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Catherine Morland, Basic Character Information

Catherine Morland is Jane Austen’s youngest protagonist. She is largely inexperienced, imaginative, and naive but overall a good person.

Basic Information: 

No one who had ever seen Catherine Morland in her infancy would have supposed her born to be an heroine. - Northanger AbbeyAge: 17/18 for the main portion of the story, though the first chapter does summarize her childhood.

Primary Residence: Catherine lives with her family at the parsonage in the village of Fullerton in Wiltshire before her marriage. After her marriage she will live at the parsonage in Woodston. She spends most of the story in Bath, staying with Mr. and Mrs. Allen in “comfortable lodgings in Pulteney Street” and  visiting Northanger Abbey.

Spouse: Henry Tilney (at the end of the novel).

Parents: Mr. and Mrs. Richard Morland
Siblings: Catherine has nine siblings, three older brothers and six younger siblings including at least two sisters and one brother.

Physical Characteristics: The first chapter explains that as a child Catherine was very plain – she had a “thin awkward figure, a sallow skin without color, dark lank hair, and strong features[.]” As a child she also disliked cleanliness, probably connected with her love of boy’s games and playing outside. However by age 15 her appearance began to improve and she took pleasure at hearing her parents remark that she looked almost pretty.

Personality Characteristics: Catherine enjoys activity, as a child she preferred playing cricket to playing with dolls and throughout the book she is shown enjoying walks and dancing. As opposed to the common literary conventions of the day Catherine does not appear to have any particular talents or genius. She enjoys reading novels but shows little interest in books of information. She does have a vivid imagination, which spurred on by her love of gothic novels does lead her into some mistakes and misadventure. She is however a generally kind and well-behaved young woman who is concerned about the people around her and believes in doing the right thing. At 17 she is still somewhat naive, and this naivety is taken advantage of by other characters but this seems in character with her youth and past experience growing up in somewhat sheltered conditions in a happy family.

What to call her:

  • Catherine – Catherine does not appear to have a nickname so she is Catherine to her family and close friends.
  • Miss Morland – Before her marriage, everyone else. Since she is the oldest daughter she will be Miss Morland instead of Miss Catherine Morland, the only possible exception being if there was some other Miss Morland (probably of higher social rank) to distinguish her from.
  • Mrs. Tilney/Mrs. Henry Tilney – After her marriage, everyone else. When they are in the company of General Tilney and/or Frederick Tilney (or his wife if he ever marries) she will be Mrs. Henry Tilney. However, due to the 20 miles separation between Woodston and Northanger Abbey and the rather unpleasant characters of General Tilney and Captain Tilney I would think they will not often be in their company.

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