“She was heartily ashamed of her ignorance - a misplaced shame. Where people wish to attach, they should always be ignorant. To come with a well−informed mind is to come with an inability of administering to the vanity of others, which a sensible person would always wish to avoid. A woman especially, if she has the misfortune of knowing anything, should conceal it as well as she can.”
I have read Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion a good ten times each. I have cried at both the beginning and the end of Sense and Sensibility and I’ve gotten angry at Emma’s privilege. I always liked Austen’s love stories because the couples are amazingly understanding of each other (in the end) and seem perfectly paired. Her endings used to leave me satisfied. Until I read Northanger Abbey.
I’m not going to lie. I wasn’t particularly rooting for Catherine Morland to begin with. Submissive and bland, I got the feeling she would enjoy the prose of Fifty Shades of Grey un-ironically, had she lived in the 21st century. However, I immediately fell in love with the wit of Henry Tilney. To my dismay, I followed their story, but it did not feel the same as when reading the rest of Jane Austen’s love intrigues. Catherine’s character had the wit and personality of a Bolivian salt flat.
I was expecting her to overcome her own foolishness and to turn into something resembling the revered heroine Elizabeth Bennett. But she only got worse as the novel went on. The eventual revelation that the only reason Henry marries her is because he is flattered by her attentions doesn’t come as a surprise, but an unfortunate betrayal. To make him fall with Catherine was an insult to his character. Bad job, Jane. Bad job.
Words: Clare Toureille