Northanger Abbey is a two-volum novel written by Jane Austen from 1798-9 and published posthumously in 1817. In this novel, the author depicts the adventures of three young ladies, Catherine Morland, Isabelle Thorpe and Eleanor Tilney in their journey at Northanger Abbey. With this pattern, Jane Austen draws on the tradition of gothic novel but not to reproduce them. On the contrary, she parodiesthis genre. Here her «heroines» are fond of gothic stories and imagine live the same ones in the Abbey. Besides, the confrontation between their dreams and their experiences compares Northern Abbey to a conduct novel. In this excerpt, Catherine experiences a frightening adventure in one of the abbey’s room. This moment encapsulates one of the most important characteristic of the novel : theparody of gothic novel. To study this fact, we will analyse this passage as a text representative of gothic litterature, then we will see how the author inserts irony in the text making it a parody of gothic text .
In this passage, many elements conjure up a gothic novel.
First, the setting is typically representative of gothic atmosphere. The scene takes place in an abbey, so in a darkand huge place. At line 2, the author evokes «the door», at line 6 «the cavity» and at line 24 «a darkness impenetrable and immovable» of the abbey.
The characters also refers as gothic novels’ characters. Here, we’re reading the adventures of a young lady, Catherine who is an emblem of innocent and naive character. Indeed, throughout the passage, she is alone and powerless in view of thissituation. From line 24 to 40, when the light of the candle goes out, she does nothing , «groping her way to the bed» and jumps «hastily in». Besides, the narator insists on this impotence linked to the character’s fear. We notice the lexical field of the fear, for instance at lines 8 and 9 the narrator explains that «her heart fluttered, her knees trembled and her cheeks grew pale», then at 22 thenarrator tells that she «was motionless with horror» or at line 27 «Catherine trembled from head to foot». In parallel with the description of the innocent girl, we notice the one of a dark villain : a ghost. Even if its description is unclear, we can imagine its presence. Thus, the narrator describes at line 26 a wind «rising with sudden fury» and at lines 28-29 «a sound like receding footstepsand the closing of a distant door».
Besides the characters who are typically representative of gothic litterature, objects evince also the gothic novel. At line 15, the narrator evokes the «candle» and to refer to the book discovered by Catherine, the narrator uses the expression of «manuscript» (lines 31, 40).
As we have seen, the text abounds in images of fear and horror. Besides thesemiotic field of fear, we notice several processes which enlarges on a horrific atmosphere. Indeed, the narrator uses accumulation to describe Catherine’s arrival in the room. We can identify a triple rythm at lines 7-9 «Her heart fluttered, her knees trembles and her cheeks grew pale», an effect of accumulation in the description of Catherine’s arrival in the room from line 24 to 44 with theconjunction «and» , for instance we can quote at lines 28-29 «a sound like footsteps and the closing of a distant door», at line 31 «the manuscript fell from her hand, and groping her way to the bed, shue jumped hastily in, and sought some suspension of agnoy...». Moreover in this same passage, we notice process of parataxis where sentences are linked by juxtaposition. All these processes cause a chainand an acceleration in the description of the actions. Thus, the narrator prolongs the suspens and this is typically characteristic in gothic litterature.
Nevertheless, we have analysed that this excerpt is about a young lady who finds her way alone around in the abbey and who is terrified by this situation (the sensations like sounds, darkness etc). As a result, it doesn’t deal with a true...
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