Category Archives: Jane’s Characters

Catherine Morland, The Horror Addict

Hi! It’s Emmy and I am here to talk about the heroine of Northanger Abbey, Catherine Morland.

You see, being a Gemini, I have a romance side and a horror side (I host the podcast horroraddicts.net under the name Emerian Rich) which makes me the perfect person to talk to you about Northanger Abbey and its horror-loving heroine, Catherine Morland.

I’ve been told people don’t like Catherine because she’s just a silly, naive girl that lives a large part of her life in her head. I’ve also been told that she’s un-relatable because she likes Gothic novels and horror. Well, I’m here to explain her fascination in a way I hope will be more relatable.

I will attempt to prove that Catherine Morland was not simply some ignorant young miss wiling away her hours in a fantasy world, but she was a horror fan misunderstood by her peers but with a healthy imagination.

To understand Catherine as a horror fan, you have to break down the attributes of a horror fan.

First:

We are people who like to be scared in a removed way through movies, books, and music. Inspecting a horrid situation from a distance not only allows us to experience danger without any real harm to ourselves but also prepare ourselves for the true horrors of life that may come like—the zombie apocalypse. Horror Addicts are just like any other fan. Fans of Jane Austen might read Jane Austen all weekend, or attend a Northanger Abbey ball. Horror Addicts might read Stephen King all weekend or go to a horror film festival. As a rule, we aren’t axe murders, we don’t glorify serial killers, and we definitely don’t want to die at the hand of a chainsaw-wielding maniac. We do, however, like spooky things like ghosts, vampires, and like Catherine Morland, spooky old Abbeys that may contain such creatures.

Second:

We have active imaginations. This may be said about any reader. How many times have you watched a movie based on a book and been dissatisfied? The movies are never better than books, right? Those of you who agree with that statement have vibrant imaginations. The reason they can’t make the movie to please us is because our imaginations have weaved such an awesome image of what we’ve read, that no movie could possibly match. Just like Catherine conjuring up this gothic idea of Mrs. Tilney’s room… and then being disappointed at it looking just like any old bedroom.

Third:

The third aspect of Horror Addicts is, we like to geek out with other Horror Addicts. One reason Catherine likes Henry so much is that he gets her. He is at least in part an addict himself. He is able to make jokes about the novel she’s read, and by teasing her, show he likes her passion and accepts that part of her. And who doesn’t want to be accepted by someone who understands you?

Fourth:

Which brings me to attribute number four. Horror fans often like to find the humor in things. We don’t take ourselves too seriously and often accompany our love of horror with comedy. Either in an attempt to lighten the mood of such serious scary stuff or just because we are generally jovial people. Another reason Catherine likes Henry is because he has a good sense of humor and makes her laugh. For someone who likes humor, Jane painted the winner pretty clear. Grumpy old General Tilney, pompous Frederick, and ridiculously boastful Thorpe have no chance. Henry is clearly the best choice.

So given these attributes of a horror fan,

I think we can all agree that Catherine Morland is one and although she has some growing up to do, just because she learned something about the difference between fantasy and reality does not mean she ceased being a horror addict. I like to think that she went on to read more Gothic novels and perhaps even wrote some herself, but learned to not take them so literally.

Contrary to popular belief,

Horror Addicts don’t tend to grow out of our fascination with the macabre. I hate it when I read reviews that say Catherine grew out of her innocence and realized horror was just for kids. I don’t think that’s what Jane was saying at all. I think she captured perfectly the vision of a young Miss who didn’t know how to enjoy her passion without letting it bleed into reality and by experiencing more and falling in love, she could experience her passion in a somewhat removed way that didn’t get her in trouble.

Now, one of my favorite passages (abridged) of Northanger Abbey and shows her Horror Addict tastes.

Again she passed through the folding doors, again her hand was upon the important lock, and Catherine, hardly able to breathe, was turning to close the former with fearful caution, when the figure, the dreaded figure of the general himself at the further end of the gallery, stood before her! The name of “Eleanor” at the same moment, in his loudest tone, resounded through the building, giving to his daughter the first intimation of his presence, and to Catherine terror upon terror. An attempt at concealment had been her first instinctive movement on perceiving him, yet she could scarcely hope to have escaped his eye; and when her friend, who with an apologizing look darted hastily by her, had joined and disappeared with him, she ran for safety to her own room, and, locking herself in, believed that she should never have courage to go down again.

