After reading through Northanger Abby I could not keep my mind off the way that Jane Austen portrays the sexes. The men, specifically John and the General both seem pretty selfish and so consumed in themselves that they rarely acknowledge the feelings of others. As it can pretty much be assumed, money plays a large part in this. I channeled some Sigmund Freud in the later chapters when Catherine travels to the Abby with the Tinslys. Catherine expresses some disappointment that everything had been made modern. I took this as a testament to the General’s obsession with money and wealth. I couldn’t help but laugh when he took so much pleasure in having a bigger parlor than the Allens. Had Henry not been included in this novel, it would not have given a very favorable depiction of men in this time period.
As for the women….I truly wanted to like the characters, however I felt like Austen continued to feed the readers with reasons to dislike them. Isabella is basically portrayed as a fake friend and “gold digger”. I felt so bad for James when she abandoned him for hopes of a more wealthy lifestyle with Frederick. I would also get very frustrated at how often Catherine would scold herself, the worst of all when she blamed her misperceptions on the books that she read. Obviously women were not first in line for good educations in the 18th century, and this passage definitely affirmed this. I paraphrased this section as “This is what happens when women try to read. They get too many silly thoughts in their head and lose sight on reality.”
Having said that, I did enjoy the story. I can definitely see the “heroic” qualities in Catherine that may not be quite as obvious. First of all, she is a hero because she ultimately gets the guy and lives happily ever after. But I admired her ability to stay herself throughout the novel even more. She was always surrounded by people who didn’t always have her best interests in mind, yet she still managed to get what she wanted. She didn’t change for them.