Alright, we've come to the end of another Austen in August read-along! This makes me very frowny-faced, especially because Northanger Abbey holds such a special place in my heart, but I do love discussing it with you (even when I disagree).
I'll be sharing my answers to all these many, many questions in an upcoming vlog, but for now, here are the discussion prompts for Volume Two. Feel free to use them to start your own reaction posts to Northanger, or discuss in the comments, but remember, these are just prompts — you're welcome and encouraged to discuss any aspects that fascinate you, and not just the ones I've picked. =)
These discussion questions concern the second half of Northanger Abbey, comprising all of Volume Two (chapters 16 through the end).
- Discuss Catherine's rather dramatic visit to the Tilney home. Consider all angles: can you put yourself in Catherine's place, considering General Tilney's behavior? Are you surprised that "the incident" didn't end all communications between Catherine and the Tilneys?
- Consider Austen's tone in Northanger Abbey as regards gothic novels and the satirization of cliches and melodramatics. Do you find the style heavy-handed? Do you think Austen was doing any moralizing through Catherine and her over-the-top exploits? What do you make of the tone and presentation in general?
- The beginning of the novel is basically a list of all of the ways Catherine's not a real novel heroine, and Austen continually sets up and then subverts "novel reader expectations" throughout the book; where do you think Catherine stands on the ''heroine" front by the end of the novel? Compared to other novels of the time, or your understanding of them and what Austen says they contain? Compared to Austen's own standards?
- Share your thoughts on Catherine's friendship with Isabella and how it evolves over the course of the novel. Do you think Isabella was just using Catherine as a means to an end?
- Discuss the interactions between Henry and Catherine. We've discussed this dynamic in a few conversation posts through the years, with some people thinking they're perfectly suited, and some thinking that Henry is condescending and rude, and that Catherine will be unhappy. Where do you fall on this? What do you make of Henry and his treatment of others?
- What were your overall impressions of the book? Favorite and least favorite moments? Favorite and least favorite characters?
- If this is not your first time reading it, have your opinions of the story changed with this reread / as you got older? If this is your first time reading it, is it something you think you will reread?
- Northanger Abbey is sort of treated like the bastard child of Austen — lesser-than. If you've read other Austen books, do you find this to be accurate? Do you think it's deserving of this treatment?
- Lastly, play Kiss Marry Kill: Choose 3 characters at random from the novel, and then tell us who you'd kiss, who you'd marry, and who you'd kill (in grand Gothic fashion, no doubt... )
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