1. Robert Kilely, in his Introduction, says that although
Northanger Abbey satirizes gothic novels, what?s more
significant about it is the manner in which Jane Austen bases her
narrative on conversation. How is conversation used in the novel as
a narrative device? How does conversation both aid and hinder the
2. Jane Austen deftly shifts voices so as to allow us to see the
world through Catherine?s eyes and her own eyes (often through
Henry Tilney). What effects does this have on the reader?
3. What gothic elements are incorporated into the novel? What
are the anti-gothic elements and figures of the novel? How does
Austen juxtapose Bath and the Abbey?
4. It can be argued that Henry Tilney is a foil to John Thorpe.
What other characters serve as foils to each other? Does Catherine
have a foil?
5. Consider the use of sarcasm in the novel. How does Henry
Tilney?s sarcasm force Catherine to think things through more
thoroughly and expand her values and notions?
6. The novel depicts a disparity of class and wealth, most
notably between the Thorpes and the Tilneys. What importance does
social convention hold? Is there a certain relevance between class
and behavior appertaining to the Thorpes and Tilneys? Is it ever
justifiable to break with social convention and propriety?
7. One of the major elements in Northanger Abbey is reading,
particularly reading novels. What are some of the differences
between novels and reality that Austen is discerning? Is she
convinced that novels are worthless? What is surprising about the
way novels were perceived in the early nineteenth century?
8. ?No one who had ever seen Catherine Morland in her infancy,
would have supposed her to be a heroine,? Jane Austen writes in her
opening paragraph. Do you agree that Catherine is a heroine? How
does she develop through the novel and what does she learn about
her self and the world around her?