How Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey is the epitome of what is wrong with fiction, according to Samuel Johnson’s Rambler No. 4.
Fiction and its growing popularity during the mid-1700’s was at the root of many problems within the literary community. It was a time of transition, the importance of poetry and prose was shifting towards works of fiction due to growing literacy within the general public. It became such a vital issue that one of the literary world’s finest contributors, Samuel Johnson, expressed his discontent for works of fiction and how it was degrading the quality of literature in Rambler No. 4. Jane Austen was a novelist, who came about during this transitional phase of time and she benefited from the novels newfound success. Even though Austen was a fictional writer she was known to be a fan of Samuel Johnson’s work. How is it that so much of her work suffers from the problems that Johnson had with fiction? The following will analyze the themes of the two works of literature. Also examining Johnson’s opinions from Rambler No. 4 and explore how Austen’s novel Northanger Abbey adheres to Johnson’s beliefs about fiction. How Austen’s work relates to other novels from the same period and how they encou
Catherine is constantly distracted with the topic of the gothic novel and how much she enjoys reading the books. Northanger Abbey falls into this same problem it is a story that could"tmve been told by anyone because it could"tmve happened to anyone. They fill themselves up with information that isn"tmt relevant when they should be reading works that will actually teach them something important. They are the entertainment of minds unfurnished with ideas, and therefore easily susceptible of impressions"" (Johnson, Rambler) The demographic of the novel is directed towards those who could easily be filled with fanciful thoughts, wives and kids who have too much free time on their hands. Characters that are not clearly defined will have a negative effect on the reading public, because they provide such a negative example to follow. The plain and simple nature of the novel is slowly eroding the quality of literature. "The works of fiction, with which the present generation seems more particularly delighted, are such as exhibit life in its true state, diversified only by accidents that daily happen in the world, and influenced by passions and qualities which are really to be found in conversing with mankind" (Johnson, Rambler). 120) She is always defensive about the topic and hesitant to think that anyone can appreciate to simple things that she enjoys. The story is more than just about the relationships that Catherine develops while in Bath and later in Northanger Abbey. Then there is Henry"tms absurd account of the room in which he goes into great detail about all of the features of the room where Catherine will stay while she"tms at Northanger. Moments like these detract from the continuity of the story, and it"tms just an unnecessary distraction to the reader. There is also General Tilney, who at first glance seems like a wonderful and loving host but when he finds out that Catherine is not as wealthy as he thought, he has her escorted from his house immediately in an effort to rid his family of her.