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Quiz about Northanger Abbey
Quiz about Northanger Abbey

Austen, Jane Quiz: Northanger Abbey | 10 Questions


"The person, be it gentleman or lady who has not pleasure in a good novel must be intolerably stupid," declares the sensible Henry Tilney during the course of Jane Austen's undeniably good novel "Northanger Abbey".

A multiple-choice quiz by londoneye98. Estimated time: 5 mins.
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Author
londoneye98
Time
5 mins
Type
Multiple Choice
Quiz #
342,212
Updated
Dec 03 21
# Qns
10
Difficulty
Average
Avg Score
7 / 10
Plays
248
Awards
Top 20% Quiz
Last 3 plays: Guest 71 (8/10), Mazee1 (8/10), Guest 76 (10/10).
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Question 1 of 10
1. "Northanger Abbey" is usually interpreted as casting a satirical light upon what specific literary genre, extremely popular in Jane Austen's youth? Hint


Question 2 of 10
2. What is the name of the heroine - or some would say the anti-heroine - of "Northanger Abbey"? Hint


Question 3 of 10
3. Family friends of the heroine's family, Mr and Mrs Allen, take the seventeen-year-old girl with them on a protracted health trip to the fashionable spa town of Bath. Which one of these aspects of life in Bath does Jane Austen memorably describe in "Northanger Abbey"? Hint


Question 4 of 10
4. Who is Isabella Thorpe? Hint


Question 5 of 10
5. Which minor character is described in the following terms? "She was one of that numerous class of females, whose society can raise no other emotion than surprise at there being any men in the world who could like them well enough to marry them." Hint


Question 6 of 10
6. Which male character in "Northanger Abbey" is described by Jane Austen as a "rattle"? Hint


Question 7 of 10
7. What is the physical appearance of the young Henry Tilney, to whom our young heroine, after being introduced to him, at once feels attracted? Hint


Question 8 of 10
8. Which one of these statements is *not* true of our heroine's stay at the eponymous Northanger Abbey? Hint


Question 9 of 10
9. Our young heroine's four-week stay at Northanger Abbey is suddenly terminated by what shocking event? Hint


Question 10 of 10
10. What aspect of "Northanger Abbey" does Jane Austen herself satirise, apparently feeling some impatience and dissatisfaction with it, in the final pages of her novel? Hint





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quiz
Quiz Answer Key and Fun Facts
1. "Northanger Abbey" is usually interpreted as casting a satirical light upon what specific literary genre, extremely popular in Jane Austen's youth?

Answer: the Gothic novel

In seeking to define Gothic novels one cannot do better than defer to Sir Paul Harvey's magisterial "Oxford Companion to English Literature", which calls them "tales of the macabre, fantastic and supernatural, usually set amid haunted castles, graveyards, ruins, and wild picturesque landscapes." They reached the height of their popularity during the years that Jane Austen grew to womanhood, and in characteristically playing - in "Northanger Abbey" - a wickedly ironic light on human foibles and excesses, she evinces an evident desire to hold the fashionable "Gothic" romances up to ridicule. In fact, this seems to have provided the initial spur to the writing of her book.

More specifically, perhaps the most obvious purpose of "Northanger Abbey" is to poke wicked fun at Mrs Radcliffe's notoriously popular Gothic extravaganza "The Mysteries of Udolpho", a lurid piece of extended fantasy which first saw the light of day in 1794 - although recent research has also discovered close thematic connections between Jane Austen's book and "The Italian", a later work of fiction by the same Mrs Radcliffe. Jane evidently intends to point the contrast between the over-heated unreality of such literary productions and the down-to-earth realities of actual day-to-day living in society. She comments acidly in "Northanger Abbey" that "charming as were all Mrs Radcliffe's works, it was not in them perhaps that human nature, at least in the midland counties of England, is to be looked for."

Jane Austen disapproves of melodramatic gestures as a substitute for fidelity to one's true feelings, and she usually dispenses too with the need for Romantic landscapes as a backdrop to her human drama. In the words of Olivia Manning, the admirable editor of my Pan Classics edition of the novel, Jane "never describes scenery and sets her characters...in drawing rooms and social gatherings...her tone is the opposite of what we call 'theatrical'." Her characteristic tone is one of irony and deflating of false sentiment. "Northanger Abbey", in fact, has been described by some as a "burlesque", or a "squib". But although it evidently started as a parody of Gothic romance, it developed in subsequent revisions its own dynamic of characterisation and moral dilemmas. "The intended parody," in Olivia Manning's view, "has become lost in reality."
2. What is the name of the heroine - or some would say the anti-heroine - of "Northanger Abbey"?

