One of the things I love most about Jane Austen novels, besides just the romance and the world it takes place in, is just how funny she is.
She is incredibly sarcastic and clever. Her voice as a writer is one of the most hilarious I have ever encountered. She presents a beautiful portrait of her society and the people in it, while at the same time laughing at it all.
This is also why I like Olivia Williams portrayal of Jane Austen in Miss Austen Regrets so much. She has so much life in it. She is constantly laughing and you can just see how she takes in the world around her and produces the incredible and hilarious words that she writes. When I watch Becoming Jane, I don’t see a Jane Austen who laughs. And when you read Austen’s novels you just know she is forever laughing at the joys and ridiculousness of life.
I think that Northanger Abbey is one of the best representations of Austen’s sense of humor. It was the first novel that she wrote (though it was not the first to be published) and so it is not as polished as some of her later works.
Northanger Abbey has been said to be a parody or satire of gothic novels. Though I have recently heard it said that she was not actually making fun of Gothic novels because she in fact loved them. I am of the opinion that you can joyfully make fun of something that you love. I love YA novels and I find them for the most part to be ridiculous and will make fun of them till the day ends, but that doesn’t mean I dislike them. I enjoy ridiculous things and Jane Austen was the same.
In Northanger Abbey, Austen laughs at the traditional set up of a gothic novel by making the heroine, Catherine to be a plain girl who enjoys reading Gothic novels and gets carried away with her imagination. Throughout the entire novel, Catherine keeps turning corners expecting to end up in the plot line of The Mysteries of Udolpho, but alas she’s only in a Jane Austen novel.
In the introduction of the book, Austen hilariously sets up Catherine’s background, pointing out all of the characteristics that separate her from the traditional Gothic Heroine.
Her father was a clergyman, without being neglected or poor.
Her mother was a woman of useful plain sense, with a good temper, and what is more remarkable with a good constitution.
I can just picture Jane Austen bent over her desk and smirking as she wrote these lines.
It’s also interesting to look at a parody written by Jane Austen, as I continue to explore her fandom. In the fandom, there have been many Jane Austen parodies.
A classic example would be The Jane Austen Fight Club:
And with that, the next Jane Austen novel I will be blogging through, is Northanger Abbey.