When I read that, I imagined how I might feel, being watched by a tyrant, but also still wanting to solve the mystery… WHAT IS BEHIND THAT DOOR??

Catherine found herself alone in the gallery before the clocks had ceased to strike. It was no time for thought; she hurried on, slipped with the least possible noise through the folding doors, and without stopping to look or breathe, rushed forward to the one in question. The lock yielded to her hand, and, luckily, with no sullen sound that could alarm a human being. On tiptoe she entered; the room was before her; but it was some minutes before she could advance another step. She beheld what fixed her to the spot and agitated every feature. She saw a large, well-proportioned apartment, a handsome dimity bed, arranged as unoccupied with a housemaid’s care, a bright Bath stove, mahogany wardrobes, and neatly painted chairs, on which the warm beams of a western sun gaily poured through two sash windows!

Catherine had expected to have her feelings worked, and worked they were. Astonishment and doubt first seized them; and a shortly succeeding ray of common sense added some bitter emotions of shame. She could not be mistaken as to the room; but how grossly mistaken in everything else!–in Miss Tilney’s meaning, in her own calculation!

She was sick of exploring, and desired but to be safe in her own room, with her own heart only privy to its folly; and she was on the point of retreating as softly as she had entered, when the sound of footsteps, she could hardly tell where, made her pause and tremble. To be found there, even by a servant, would be unpleasant; but by the general (and he seemed always at hand when least wanted), much worse! She listened–the sound had ceased; and resolving not to lose a moment, she passed through and closed the door.

At that instant a door underneath was hastily opened; someone seemed with swift steps to ascend the stairs, by the head of which she had yet to pass before she could gain the gallery. She had no power to move. With a feeling of terror not very definable, she fixed her eyes on the staircase, and in a few moments it gave Henry to her view.

“Mr. Tilney! How came you up that staircase?”

“How came I up that staircase! Because it is my nearest way from the stable-yard to my own chamber; and why should I not come up it? And may I not, in my turn, ask how you came here? This passage is at least as extraordinary a road from the breakfast-parlour to your apartment, as that staircase can be from the stables to mine.

‘I have been to see your mother’s room.”

“My mother’s room! Is there anything extraordinary to be seen there?”

“No, nothing at all.”

“You look pale. I am afraid I alarmed you by running so fast up those stairs. Perhaps you did not know–you were not aware of their leading from the offices in common use?”

“No, I was not.”

“And does Eleanor leave you to find your way into all the rooms in the house by yourself?”

“Oh! No; she showed me over the greatest part on Saturday–and we were coming here to these rooms–but only… your father was with us. I only wanted to see…”

“My mother’s room is very commodious, is it not? Large and cheerful-looking, and the dressing-closets so well disposed! It always strikes me as the most comfortable apartment in the house, and I rather wonder that Eleanor should not take it for her own. She sent you to look at it, I suppose?”

“No.”

“Eleanor, I suppose, has talked of her a great deal?”

“Yes, a great deal. That is–no, not much, but what she did say was very interesting. Her dying so suddenly” (slowly, and with hesitation it was spoken), “and you–none of you being at home–and your father, I thought–perhaps had not been very fond of her.”

“And from these circumstances,” “you infer perhaps the probability of some negligence–or it may be–of something still less pardonable.”

She raised her eyes towards him more fully than she had ever done before.

Catherine Morland grew up in that moment. She realized sometimes when a most beloved mother dies, it’s just because she ceased to live, not because of some murder plot by an overbearing husband. And by learning the reality of such situations, this led her to build more devious and believable plots in her career as a novelist…or that’s how I’ve written the end in my head anyway. 🙂

Do you like Northanger Abbey? what are your favorite parts?

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From Northanger to Frankenstein Event

Come for Jane Austen book geekage.
The Fall meeting of the Jane Austen Society.