Answer: Catherine Morland

"No one," the novel begins, "who had ever seen Catherine Morland in her infancy, would ever have supposed her born to be a heroine." Catherine grows up with her own awkward, slightly gawky, charm, amusingly at odds with the appeal of a conventional literary heroine. A country vicar's daughter, one of ten children, Catherine develops during her teenage years an exaggerated taste for the fashionable Gothic romances that the circulating libraries were bursting with. "From fifteen to seventeen," we read, "she was in training for a heroine; she read all such works as heroines must read." She embodies, however, as the story develops, her author's concern to point up, for all of us, what might be called the supremacy of "life" over "literature" in our daily affairs: as Dr Norman Sherry, in his excellent little book on the Austen novels, insists, "the novel moves from...concern with literature to a concern with life...Catherine has first to learn to distinguish literature from life, and then how to learn the difficulties of ordinary life."

Miss Morland is generally believed - owing to a lot of inaccurate gossip when she goes to stay in Bath - to be an heiress, and she struggles half-comprehendingly with new social experiences and new moral dilemmas. "We see a child," writes Olivia Manning, "develop into a woman," as Catherine - not without great mental suffering - shakes off the false Romanticism which she had previously lapped up from her plethora of sensational reading. Jane Austen's own favourite novelist, the redoubtable Fanny Burney, seems to have shown her the way in many respects: of Burney, the "Oxford Companion" informs us that "her three major novels take as their theme the entry into the world of a young girl of beauty and understanding but no experience, and expose her to circumstances and events that develop her character; they display, with a satirical eye and a sharp ear for dialogue, the various social levels and the varied company in which she finds herself." This seems to be where "Northanger Abbey" - probably the first full-length novel that Jane attempted - takes its cue from.
3. Family friends of the heroine's family, Mr and Mrs Allen, take the seventeen-year-old girl with them on a protracted health trip to the fashionable spa town of Bath. Which one of these aspects of life in Bath does Jane Austen memorably describe in "Northanger Abbey"?

Answer: the crowds packed chaotically into the Assembly Rooms

"The season was full," we read, "the room crowded, and the two ladies squeezed in as well as they could...they saw nothing of the dancers but the high feathers of the ladies." The comically uncomfortable crush in the Upper Assembly Rooms - is this all there is to high society, we are invited to ask - gives Jane Austen wonderful scope to satirise the foibles of fashionable Regency entertainment, but always with an implicit nod to the lasting value of other kinds of human behaviour. Jane's preoccupation with her characters, their idiosyncrasies and their inter-relationships, precludes her from dwelling for very long on background features like architecture or landscape, and this neglect of extraneous detail gives a rare snappiness, a delicious concision, to her writing.
4. Who is Isabella Thorpe?

Answer: a vain young woman with two younger sisters

Our heroine is introduced to Isabella, her doting mother and her two younger sisters in the Assembly Rooms at Bath. (She discovers later that, in one of those not-so-unusual coincidences in life which Jane manages so adroitly to help along the plots of her novels, Isabella has formed an attachment while visiting her brother at Cambridge to none other than Catherine's own brother James.) Catherine is, on the face of it, completely taken in by her new friend's glitter, personal dynamism and apparent worldliness. I have found an excellent comment on Google, on a website called "schmoop flashcards", to the effect that "Isabella's artifice highlights Catherine's artlessness." Isabella is unenviably knowledgeable about the fashionable literature of the day, and happily recommends a whole list of "horrid" Gothic novels for Catherine to read, including Mrs Radcliffe's "Italian".

Isabella is presented to the reader by Jane Austen as selfish, false-hearted and manipulative, but for a long time Catherine does not see this. When her blinkers are finally taken away Catherine is, understandably, unforgiving. Yet there is in the end, a sadness about Isabella. After all, it is she - and not the artless Catherine - who is taken in and betrayed (and her reputation ruined) by a false suitor. Admittedly she was in the wrong to encourage a man when betrothed to someone else, but we can be sure that she suffers (off-stage) for her folly. There is no place for her in the happy ending to the story.
5. Which minor character is described in the following terms? "She was one of that numerous class of females, whose society can raise no other emotion than surprise at there being any men in the world who could like them well enough to marry them."

