In this past week I have been finishing Northanger Abbey and as wonderful as the romance is in it, I think one of the most important lessons is about friendship. Catherine learns throughout the novel how to better read people, in particular her friends. She starts out completely fooled by Isabella Thorpe. Catherine thinks that they have a mutual friendship while Isabella is most likely just using Catherine to get closer to her brother James. For me Isabella has always been that friend that every young girl has. She is completely self consumed, silly, hyper sensitive and mellow dramatic. (What 16 year old hasn’t known someone like this?). Isabella’s false friendship with Catherine revolves around Gothic novels, shopping and young men. All of which point out, though slowly to Catherine, Isabella’s failure as a true friend.
In thinking about Isabella this week, my Jane Austen class was writing short papers on topics of our choice for Northanger Abbey. One of my friends Maggie Lally, decided to make a modern day Isabella. Her reincarnated Isabella was a teen blogger who oozed about everything from shopping to young men. The new “Bella” had most of my Jane Austen class roaring with laughter when Maggie read it aloud so I thought I would pass it on to the world at large. Maggie was so nice to let me share this wither everyone and I hope y’all enjoy it as much as I did. It was pretty clever!
Maggie says of Isabella; “It seems that, given her love for both fashion and creating drama, she might best appear in the modern world as a teenaged blogger, such as xx_cutiepie22_xx, a “writer” on the fictitious site http://www.blogalot.com. Evidence of xx_cutiepie22_xx resembling Isabella Thorpe is as follows in this selected blog entry”
March 10th, 200-
Title: OMG!!!!!!!!1!!! New friendzzzzz!!!!!!!1
So, like, I was totally bummed when Mom said that we had to travel so she could “get over” Dad… like, I don’t get it, but whatev. At least I got some new clothes and stuff. I spent a ton of my money at like my two favorite stories EVER, Sephora and Victoria’s Secret. Like, OMG, I could totally shop there every day! Both places, I mean, cause like, they make me look so amazing and really, my sisters are just OK next to me. Daddy always said I was the pretty one, so I’m glad that Mom’s letting me spend his money… I just have to like find a guy that will let me spend his money too, cause, like, what else are boyfriends for????
So then, I get to go shopping and when I get back she’s all like “hey we’re going to Bath, which is a spa town” and I was all excited because, like, um the spa? Fabulous! I’ll come back looking better than I usually do! But then Mom was all, no, it’s the ancient city with “healing waters”-whatever, I am so not there for that. And the club scene is pretty happenin’ too and that will keep me busy. She said there’s like, a ton of shops and stuff too, so I can look totally HAWTTTTTT.
BTW, I totally met this really sweet girl, Catie, the other day. She’s pretty, like, you know, innocent, cause I think she came from one of those, you know, really big homeschooled families or something, because, like, she doesn’t know anything about fashion or what life is like in her little country town. It’s kinda a bummer, but then, like, it’s kinda fun too because I get to tell her, like, everything. I totally think we’re gonna be BFF, but maybe that’s just cause most of the people here are totally too full of themselves and like, I don’t know many people yet. So we get together to hang out every day because, like, seriously, we don’t have much else to do. I mean, my feet start hurting after all the walking I do here-shopping takes so much out of me. For realz.
I guess that’s all for now. We’re gonna go hike for a while with my brother Jack and her brother, Jimmy, who is so totally GORGEOUS! He’s an absolute babe and I think he’s got money too-apparently their family is rich, so that whole ton of kids thing is just cause the parents are weird.
EDIT: OMG!!!1!! I totally hate Catie right now! She’s totally unfair cause, like, she was supposed to go hang out with this super rich girl named Eleanor (like, for real? Who names their kid that? Her parents obviously hate her) and we were all gonna go for a drive, me and Jack and Jimmy (BTW, I totally think that Jimmy is gonna ask me out, like to be his girlfriend for real, which would be totally amazing, cause like I said, he’s a babe), but Jack threw a total hissy fit because, like, it’s unfair for him to be alone while Jimmy and I are gazing into each other’s eyes (we’re going to have beautiful babies, like, I swear!) and I totally see his point, but stupid Catie wouldn’t give in and was all “oh, no I need to do this. I like Eleanor” blah blah blah. She’s just selfish and self-centered because even when I told her that we were BFF and that, OMG, I just couldn’t go without her, she insisted on having things her way. I HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE her!!!!!!1!!!!1!!!!!!
As the blog entry demonstrates, young women of Isabella Thorpe’s temperament still exist, since phony, fashion-conscious girls did not cease to exist after Jane Austen’s day. Bloggers like xx_cutiepie22_xx demonstrate, however ignorant they might be of Austen’s characters, that the fictional characters bear great resemblance to real life characters.
Austen was not writing merely of Bath society but showing the ignorance and folly of youth. Overall I loved Maggie’s Bella. I can just see her typing away on a blog pouring over gossip columns much like Isabella Thorpe poured over the Bath Arrivals book! Guess the world really doesn’t change. Until next week!
Virginia Claire our Austen at Large roving reporter is a college student studying English literature and history who just returned from her time studying abroad in Bath England and working as an intern at the Jane Austen Centre. She is the Regional Coordinator of JASNA North Carolina and a lifelong Janeite. She will be sharing her thoughts on all things Austen this semester and remembering her travels in Austenland.