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Discuss Northanger Abbey 2010 > Henry Tilney, Part 2 -- With Spoliers

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

Let's start a clean slate for Henry Tilney.


message 2: by [deleted user] (last edited Mar 09, 2010 01:38PM) (new)

Sarah posted:

Henry is a cynical man. He has classic medium child issues to work through. The author tells the reader at the end of the book that Henry goes to Catherine because she loves him, not mutually affection as the movies show. Henry wants ideals to come true but he has had a sad upbringing with a tryant for a papa. He uses his wit to hide his feelings. He is also brilliant. Smart people make jokes for their own amusement, not to put others at ease.
I am typing all this on my phone so I am sorry if this is messy:(


There is a passage in the book about Henry first being interested in Catherine because she is interested in him, but that he later falls in love with her for herself. If I can find it, I will post it here.

(Sorry Sarah, that I can't remember how to move a post over in it's entirety! Someone showed me once, so I should write these things down. Please message me, if you want to talk about my moving your post.)


message 3: by VMom (last edited Mar 09, 2010 01:50PM) (new)

VMom (votermom) | 68 comments Jeannette wrote: "There is a passage in the book about Henry first being interested in Catherine because she is interested in him, but that he later falls in love with her for herself. "

I think it's human nature to be attracted by someone's open affection. Here's the quote you are thinking of, in chapter 30:

She was assured of his affection; and that heart in return was solicited, which, perhaps, they pretty equally knew was already entirely his own; for though Henry was now sincerely attached to her, — though he felt and delighted in all the excellences of her character, and truly loved her society, — I must confess that his affection originated in nothing better than gratitude; or, in other words, that a persuasion of her partiality for him had been the only cause of giving her a serious thought.


message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

Thank you! I should remember that Austen always gives these beautiful little summaries at the end. :)


message 5: by Margaret (new)

Margaret Metz | 112 comments Mayakda wrote: "Jeannette wrote: "There is a passage in the book about Henry first being interested in Catherine because she is interested in him, but that he later falls in love with her for herself. "

I think i..."


First off ~ I love a clean slate. :o)

Second ~ I took that quote to mean that the interest started on her side and was returned because he saw it and basically was flattered and enjoyed being around her. As time went by he learned to care for her - but it started because of her interest in him.

I did feel there was genuine affection. I also felt that there was nothing to particularly draw Henry's attention. Catherine was not ugly but she wasn't one of the prettiest girls either. She wasn't wealthy and he knew his father wouldn't approve. So other than herself (and her love for him is part of that) there was nothing to attract him.


message 6: by SarahC, Austen Votary & Mods' Asst. (last edited Mar 10, 2010 06:00AM) (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1473 comments Mod
We were discussing in the Catherine thread that maybe Catherine stood apart from all those husband-hunters that must have flooded Bath all the time. And I still believe Catherine must have had some spark to her, that she had never fitted in with what was expected of the typical girl (I am getting that from the introduction-Chp 1). Maybe Henry saw she wasn't ordinary.

Also, we see this sweet scene of her not being ordinary (haha!) when she is explaining to Henry that she had been misled by the Thorpes and that she would have rather spent the day with him and his sister. She is so honest here and unpretentious, I am sure she stood our from girls who would have still acted lofty, even at this point.


message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

I think that Henry wasn't in the market for a wife just yet. And Catherine certainly wasn't thinking about finding a rich husband. So their chance meeting was not forced or awkward in any way. This gave Henry the opportunity to stand out for his own goodness and for Catherine to fall in love with him for it.


message 8: by SarahC, Austen Votary & Mods' Asst. (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1473 comments Mod
Very well said, Jeannette. I commented on the same thing earlier and think that is my favorite thing about Northanger -- how Catherine and Henry just meet in a crowd and get together on their own.

