Catherine Morland

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Catherine Morland
Jane Austen character
FamilyRichard Morland
Mrs Morland
RelativesJames Morland
Sarah "Sally" Morland
2 elder brothers
5 younger siblings including youngest George aged 6 and Harriet aged 4
HomeNorthanger Abbey/Woodston Parsonage

Catherine Morland is the heroine of Jane Austen's early novel Northanger Abbey. A modest, kind-hearted ingénue, she is led by her reading of Gothic literature to misinterpret much of the social world she encounters.


Catherine is barely out of the schoolroom when she enters the social whirl of Bath society, and the novel centres around her attempts, often laughable, to learn about life and social realities.[1] Many of her problems stem from her excessive tendency to take people at their own evaluations;[2] However, while socially naive, Catherine also has an underlying sense of reality to support her;[3] and her honesty and strength eventually see her successfully through her troubles.[4]

Her confrontation at the Abbey itself with the novel's main father figure, General Tilney, brings matters to a head. Unable to see through his manipulations over her postulated inheritance,[5] or to recognise him beneath his fine words as a domestic tyrant,[6] Catherine turns to Gothic fantasy to explain her sense of unease, only to be embarrassed and humiliated when her imaginings of a gruesome murder are laid bare.[7] Arguably, however, she has been both wrong and right in her preconscious judgement of the General,[8] using her Gothic imaginings to articulate the gap between her experience of the General and his social facade.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sheila Kaye-Smith, Talking of Jane Austen (London 1946) p. 218-9
  2. ^ J. Nardin, Those Elegant Decorums (1973) p. 65
  3. ^ R. Liddell, The Novels of Jane Austen (London 1963) p. 9
  4. ^ Sheila Kaye-Smith, Talking of Jane Austen (London 1946) p. 228-9
  5. ^ E. J Sabiston, Private Sphere to Public Stage (2008) p. 18
  6. ^ M. Waldron, Jane Austen and the Fiction of her Time (Cambridge 1999) p. 31
  7. ^ Sheila Kaye-Smith, Talking of Jane Austen (London 1946) p. 18
  8. ^ Tony Tanner, Jane Austen (2007) p. 45
  9. ^ J. Nardin, Those Elegant Decorums (1973) p. 75=7

External links[edit]