The March meeting will be on Saturday March 28, 2015 at 2:00pm at the Toco Hills Library in DeKalb County.
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The characters in Northanger Abbey display a great love of fashion and discussions of clothes are perhaps more prevalent in this work than in the other novels:
About Mrs. Allen: Dress was her passion. She had a most harmless delight in being fine; and our heroine's entree into life could not take place till after three or four days had been spent in learning what was mostly worn, and her chaperone was provided with a dress of the newest fashion.
About Catherine Morland: What gown and what head-dress she should wear on the occasion became her chief concern. She cannot be justified in it. Dress is at all times a frivolous distinction, and excessive solicitude about it often destroys its own aim. Catherine knew all this very well; her great aunt had read her a lecture on the subject only the Christmas before; and yet she lay awake ten minutes on Wednesday night debating between her spotted and her tamboured muslin, and nothing but the shortness of the time prevented her buying a new one for the evening.
And here is another description of Catherine Morland, which seems to parallel Jane Austen's own pretensions to fashion:
Catherine too made some purchases herself, and when all these matters were arranged, the important evening came which was to usher her into the Upper Rooms. Her hair was cut and dressed by the best hand, her clothes put on with care, and both Mrs. Allen and her maid declared she looked quite as she should do. With such encouragement, Catherine hoped at least to pass uncensured through the crowd. As for admiration, it was always very welcome when it came, but she did not depend on it.
And, Jane, in a letter to Cassandra in November 1800:
Did you think of our ball on Thursday evening, and did you suppose me at it? You might very safely, for there I was. On Wednesday morning it was settled that Mrs. Harwood, Mary, and I should go together, and shortly afterwards a very civil note of invitation for me came from Mrs. Bramston, who wrote I believe as soon as she knew of the ball. I might likewise have gone with Mrs. Lefroy, and therefore, with three methods of going, I must have been more at the ball than anyone else. I dined and slept at Deane; Charlotte and I did my hair, which I fancy looked very indifferent; nobody abused it, however, and I retired delighted with my success.
Finally, a discussion of Jane Austen and fashion would not be complete without her famous quote:
Besides, I cannot help thinking that it is more natural to have flowers grow out of the head than fruit.--What do you think on that subject? (Letter to Cassandra, June 1799)
|A satirical print from 1799 held by the British Museum. Years later, Jane told Cassandra, "the stays now are not made to force the bosom up at all; that was a very unbecoming, unnatural fashion."|