19th Century Novel
February 10, 2015
At the opening of the Novel, Austen states, “She never could learn or understand anything before she was taught; and sometimes not even then, for she was often inattentive, and occasionally stupid. Her mother was three months in teaching her only to repeat the 'Beggar's Petition'; and after all, her next sister, Sally, could say it better than she did" . Beggar’s Petition is a poem published in 1769, written by the Reverend Thomas Moss. This was only poem among the many Moss wrote that stood out. It is said to have been written when Moss was 23. It was picked by the Gentleman’s magazine and many people tried to acclaim ownership on the poem because it was initially published anonymously. The poem is about a poor man who has been rejected from all sources of income who finally gives up to live a poorer life through begging. “He lists his sorrows: a failed farm, a daughter seduced, and a dead wife; and finishes by calling Heaven’s blessings on his benefactor” . The poem became really famous in 1828 and was given to virtually every child to learn and recite. Many literally scholars mentioned this poem in their works like Austen did in Northanger Abbey.
The significance of this poem in Northanger Abbey is little yet significant. The poem describes a poor man and Catherine’s father was poor. It describes the poor man’s daughter as “seduced”, which in Catherine’s case might mean different and “seduced” by the feminist habits. And last but not the least, the poem mentions the dead mother. Even though, Catherine’s mother is alive in the novel, Austen hovers over the thought that the mother well should have been dead at childbirth because it was almost as if the mother was missing in Catherine’s life. On the other hand, Austen tries to prove the fact that Catherine was different than other girls her age by mentioning that she was not able to recite the Beggar’s Petition even...
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