Gain a deeper understanding of Catherine Morland by looking at her horror fan side. Was she just a silly young miss innocent of the real dangers of the world, or did she enjoy horror literature on a more intimate level in a way that fans of horror media today can relate to? Author Emmy Z. Madrigal will give insight on this most misunderstood heroine.

Frankenstein and the Problem of Exile
Professor Omar F. Miranda of USF will talk us through what Mary Shelley’s readers might have thought 200 years ago, when Frankenstein was published. What did it mean to be exiled, to be cut off from society? Displacement, banishment, as well as alienation and exclusion all figure into the narrative. How does the creature use exile for auspicious ends? Can Victor Frankenstein break free from what he has created?

Want to join the Jane Austen Society? Click here!

Movie Review: Love and Friendship

loveandfBeing a Jane Austen fan, I was really excited to see Love and Friendship, a film adaptation of the novel Lady Susan.

Lady Susan is a woman who has no qualms about her affair with a married man. She is selfish, rude, and controlling of her marriage-age daughter, but somehow in a charming way. She at first hitches her daughter to a silly man who rivals Mr. Collins in unnecessary speech. The young buck in this tale is Reginald DeCourcy, a man with wealth and title who falls for Lady Susan’s guise as the misunderstood widow.

The first thing that struck me while I watched was how the director used the opening to showcase a very unlikely technique reminiscent of the early age of film. With plain black background and wavy yellow font, I wondered if the film would be shot in silent. The introduction of characters was also shot in this fashion. I wasn’t sure if I liked this or if it made the film disjointed for me. The technique did add to the comedic fashion the film followed, but I am still undecided if I like it in a film so different in period.

There is no doubt that the entire movie carried Jane’s wit and sense of humor. Several of the sarcastic lines of Lady Susan’s are my all-time favorites of any of Jane’s books.

About a suitor,

“He’s too old to be governable, too young to die.”

About Alicia Johnson’s husband recovering from a gout attack when she wished he had perished,
“May Mr. Johnson’s next gouty attack end more favorably.”

love and f2Tom Bennett as Sir James Martin is the extra comedy relief and plays a nincompoop rather well. Along with Lady Susan’s sarcastic attitude, these two bring about a real sense of farce to the whole movie, which I rather enjoyed.

Sets, houses, and costuming in the movie were exquisite, especially for Kate Beckinsale who played Lady Susan. The reds and purples of Kate’s clothes were so vibrant and always made her the center of attention. However, I found the men’s breeches lacked proper tailoring. At first I thought it was just on the older men, but even the young buck DeCourcy’s outfits were in serious need of a crotch tailor.

kbeckThe almost unrecognizable Beckinsale (I’ll admit to only knowing her tough Underworld character) gave an outstanding performance playing a woman who was believable and dangerous. As for the other characters, I am not sure I liked them or not. The story in a whole is charming and funny but does not have the same happy resolution of Jane’s other works. When I say happy, I do not mean joyous, for of course there was a marriage at the end. I mean the story did not seem to mesh as well as her other works. In fact, it does not even hold the complexity of her other works. It’s as if someone said, “Jane, could you write a comedy without a proper ending, leaving out scenes here and there with no real resolution?” Perhaps this is why she did not publish it while she was alive. Perhaps she knew it needed something to make it complete?

So, as a Jane fan, I did enjoy seeing this missing piece from her, and I will most likely buy it on DVD, but it will only stand as part of a collection I love. This has inspired me, however, to re-read Lady Susan and see where (if any) mistakes or improvements were made.

Did you see Love and Friendship? What did you think? Please comment below.

Respect for Mr. Woodhouse

Being sick all week, I’ve found myself very much like Mr. Woodhouse in Emma.

Mr. Woodhouse: Cake! Surely you’re not serving cake at your wedding, Miss Taylor! Far too rich, you put us all at peril! Where is Mr. Perry, the apothecary? I’m sure he will support me!
Mrs. Weston: Ah, he is over there, Mr. Woodhouse, having some cake.

mrwAnd although we all know someone like Mr. Woodhouse—someone on the cautious side of health matters, carrying hand sanitizer everywhere and slipping on masks whenever possible—I think Jane might have included his comical personality to make fun of ourselves. For aren’t we all a little like Mr. Woodhouse at one time or another? Have you ever cancelled a date or appointment because the other person was recently ill? Have you washed your hands manically after visiting the doctor’s office? Have you gobbled Zicam because someone sneezed in front of you in line at the grocery store?