Answer: Mrs Allen

"The minor characters in "Northanger Abbey," remarks Norman Sherry, "portray all the customary targets of Jane's irony - stupidity and indolence, deceit, vulgarity, shrewdness, vanity and mercenariness." In Mrs Allen's case, it is a complacent indolent stupidity which excites her creator's scornful wit. The "schmoop flashcards" website acutely remarks that "she helps the plot along by doing nothing at all." She is supposed to be Catherine's chaperone in Bath, but in practice simply leaves Catherine to sink or swim for herself: Norman Sherry delightfully calls her an "anti-chaperone," just as he calls Isabella an "anti-confidante." She is preoccupied with fashionable clothes, to the extent that not much else can penetrate the mists surrounding her brain. Her fatuous contributions to would-be intelligent conversations are often quite hilarious as Jane reports them, and the dialogues in which she takes part - I am certainly not the first to notice this - are endowed with an absurdist and positively Pinteresque flavour by her participation in them:

"'Oh dear, I do believe it will be wet,' broke from Catherine in a most desponding tone.
'I thought how it would be,' said Mrs Allen.
'No walk for me today,' sighed Catherine; - but perhaps it may come to nothing, or it may hold up before twelve.'
'Perhaps it may, but then, my dear, it will be so dirty.'
'Oh! that will not signify; I never mind dirt.'
'No,' replied her friend very placidly, 'I know you never mind dirt.'
After a short pause, 'It comes on faster and faster!' said Catherine, as she stood watching at a window.
'So it does indeed. If it keeps raining, the streets will be very wet.'
'There are four umbrellas up already. How I hate the sight of an umbrella!'
'They are disagreeable things to carry. I would much rather take a chair at any time.'"

Perhaps, after all, it would be fairer to call Harold Pinter's dramatic dialogues "Austenesque".
6. Which male character in "Northanger Abbey" is described by Jane Austen as a "rattle"?

Answer: John Thorpe

The phrasal verb "to rattle on," in its modern sense, was in common use in Regency England - witness Byron in "Don Juan": "I rattle on exactly as I'd talk/ To anybody in a ride or walk." The use of "rattle" as a noun to describe a garrulous and inconsequential person has died out since Jane's day, but John Thorpe, Isabella's brother, is a marvellously unpleasant and buffoonish example of the type. (Let no one say that Jane's male characters are always less convincing than her women!) At one point he even proposes to Catherine, in his clumsy way, and because her immediate rejection of him is couched in polite, ladylike terms he allows himself to believe that she has encouraged him to keep on hoping.

Thorpe, who is a friend and fellow-student of Catherine's brother James at Oxford, is an unedifying, unappealing person - "an insecure, low-prestige male aspiring to alpha status and badly imitating superficial alpha behaviour," Peter W. Graham has called him, deploring his "self-contradictory bluster on the subject of his horse, his gig, drinking habits at Bath, or almost anything" - but he is portrayed with such wicked relish and imaginative truth by Jane Austen that we all feel we know him, just as we feel we know Chaucer's more unsavoury pilgrims as they leap out at us from the pages of "The Canterbury Tales". In fact Thorpe's unrelenting attempts to get his own way in everything, which verge on the pathological, are ultimately self-defeating, as when his jabbering gossip to General Tilney about Catherine's supposed future inheritance merely results in her being whisked off to Northanger and therefore out of Thorpe's reach. Thorpe's ignorant, loutish behaviour on the dance floor, his virtual kidnapping of Catherine when he refuses to stop his carriage at her behest as she sees her friends in the street, his compulsive lying in order to gain a point, even his crass and incompetent driving, all combine to deprive him of even a scintilla of the reader's sympathy, and he later disappears from the story as a thing of no importance, even though almost to the end he continues to exert a malign influence on the plot.
7. What is the physical appearance of the young Henry Tilney, to whom our young heroine, after being introduced to him, at once feels attracted?