That also reminds me how there was a master of ceremonies who would introduce couples -- "properly" even though they were strangers. I think this is cool. I wish we had those today -- it would be so polite and proper to be formerly introduced to people. At any big social gathering, there should be one!


message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

I guess the master of ceremonies got replaced when the "sticky" badge was invented "Hello My Name Is" :)


message 10: by SarahC, Austen Votary & Mods' Asst. (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1473 comments Mod
yes, that sticky hello badge is a charmer! ha ha And it goes with so many outfits!


message 11: by [deleted user] (new)

*******Spoilers for Austen "Newbies"************

Sarah posted (message 2) about Henry being a middle-child and having to deal with family issues (he had a few). This got me to thinking about Austen's portrayal of second sons and middle children. You would suppose that second sons had to seek a "good" match in terms of money (as Col. Fitzwilliam did in P&P). Think about how many of Austen's men should have married "up" (and could have), but didn't:

Edmund Bertram chose Fanny (who had little or nothing), Henry Tilney chose Catherine (who was not wealthy), Frederick Wentworth chose Anne (the family had title, but were cash poor) and Edward Ferrars, who wanted to be the second son (and got his wish), chose Elinor. Just an interesting idea I have been chewing on.


message 12: by VMom (last edited Mar 19, 2010 06:00AM) (new)

VMom (votermom) | 68 comments I have a silly question about Henry. Would he properly be addressed as Reverend Tilney?

Was he a parson or a vicar? (I am rather unclear on the difference, actually, but the internet tells me a vicar would be part of CoE heirarchy, and a parson would not)

Jeanette, that's an interesting observation about second sons. Eliza Bennet & Ann Elliott were also second children, and they probably the most sensible Austen heroines.


message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

Unfortunately, it fails when we get to Marianne, who left all the sense to her older sister. Still, it's interesting to think about. :)

I hope someone has an answer about Reverend vs. Vicar -- something I would love to know, too.


message 14: by Lani (new)

Lani (lani14) | 57 comments Mayakda wrote: "I have a silly question about Henry. Would he properly be addressed as Reverend Tilney?

Was he a parson or a vicar? (I am rather unclear on the difference, actually, but the internet tells me a vi..."


Not a silly question. I wondered that too so I went looking for the answer on another JA board.
Reverend is an adjective not a title in this time period. It can be used to talk ABOUT Mr Tilney but not TO him. As in addressing letters to Reverend Tilney but not when speaking to Mr. Tilney.

Here is the link for a better explanation:
http://www.pemberley.com/bin/archives...


message 15: by VMom (new)

VMom (votermom) | 68 comments Lani wrote: "Mayakda wrote: "I have a silly question about Henry. Would he properly be addressed as Reverend Tilney?

Was he a parson or a vicar? (I am rather unclear on the difference, actually, but the inte..."


THANKS!!!!
(I bookmarked that board ... fascinating)


message 16: by Samantha (new)

Samantha (samanthan) | 25 comments I have to say I love Henry Tilney much more than Darcy or Captain Wentworth! Those two are very romantic and all, but they lack Henry's appeal and wit. I think Henry is more of a realistic romantic interest someone could actually have a crush on, rather than a symbol of romantic ideals like Darcy. I'll talk a personable character like Henry over Darcy any day!


message 17: by [deleted user] (new)

Samantha wrote: "I have to say I love Henry Tilney much more than Darcy or Captain Wentworth! Those two are very romantic and all, but they lack Henry's appeal and wit. I think Henry is more of a realistic romantic..."

I agree, Samantha. Henry Tilney is just a regular, down-to-earth sort of guy. He can be loved without being romanticized. He was the perfect counter-point to all of Catherine's wild imaginings.


message 18: by Samantha (new)

Samantha (samanthan) | 25 comments Yes, Henry and Catherine contrast each other wonderfully. Other things that make Henry Tilney appealing: he comes from a well-to-do family but he still has a profession and he loves Catherine for who she is, rather than trying to change her. One thing about Darcy that annoys me is that he insults Lizzie's looks when they first meet and sees her as his inferior in the beginning. Henry knows how to tease Catherine without being rude.


message 19: by SarahC, Austen Votary & Mods' Asst. (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1473 comments Mod
Yes, Darcy surely had his problems in the beginning. I think this aspect of Northanger is different and more interesting than the other Austens because the protagonists meet on neutral ground and begin to know each other for who they are -- not through their connections.


message 20: by Karis (new)

Karis (alohakaris) Samantha wrote: One thing about Darcy that annoys me is that he insults Lizzie's looks when they first meet and sees her as inferior in the beginning. Henry knows how to tease Catherine without being rude.

