Thursday, March 31, 2016
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen Read-Along: Conclusion
Hop on over to our host Amber's blog to read her final thoughts on Northanger Abbey and to get all of the details of the watch-along happening tonight! In the meantime here are my thoughts on this last section and answers to the questions that Amber posed over on her blog.
1. How would you respond to General Tilney's rudeness if you were: Catherine? Eleanor? Catherine's parents?
Oh wowsie! I'd be ticked off! I'd want to know what the reason was for his sudden change of heart if I were Catherine. He definitely caused her some confusion and hurt. As his daughter Eleanor I think I would have demanded the reason and then explained to him the error of his ways(probably very loudly!). As Catherine's parents...I have to say here I was a bit disappointed in them. I thought they would be less air-headed than the rest of the characters in this story, but I found some of the things her mother said as much without substance as say the Allen's or even the Thorpes. As her parent I would have been incensed with her treatment of her being sent home without a chaperon or anyone else accompanying her and I would have been even more ticked off of her being turned out of the house without any explanation and chance to defend herself. I'm definitely not a General Tilney fan. He should have been more aware of how the Thorpes operated and not relied on rumor to base his judgment of Catherine. Yeah, disappointment in all that participated in this circumstance!
2. How do you feel about Henry Tilney by the end of the story? What do you think of his home in Woodston, his response to his father's actions toward Catherine, and his initial reasons for pursuing her?
Well hmmmm, I liked his home in Woodston. It seemed much more cozy than the Abbey for sure. Less pretentious and more homey. As far as his response to his father's actions and initial reasons for pursuing her...I'm happy he at least went after her. I thought he was a bit impetuous when he told his father that he was going to offer his hand to Catherine. It reminded me of a child that was pitching a bit of a fit and threatening the worst he could think of like, "I'm going to run away" ha! But yeah I was happy that Henry went after her and that he was ticked at his father and stood up to him even though he and Eleanor were used to allowing the General to get his way and bully them around.I loved that he kept to his goal even though the General was furious.
3. The final line of the book states, "I leave it to be settled by whomsoever it may concern, whether the tendency of this work be altogether to recommend parental tyranny, or reward filial disobedience." What is your verdict? Do you believe the story recommends parental tyranny or a child's disobedience? What do you believe is the book's real message?
Again, like trying to put a character with an actors face on said character I just don't do well with that, the same with trying to determine a "real message" in a book. I think sometimes a message is very clear and sometimes it is just a story to be a story. I did mark that quote because I found it apropos to the situation. I do not recommend parental tyranny. If we raise our children right we are raising them to make responsible adult decisions when they become adults. The characters of Catherine, Henry and Eleanor were all considered adult even though Catherine is a bit young. I think that Henry was a bit old to be bullied around by his father, and likewise I think Eleanor was too, but being a young woman in the times I'm sure she had no other choice. Anyway, if as a parent you set yourself up to be the ruler, the dictator, the boss and then proceed to rule with an iron fist or a flight of whimsy then you set yourself up to be disappointed and angered by your children. As for filial disobedience, I don't agree with that either. ha! I think there are times when we need to submit to our parent even when we are adults. In this case though, I would have backed Henry and Catherine! But I thought it was wise of Catherine's parents to demand the General's approval before allowing a marriage to take place and a good thing that Catherine and Henry abided that request. It gave Catherine another year of maturing and the General time to cool his heals and soften his heart. So is parental tyranny recommended or rewarding filial disobedience...yes and no ;)
"To begin perfect happiness at the respective ages of twenty-six and eighteen is to do pretty well; and professing myself, moreover, convinced that the General's unjust interference, so far from being really injurious to their felicity, was perhaps rather conducive to it, by improving their knowledge of each other, and adding strength to their attachment, I leave it to be settled by whomsoever it may concern, whether the tendency of this work be altogether to recommend parental tyranny or reward filial disobedience."
This was the perfect ending to the story and one that reminded me so much of my own courtship with my husband. I was just 18 when we met and he was a seasoned 25 year old! We only knew each other a few short months before we knew we wanted to marry. My parents asked us to wait 1 year. It did give us a chance to get to know each other more, gave me a chance to mature a bit more and it was a way of honoring my parents request. Thankfully they weren't against the marriage, they were just wise enough to ask for a little growth time. If the General had come about his objections a bit like that then the outcome would have been a bit different. No tyranny and no disobedience needed :)
"Catherine would make a sad, heedless young housekeeper, to be sure, was her mother's foreboding remark; but quick was the consolation of there being nothing like practice."
A bit of an example of one of the reasons Catherine's parents disappointed me. It seemed momma was full of these little pithy exclamations and proclamations. I hope she spent the year training Catherine in how to become a better housekeeper!
"His departure gave Catherine the first experimental conviction that a loss may be sometimes a gain."
Again with Jane Austen's wit and insight. Loved this!
I was happy to see that Catherine finally saw the true colors of the Thorpes, and found it rather interesting that the Tilney's saw it right away(at least Henry and Eleanor did, not the General). Mrs. Allen and Catherine's mother seemed suited to each other. Mrs. Allen only interested in what she was wearing or what someone else was wearing(maybe) and Mrs. Morland seemed just as flighty. She did see more of the character of someone, but still she seemed too shallow. Maybe it had to do with the period, but the women in this book seemed very unintelligent and in need of some other distraction besides fashion and novels. ha! Maybe that is the point of the story? I just started reading one of the "horrid" books mentioned in Northanger Abbey. It does prove some of the tongue-in-cheek attempt of Jane Austen's characters in Northanger Abbey.
All-in-all I enjoyed this read-along. I thought I had read Northanger Abbey before, but apparently if I did nothing "stuck" with me so I will consider this my first time through. It was fun discussing each week what we had read and I definitely look forward to our next read-along.
Tonight is the watch-along. Go to Amber's blog for all of the details to join us. I may be a bit late, but I will definitely watch and then post comments and such as I go.