Answer: quite tall, with a pleasant, intelligent face

Jane Austen's male lovers, like every one of her characters, are all "one-offs", whether we are thinking of appearance or character: there is rather more than a world of difference, for example, between the diffident and teasing young rector Henry Tilney and the magnificently brooding lover Mr D'Arcy in "Pride and Prejudice" (not to mention the caddish Willoughby in "Sense and Sensibility"). Some might criticise the author for a certain insufficiency in the filling out of Henry's character, but after all we see him almost entirely through Catherine's eyes - which may account for the slightly insubstantial effect he leaves on us. We are largely left to puzzle out Henry's true self and values for ourselves. Jane lets us into a secret towards the end of the novel, however, when she reveals that his affection for Catherine "originated in nothing better than gratitude, or, in other words, that a persuasion of her partiality for him had been the only cause of giving her a serious thought," before commenting that "it is a new circumstance in romance, I acknowledge, and dreadfully derogatory of a heroine's dignity, but if it be new in life, the credit of a wild imagination will at least be all my own."

Following in the footsteps of Fanny Burney's Evelina, Catherine is a young ingénue who must be introduced to society, and the well-read Tilney, who can be assumed to know Burney's writings, "constantly makes fun," as Norman Sherry observes, "of the conventions of the popular novel to her, and of the correct behaviour for a heroine." On the carriage journey to the abbey, Henry teases Catherine about her Gothic fantasies, joking about "Dorothy the ancient housekeeper", and about "gloomy passages", "ponderous chests", secret subterranean passageways", "large, old-fashioned cabinets of ebony and gold", "old manuscript memoirs," and other essential features of romance that Catherine may be assumed to be looking forward to with relish. In spite of all the teasing, however, our giddy young heroine thinks being driven by him, "next to dancing with him...certainly the greatest happiness in the world."

In an essay published online for the Jane Austen Society of North America, Peter W. Graham likens Tilney to another literary Henry, Shaw's Professor Higgins, in that Tilney seems rather to regard Catherine, eight years his junior, as something like raw material to be tended and shaped to his liking - "Pygmalionesque polishing of his Regency Galatea," suggests Graham, rather portentously and sinisterly perhaps. But Tilney has, it seems, more pure gold in his heart than the frivolous Higgins: when he (in Graham's words) "invokes self-conscious hyperbole that in other men would be mere conventional flattery, as he describes Catherine's good nature as superior 'to all the rest of the world'," he really means it - as the context (I think) makes clear. Later at Northanger Abbey, he drops humour completely and takes Catherine to task in all earnestness for a shocking example of her fantasy-driven folly, and then when he needs to - shortly before the end of the novel - he stands up to and breaks with his martinet of a father for the sake of the young woman he has come to love: "bound as much in honour as in affection to Miss Morland... no unworthy retraction of a tacit consent...could shake his fidelity, or influence the resolutions it prompted."
8. Which one of these statements is *not* true of our heroine's stay at the eponymous Northanger Abbey?

Answer: she is thrilled by the way the abbey functions with only two servants

Upon first being invited to stay at Northanger, the home of Henry's father, Catherine cannot suppress her Gothic fantasies: "Northanger turned up an abbey, and she was to be its inhabitant. Its long, damp passages, its narrow cells and ruined chapel, were to be within her daily reach, and she could not entirely subdue the hope of some traditional legends, some awful memories of an injured and ill-fated nun."

As they approached the abbey in General Tilney's carriage, "every bend in the road was expected with solemn awe to afford a glimpse of its massy walls of grey stone, rising amidst a grove of ancient oaks, with the last beams of the sun playing in beautiful splendour on its high Gothic windows." But although Northanger is a genuinely medieval foundation, much of it has been effectively modernised and much of the "Gothic" atmosphere has to be created by our heroine's fevered imagination, since it is not spectacularly evident otherwise. Although there is a fine Romantic storm on her first night there which, combined with her over-heated state of mind, causes her to lose several hours' sleep, many of her other "Gothic" discoveries turn out to be illusory. She is astonished by the apparently vast number of servants that this modernised abbey employs in its day-to-day operations. And even she cannot pretend that the furniture and the "Rumford" fireplace in the drawing room are anything but functionally modern.

