins the novel with a nonchalant tone and ends it with a more serious tone. She uses these tones of the novel, along with descriptive word choices to develop mental images of each character in the mind of her audience.

In the opening paragraph of Northanger Abbey, Austen’s colorful diction is presented when Catherine’s physical appearance is illustrated as “a thin awkward figure, a sallow skin without color, dark lank hair, and strong features” (1). Austen also uses diction to portray Catherine’s growth into a young woman. She states that the new, more mature Catherine’s “manners just removed from the awkwardness and shyness of a girl; her person pleasing, and, when in good looks, pretty—and her mind about as ignorant and uninformed as the female mind at seventeen usually is” (5).

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This shows the reader that although Catherine looks older and acts older in some aspects, she is still young and naive. Another character that Austen uses strong diction to depict their personality as well as physical appearance is Henry Tilney. Henry Tilney is the first person that Catherine meets while in Bath. “The master of the ceremonies” introduces Catherine and Henry to be partners in dancing.

In the opening paragraphs of Chapter Two, Henry is described as a man who was “had a pleasing countenance, a very intelligent and lively eye, and, if not quite handsome, was very near it” (11). This shows the audience Catherine’s first thoughts of Henry Tilney. Besides Henry, Catherine meets another person, Isabella, who quickly becomes one of her best friends. Isabella is beautiful, well educated, a guy-magnet, and is everything that Catherine ever wanted to be.

The very first time Catherine and Isabella meet, they become best friends and remain friends throughout most of the novel. Catherine’s fondness of Isabella is revealed when Catherine “ran directly upstairs, and watched [Isabella’s] progress down the street from the drawing-room window; admired the graceful spirit of her walk [and] the fashionable air of her figure and dress” (19). Throughout the novel, Catherine’s attachment to Isabella grows weaker because she begins to see Isabella’s true personality.

Jane Austen’s novel, Northanger Abbey, is filled with vivid diction and multiple tones which are all used to display the physical and mental growth of the main characters. From Catherine to Isabella and Henry as well as other characters in the novel, Austen exhibits every aspect of each of their physical characteristics and personality traits using powerful diction in every description. Works Cited Austen, Jane. Northanger Abbey. New York: Bantam Books, 1999. Print.

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