A Northanger Abbey Halloween

A Northanger Abbey Halloween

I’ve been thinking about Jane Austen and Halloween – two subjects that don’t really go together in spite of the cute pumpkins we see with her cameo painted or carved on them. Jane Austen didn’t write the kind of Gothic horror novels she both made fun of in Northanger Abbey, and hinted that she might enjoy. When I read that book, I find myself wishing that Catherine Morland might actually find something incriminating in the cabinet in her bedroom in the abbey, or that General Tilney really did murder his wife and then try to cover it up. There’s something delicious about those scary plots that appeal to us, whether we’re downright fans of horror novels or not. Of course, these moments of fright and intrigue in Northanger Abbey end up being nothing more than the result of Catherine Morland’s over-active imagination. As Henry Tilney finally says to her: “Dear Miss Morland, consider the dreadful nature of the suspicions you have entertained. What have you been judging from? Remember 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, your own observation of what is passing around you. Does our education prepare us for such atrocities? Do our laws connive at them? Could they be perpetrated without being known, in a country like this, where social and literary intercourse is on such a footing, where every man is surrounded by a neighbourhood of voluntary spies, and where roads and newspapers lay everything open? Dearest Miss Morland, what ideas have you been admitting?”

Poor Catherine. I understand her urge toward the mysterious and the terrifying. As a matter of fact, since Northanger Abbey is one of my very favorites of Austen’s novels, I sometimes like to hint at it in my own JAFF,

Here is a bit of a teaser from The Light in Mr. Darcy’s Eyes, where Aunt Gardiner says to Lizzy: “I know you feel at your wits end at this moment, Lizzy…but I am sure a solution can be found to all of this. I agree with your uncle, though. Mr. Wickham seems to have shown very poor judgment in the very least. If his motives are somehow worse than that, well, I wouldn’t know what to think. However, let’s try not to assume. We are not living in some Gothic novel; men do not kidnap helpless women in our day and age and force them into…God knows what.”

And in my latest, Pemberley Park – The Twelve Days of Christmas (Where Pride and Prejudice and Mansfield Park Meet, and Continue), which will be released on October 29th, Mr. Darcy remarks to Lizzy, “Our other guests will think it is strange that your sister has come and we have hidden her away like some heroine in a Gothic novel.”

I like to think that Jane herself found plenty to be horrified at in the Gothic novels she so loved to satirize, which makes me want to ask: is there anything extra spookily fun that you do at Halloween? I always like to get a bit of a fright on that evening whether it’s from a movie, or a particularly gruesome costume that I see. I guess I’m like Catherine Morland like that. I want to be scared, but not really.

 

14 Responses to A Northanger Abbey Halloween

  1. I used to curl up with a big slice of my mother’s fresh home made bread on a Saturday night and watch …was it called Horror Theater? and Twilight Zone. But the movies today include so much blood, gore and guts spilling out or monsters jumping out at you that I refuse to watch any since I want to be able to sleep at night. I like Northanger Abbey and have two DVDs of it. But like Glynis – nowadays it is P&P and N&S.

  2. I actually really love Mansfield Park, and I loved Northanger Abbey and of course I wanted some of her “suspicions” to be true 🙂 That would have made for a great story! I love that some of Austen’s heroines are so planted in reality and then some such as Catherine Morland live almost entirely outside that reality realm. I love scary movies and this book sounds great to me! Can’t wait to pick it up 🙂

  3. It’s strange because I love scary stories but only in certain formats. I grew up reading any book I could find that had any kind of urban legend. I watched tv shows like the Twilight Zone and the Outer Limits. But I cannot watch horror movies. I guess I don’t mind being scared as long as it can be mostly left to my imagination and not too graphically depicted.

  4. I too can’t watch scary movies but I love a good ghost story to read. I really like Mansfield Park. Every time I read it I get more from it. Northanger Abbey is a fav of mine too.

  5. As a teenager in the sixties I used to love horror movies but now I wouldn’t watch anything scary and prefer Rom com and period ( well alright I mostly watch P&P and North & South.)
    I have read all Jane’s other books and watched versions of them all but I wouldn’t think to buy the dvds . My least favourite is Mansfield Park I think with Northanger Abbey a close second.
    I was lucky enough to win The Light in Mr Darcy’s Eyes but haven’t been able to read it yet. Thanks for this post.

    • Hi Glynis! I agree that my least favorite is Mansfield Park, which is why I thought it would be fun to steal the most interesting characters from that book, Mary and Henry Crawford, and have them wreak a little havoc at Pemberley at Christmastime. I do love Northanger Abbey though. I’ve always been a sucker for the humor! Hope you enjoy The Light in Mr. Darcy’s Eyes!

  6. I don’t like horror movies either but that plot sounds absolutely fabulous! Northgate Abbey is such a great read too!

  7. I don’t like scary movies either — and Northanger Abbey is my favourite Jane story! I’m not sure I buy the story that the General didn’t off his wife, and I sincerely longed for a scene in which Catherine finds the wife, now a madwoman, locked away in some attic room …

  8. I’m sorry, I do not like scary movies. What few I have seen… in my earlier years, cinched it for the rest of my life. Kids today love scary movies… the scarier, the better. Nope… nada… not happening. I simply cannot handle it. So, I avoid them. Although, I do love to read a good paranormal book. I know… go figure.

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