The most violent of Catherine's fevered imaginings, however, lead her to fantasise that the General, Henry's father, must some years ago have done away with his wife, Henry's mother, and then covered up the crime. "When she saw him in the evening...slowly pacing the drawing-room for an hour together in silent thoughtfulness, with downcast eyes and contracted brow, she felt secure from all possibility of wronging him. It was the air and attitude of a Montoni!" (Montoni being the name of a villainous character in Mrs Radcliffe's "Mysteries of Udolpho".) Henry, quick on the uptake as always, soon penetrates the nature of Catherine's fantasies. "Remember," he tells her with sudden earnestness, "the country and the age in which we live. Remember that we are English, that we are Christians. Consult your own understanding, your own sense of the probable."

Catherine is suitably shamed and mortified by Henry's words. Yet "amusing as it is," comments Peter W. Graham, "to laugh at Catherine's commonsensical recognition of her romance-fuelled folly, the ultimate irony of this passage becomes evident only at the novel's conclusion." Terrible things really can happen in England too, after all.
9. Our young heroine's four-week stay at Northanger Abbey is suddenly terminated by what shocking event?

Answer: she is suddenly turned out of the house at a few hours' notice

Coming after news of the break-up of her brother James's engagement to Isabella Thorpe due to Isabella's cynical flirtation with Captain Frederick Tilney, this new bombshell of Catherine's sudden expulsion from Northanger signals the arrival with a vengeance of real drama into her life. The extraordinarily unpleasant General Tilney - even if he is not, as it turns out, a murderer - makes a major impact on the story as it draws towards its close, although some readers have objected that - like his eldest son, Frederick, and his daughter Eleanor, Catherine's great friend - his characterisation is not fully rounded out ("we never really 'see' him," complains Olivia Manning). If Jane had lived to make yet another revision of the novel (she had made two full revisions at the time of her death), such perceived imperfections as these might well have disappeared. The general, a stickler for domestic punctuality whose overbearing military manner makes Catherine, and evidently his own children too, feel very nervous, has encouraged Catherine in his younger son's affections because he had been told by John Thorpe that she was a rich heiress. Having met the embittered Thorpe again in London and learned from him that our heroine is, on the contrary, apparently destitute and penniless, he returns to Northanger Abbey in a towering rage and orders her out of the house at a few hours' notice. He is, then, as he is presented, both a tyrannical bully and a gullible fool who will believe anything that another fool tells him.

Catherine, in her sudden plight, has to return home in several stages unchaperoned, having been forced to borrow money from Eleanor for her fare. There is a "double irony", characteristic of Jane Austen, at work here, which was once very neatly expressed by Professor Lionel Trilling: "We are quick, too quick," he says, to understand that 'Northanger Abbey'...invites us into a snug conspiracy to disabuse the little heroine of the errors of her corrupted fancy...having become addicted to novels of terror...she believes that life is violent and unpredictable. And that is exactly what life is shown to be by the events of the story: it is we who must be disabused of our belief that life is sane and orderly." Trilling's fellow-American critic, Peter W. Graham, eloquently takes the argument a stage further in claiming that "Catherine's banishment from Northanger comes closer to Gothic melodrama than Henry's moderation could imagine possible, and Austen's readers, like the lovers, must recognise that the sins of General Tilney are different in degree rather than in kind from the Mediterranean transgressions reported in Mrs Radcliffe's pages." Jane, in other words, has the last laugh over her readers - as usual.
10. What aspect of "Northanger Abbey" does Jane Austen herself satirise, apparently feeling some impatience and dissatisfaction with it, in the final pages of her novel?

Answer: the conventional requirement to give her novel a happy ending

The account of Henry Tilney's visit to Catherine's home village of Fullerton on the day after her dramatic banishment from Northanger, in order to propose to her, is very moving and shows Jane Austen at her very best. Had she lived to revise the novel once again, on the other hand, Jane might have amplified her rather perfunctory and satirical gathering together of the main threads of her plot in the final chapter - but failing a general change in readers' tastes she could not have done anything about the obligatory "happy-ever-after" conclusion. "Anxiety for Henry and Catherine," she writes with just two pages of the novel to go, "can hardly extend, I fear, to the bosom of my readers, who will see in the tell-tale compression of the pages before them, that we are all hastening together to perfect felicity." As Norman Sherry remarks, Jane "could not throw off entirely the conventions of romance.

Hero and heroine must come together in happiness, and while she adapted the framework to her own ends, her impatience with it does at times show through."
Source: Author londoneye98

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