I absolutely agree! Henry just seems so much more accepting and less prideful then Mr. Darcy, even though he is rich as well. If I had to choose between an interview with Mr. Darcy and Henry Tilney, I'm going to take Henry! He is so much less intimidating and probably someone you could easily converse with!


message 21: by Kim (new)

Kim | 181 comments Darcy is very abrasive when you're first introduced to him, but I think he's my favorite of Austen's male leads because of how his love for Lizzie transforms him! Henry is a great guy too - I love that he's funny - honestly what other Austen male lead was funny? I like how even though his father is against it at first he still tells Catherine that he loves her and wants to marry her. I respected Catherine's parents a lot for wanting them to wait to get married until Henry's father agreed to it.


message 22: by Susan (new)

Susan | 106 comments I guess, better late than never, I will continue the discussion of Henry Tilney with some ideas from a recent paper I wrote:
In my paper I wrote this famous passage spoken by Henry Tilney:
“What have you been judging from? Remember the country and the age in which we live. Remember that we are English, that we are Christians. Consult your own understanding, your own sense of the probable, your own observation of what is passing around you-Does our education prepare us for such atrocities? Do our laws connive at them? Could they be perpetrated without being known in a country like this, where social and literary intercourse is on such a footing; where every man is surrounded by a neighborhood of voluntary spies, and where roads and newspapers lay everything open? Dearest Miss Morland, what ideas have you been admitting?”
spoken by Henry Tilney, Northanger Abbey.

I wrote about the irony of this passage and, if read literally, this quotation would suggest that Catherine was being educated by Henry. As we see in the novel, Catherine is much more aware of what is going on and is able to see, albeit in the wrong circumstances, that General Tilney is not a very good man. I have a few problems with what Henry says:
First, this idea of “English civility” is not always a positive thing, and the inception of the Gothic novel has been theorized to come from the underlying dangers and anxieties involved in this idea of civility and the English gentleman. Secondly, Henry’s use of the pronoun “our” seems to include Catherine, since he is speaking to her, but, if we analyze exactly what he is saying, he must mean someone else. Catherine’s education had been much different than Henry’s and the laws are the very things that make women powerless in society. These laws and this education are not Catherine’s. Thirdly, Henry is correct in saying that Catherine needs to become more empirical, but he is exposing his own lack in the ability to analyze his own environment and the people who are closest to him i.e. his own father's ulterior motives regarding Catherine and his subsequent discarding of Catherine from the abbey.

The general treats Catherine like unwanted goods. Decorum vanishes in this situation because in the General's eyes, Catherine is no longer part of this "game of civility". He does not need to be civil to Catherine, or apologize, because, to the General, she has become a nobody.

So, in the end, Catherine turns out to be right in her suspicions. The reader realizes that this novel is not only about the education of Catherine, but Henry too learns that his nationalistic idealism is just as fictitious as Catherine's reliance on the Gothic. I believe that both Catherine and Henry grow in this novel, and this could be the reason why they make such a perfect couple at the end of the novel, in my eyes anyway ;)

Hope this adds to what you have already discussed. I haven't read through the threads yet...


message 23: by Susan (new)

Susan | 106 comments About my previous comment, I'm sorry to sound so scholarly. It was difficult to get away from the language of the paper to get my ideas out. I also want to add how much I love this novel after very careful reading. I think Austen wrote this particular work in order to facilitate conversation about it. Opinions of the novel have changed so much over the years, and still are changing as we speak! That is the beauty of it.