This week I have had to remind myself that things were so much more serious back in Mr. Woodhouse’s day. The truth is, if I’d had what I have now, back in the olden days, chances are I wouldn’t recover to blog about it. Only through the wonders of medical science have I conquered all the injuries and illnesses I’ve acquired during my life.

wanddIn fact, there were quite a bit of illnesses I might not have recovered from back in Regency England. One needs only watch the scene from Wives and Daughters where Molly and Roger can’t even touch because of illness to know how serious it was. Check out this blog post on lahilden.com if you want to get into a real hypochondriac state of mind. I mean we’re talking Cholera, Smallpox, Typhoid Fever… Really serious stuff!

You might be asking what the point of this blog is. Is it just a medication-induced rant brought on by too much Austen watching while sick? Is it because when you get sick you get all retrospective and try to make sense out of things we take for granted in our everyday lives?

mr woodhouseProbably. But because of this illness, I have gained a new respect for Mr. Woodhouse. He isn’t the scaredy-cat hypochondriac we all think he is, no! He’s just a man who cares enough for Emma and himself to want wellness to surround them. He knows the dangers of kids bringing illnesses home and of travelling in the rain.

No, I shall never look at Mr. Woodhouse the same again. He is to be applauded, to be revered!

Mr. Woodhouse: You must wrap up warm, Emma, in case some of the young dancers do something remarkably reprehensible, like opening a window.

Okay, so yeah, that might be a bit much. I’m sure I’ll come to my senses in 5-7 days.

Prescription: Watch Emma with a glass of hot cocoa and call me in the morning.

Stay well readers!

 

 

6 Things the Modern Woman Can Learn From Lizzy

lizzy

6 Things the Modern Woman Can Learn
From Lizzy in Pride and Prejudice.

  1. Don’t assume.

    Until you know the full story (from the horse’s mouth as they say) don’t assume the one who told you is telling the truth. Also don’t assume you know what’s going on by pictures or comments on social media or found out second-hand. Talk to him. Find out for sure. Then you can make an informed decision.

 

  1. Don’t overlook a quiet guy for a shiny new penny.

    If he sounds too good to be true, he usually is. Guys that boast about what they have or can do (or alternately how hard they’d had it, what trials and tribulations they’ve gone through) are usually just blowing smoke. Beware of tall tales and guys who like to toot their own horn. The quiet guys can be gems in the rough. He may be shy or not used to social situations, but has a heart of gold. Give him a second look and get to know him. Quiet guys are usually extremely loyal.

  1. Don’t give up on love.

    It’s really never too late to find your soulmate–or just somebody to have fun with. You deserve to be loved and share love with someone else and you never know when it will appear in the most unlikely of places. When it comes, don’t be closed to it. Don’t be so sure you are done that you are blind to the possibilities.

 

  1. Learn to forgive and be forgiven.

    Be gracious and allow him to apologize or change his mind just like you expect to be treated. Don’t expect him to be against reconcile, especially if the fight was your fault. Sometimes fights and the conversations after make for a stronger bond. Not to mention great make-up sessions!

 

  1. Learn to compromise.

    Not your morals or ideals, but perhaps your vision of Mr. Right might need to be skewed. I would never advise you to change your beliefs or standards, but maybe you have an unreal vision of THE ONE. Learn to let him have his beliefs and you yours, but they do not always have to match and sometimes it’s more fun if they don’t. How much fun will it be to live out your life with someone who is an exact copy of you? Our differences make life interesting.

 

  1. Be like Lizzy and voice your opinions.

    The man who doesn’t want your real opinion, isn’t the type you should pursue. A smart man will want to hear what you have to say and talk with you like a human being. A smart man wants a smart woman with her own views, interests, and hobbies.