When Henry met Catherine: Henry’s Function in the Plot of Northanger abbey and How it Influences Catherine her Naivety
In Jane Austen’s Northanger abbey, Henry Tilney plays the role of the antagonist the exposition and complication of the plot. However, his function changes in the role of an important supportive character. He helps Catherine Morland to overcome her naivety. This paper will analyse the diverse roles Henry plays at different moments in the plot, and how these roles influence Catherine her imagination and naivety.
In the exposition and the complication of the plot, Henry Tilney plays the role of the antagonist, in the sense that he encourages Catherine to apply the events she has read about in The Mysteries Of Udolpho, by Ann…show more content… By describing events that parallel those in the novels, but denoting them to happen in real life, more specific in the Northanger Abbey, he encourages Catherine to apply her imagination to real life even further. The influence of his words on Catherine is even greater if you consider the contrast between Henry’s reaction to Catherine talking about the novels she reads, and the reaction of Mr. Thorpe:
By degrading The Mysteries of Udolpho, and novels in general, Mr Thorpe makes Catherine feel “humbled and ashamed”. As a result of this, Catherine is even more enthusiastic when she gets a positive reaction from Henry.
Henry’s function changes in the role of an important supportive character in the climax of the plot. During the complication of the plot, Catherine spends most of her time fabricating theories about the history of the abbey and its inhabitants. Especially about the events revolving around the death of General Tilney’s wife, and how General Tilney would have been the cause of this. When Catherine asks Henry about his mother’s death, he discerns that she suspects General Tilney of murdering her, and admonishes