CATHERINE MORLAND’S CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT IN JANE AUSTEN’S NORTHANGER ABBEY

Mediha AŞKAROĞLU

Throughout the ages, the development of human character has always been an important issue for the establishment of a good society. Since Platon and Aristoteles, who handled morality and education, up to the present educational sciences and psychology, many books with various views have been written, and many researches have been carried out. Besides, scientific studies have focused upon human nature and tried to explain it through genetic, socio-genetic, social or sociocultural approaches, according to which they developed educational systems and institutions in order to have humans act in the desired way. Since the primitive religions and beliefs, which emerged in order to explain the mysterious natural events, and get rid of the fear of the unknown, up to the present heavenly religions, it has always been an important goal to direct human behaviour into a moral and socially acceptable set of conduct.

By setting the Victorian period as the basis of her novels, Jane Austen deals particularly with the morality of the period. As a realist author, she attaches great importance to the depiction of her female characters in their struggle to overcome their depravity and achieve higher social status. In Northanger Abbey, a novel of her early period as an author, the protagonist Catherine Morland needs to construct a new existence and attain a new personality by transforming herself from the poor villager girl into an acceptable woman in an aristocratic circle. Her lack of education, ignorance of human nature and aristocratic circles, as well as loneliness with no experienced adult to guide her leave her alone in a seemingly hostile and indifferent environment, where she has to find her own path by her own means. She finds herself amid the world of aristocrats and her personality develops in line with the choices and decisions she makes. This article, which examines her character development, aims to trace personality development through social and psychological terms, and analyse the transformation in her attitudes and perceptions.

Keywords: Northanger Abbey, Personality Construction, Maturation, Gender Roles, Female Identity