Catherine Morland is a character like few others. First, she is the reaction of Jane Austen. That alone makes her special. However, she is also the first protagonist of the Jane Austen classics.
Let’s face it. If you are reading this, you are a romantic. And if you are a romantic, you love the idea of the heart palpitating because of a man’s simple gloved touch or his gaze over the heads of the other patrons at a ball.
But what is romance?
Back in the early 1800s, romance was something much different than what we think of it today in the 2010s. Personally, when I hear about a young woman marrying a man in the cultures that I study (Amish in particular), I get goose bumps. My own inclination to embrace romance stories gives me chills. After all, when it comes to my own husband, I did not like him, but he turned out to be my knight in shining armor. A little bit of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy??
Anyway, currently I am rewriting Northanger Abbey and I am finding that I like Catherine Morland very much. She is young and naïve. She can read books but not people. And she finds herself dipped in the world of fantasy which overtakes her reality. That is my kind of gal. She’s quite different than Elizabeth or Emma or Anne. She is her own person with her own background. Even more so, Catherine Morland is an amazing character who dives into the novels that she reads. She embraces the fantasy more than the reality.
But isn’t that the way that life is? Don’t we often steep ourselves in the falsehoods of fantasy and deny ourselves reality? Catherine Morland is a sensible girl who finds herself caught into this trap. How many of us have found ourselves in the same situation? The difference is that she quickly learns to accept her shortcomings and accept those of others. And that is the lesson to be learned in this classic by Jane Austen.