Female Characters in Northanger Abbey

In Northanger Abby by Jane Austen, she provides different types of female characters in her novel. Many times authors in the 1800s just offered two types; the maternal figure and the gossiping socialite. Very few portrayed a female character as the heroine. While Austen includes the maternal and gossiping socialite characters, she makes the main character and the hero of the novel a woman. The main character, Catherine, is described as “noisy and wild, hated confinement and cleanliness, and loved nothing so more in the world as rolling down the green slope at the back of the house” when she is young. Catherine is outdoorsy and would rather actively and physically play outside opposed to staying inside and be quiet and feminine. Not many female characters are shown in this active, boyish role. By portraying Catherine in this boyish light Austen is helping to develop another role for woman in literature. Catherine acted this way until 15 and by the time she was 17, she did become interested in her looks and attention from men. An example of her more stereotypical feminine behavior is when she goes to Bath for the first time and she waits around hoping someone will ask her to dance. When no one does she is disappointed, but she quickly becomes happy again when she over hears two men say she is pretty. This illustrates another side to Catherine and adds depth while also demonstrating woman characters can be both vain and tomboyish. Another character that is different than her typical role is Catherine’s mother. Mrs. Morland, her mother, is a maternal figure who must be protective and care about her child. But it is implied that Mrs. Morland does not mind that Catherine is leaving for Bath through the tone of the narrator. This causes her to break away from the traditional maternal character. This does not mean that Catherine’s mother cares about her less, but maybe that she trusts her daughter and the Allen’s to take care of her daughter more than most mothers.

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