"To Begin Perfect Happiness": Jane Austen and Realism


After General Tilney abruptly and unexpectedly asks Catherine to leave Northanger Abbey, Catherine returns home. She is despondent until Henry arrives to apologize for his father’s behavior and to propose marriage, a proposal Catherine joyfully accepts. One of Northanger Abbey’s major lessons is that fiction is most valuable when it deepens our fascination with the reading of real life.


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Lorraine Murphy is associate professor of English at Hillsdale College. She received her B.A. from Davidson College and her M.A. and Ph.D. from Loyola University – Chicago.