I have a love/hate relationship with Jane Austen.
In the past, when I’ve read other works by Austen, I was frustrated to the point of almost vowing to never read her novels again. Why?
Because the women in her stories tend to be complete wimps. Constantly swooning and flushing red and trembling with fear over the most minor and insignificant tribulations. I know that this is done in a satirical way, poking fun at the ridiculous conceptions of women at the time but still, it has always frustrated me to no end. However, in Northanger Abbey, it seems that her subtly mockery is angled elsewhere (thank God).
Austen satirizes the popular themes and motifs used by the Gothic Novel, extremely popular at the time. In fact, when Catherine is at Bath, she even reads Udolpho, which was an extremely popular and laughably overdone Gothic novel in the 1800s. Austen overdoes the sense of dread and suspense leading up to certain events. Catherine’s reading habits have served to make her act overly suspicious at some points, like when she happens upon a locked cabinate and suspects to find something dreadful, and only discovered laundry bills. Her paranoid assumptions eventually cause her to make a fool of herself in front of Henry.