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The Path To Maturity

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There are many different types of relationships throughout Jane Austen's novel Northanger Abbey. These relationships were all tested in many different ways. The tests that these relationships faced point out many reasons why problems came to exist in the relationships of the novel. If you look closely into the causes of all the relationship issues you will see that the same things occur in present day relationships.

In the beginning of the novel, 17 year-old Catherine has never had a love interest. The narrator described Catherine's character as, "her heart was affectionate; her disposition cheerful and open, without conceit or affectation of any kind - her manners just removed from awkwardness and shyness of a girl; her person pleasing, and, when in looks, pretty - and her mind about as ignorant and uninformed as the female mind at seventeen usually is." By setting up her personality this way it also will help explain why her relationships turn out the way they do by the end of the novel. Catherine became friends with Isabella Thorpe and through this friendship, another relationship came to exist, sort of. Isabella's brother, John Thorpe becomes attracted to Catherine apparently because of her assumed riches. He is in constant pursuit of Catherine and goes to many extremes to get her in his company.

Catherine goes to a gathering place for socialites where the master of ceremonies introduces her to Henry Tilney. With Henry there is an instant mutual attraction. But, Austen kind of falsely foreshadows the path of Henry and Catherine's relationship by saying, "it must be very improper that a young lady should dream of a gentleman before the gentleman is first known to have dreamt of her." As a reader, after this section I was thinking that this relationship would fail due to Catherine assuming feelings and rushing into them.



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