Northanger Abbey: ‘hastening together to perfect felicity’

  • Ashley Tauchert
Part of the Language, Discourse, Society book series (LDS)


Laura Mooneyham White makes a strong claim that the ‘persistence’ of the marriage plot, particularly ‘in popular culture’ and in the context of ‘our culture’s well-founded suspicions of marriage’, is ‘very odd indeed’. She nudges us to consider the marriage that resolves Austen’s novels less as ‘particular historical and social practice’ and more as an imaginary encounter with one of the ‘elementals of human experience’.107 White notes, however, that there is an unresolved problem with thinking of marriage as central to narrative completion: ‘How could one suggest that the movement to heterosexual pairing is the central narrative experience when heterosexual pairing is so clearly not a part of so many people’s lives?’108 This is only the case when we forget the necessary conditions of our own birth. Heterosexual pairing remains fundamental to human existence, however difficult it has become to reconcile the social conventions of marriage. But since it is difficult to say anything directly about the ‘elementals’ of human experience without universalising one’s own experience, it is probably best to approach them indirectly, and Austen’s Northanger Abbey is a good place to start.


Eighteenth Century Literary Work Metaphysical Realism Happy Ending Literary Mode 
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Copyright information

© Ashley Tauchert 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ashley Tauchert
    • 1
  1. 1.University of ExeterUK

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