message 24: by [deleted user] (new)

Thanks for posting, Susan! I need a few minutes to read your post and to think about it, before I respond to it. :) Like I said, I really like Henry Tilney! He's a thinker and a realist and a man of honor. The perfect mate for "silly" Catherine Morland.


message 25: by Susan (last edited Jun 01, 2010 02:14PM) (new)

Susan | 106 comments I agree, Jeannette. Opposites make the best couples, in my book! By the way, I've read through the threads now, and I see that this book brought out an extensive discussion! ;) Hopefully, my ideas are not redundant. The discourse got complicated there for a bit, I see!


message 26: by [deleted user] (new)

Susan wrote: "I agree, Jeannette. Opposites make the best couples, in my book! By the way, I've read through the threads now, and I see that this book brought out an extensive discussion! ;) Hopefully, my idea..."

That's a polite way to put it! lol I have been chewing on a reply, in between things I had to do, so I am going to comment, soon. :)


message 27: by SarahC, Austen Votary & Mods' Asst. (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1473 comments Mod
Nice observations in the comment from your paper, Susan. Henry is in contrast with his own environment, isn't he? He and his sister both seem nothing like the elder Tilney. They do seem more positive, accepting and kind. So do you think Henry's role was purposefully to be the voice of reason that would be necessary to set this up as a Gothic? His dad was a wicked, ignoble villain right in the same household and Henry doesn't even see his extent. Henry still believes in the polite system.

While this seems a lack in Henry, he still comes away as a sort of savvy, easy-in-society kind of person. And I really believe something in the two (Henry and Cath) honestly connected, moreso than other Austen couples. Or at least I seemed to see it more in this couple who just meet at the assembly rooms (no big fanfare or connections) -- know what I mean?


message 28: by [deleted user] (new)

Susan, you bring up some interesting points. When using "our," I believe that Henry refers to the educated male population of the gentry. He certainly includes Catherine as part of that society, because it is obvious that he believes women capable of intelligent thought. He expresses his dismay that she would turn away from what she knows to be good and true about civilized society and follow her "gothic" flights of fancy. Henry has his head in the clouds. He can't imagine that any civilized person would be "allowed" to perpetrate such hideous crimes. Notice that he never once is aghast that she could accuse General Tilney. Does he exclaim "No, my father loved my mother!"? That tells me something about Henry's attitude to his father. I don't think he was shocked that he put Catherine out, just angered and shamed!

So, I think Henry chastises Catherine for her wild imaginations and her lack of faith in the English, Christian society they live in. I don't think the General's behavior truly justifies Catherine's suspicions, but it does serve to open Henry's eyes to the "chinks in the armor" of the English gentleman. He really seems a bit oblivious and trusting in society and his perception of proper behavior.

I do think that Catherine will flourish under Henry's care and tutelage. And Henry will have a wife with a tender heart who will adore him! What more could he desire?


message 29: by Susan (last edited Jun 03, 2010 05:10AM) (new)

Susan | 106 comments Yes, Sarah, I agree there was some definite chemistry between them. That I don't doubt. My paper was more about what Austen is trying to tell us within this romance. I think the big clue is how as soon as Catherine is thrown out by General Tilney, the mood of her writing suddenly changes. There is a sense of emptiness, refusal, departure in her language at this point in the novel. So, she leaves the abbey full of all the connotations of the Gothic into the world of reality which can be even more terrifying. And yes, Jeannette, Tilney's crime isn't nearly as bad as Catherine suggests, but what he does to Catherine has so many connotations as to how he feels about women, values, and civility itself that he can be considered pretty scary and a true villain. The contrast between the fiction of the Gothic and the true terror of reality is what I felt was at the heart of this novel. I love how she is able to include all the ironic interplay of language within a great love story. That's the beauty of Austen, after all.


message 30: by Susan (new)

Susan | 106 comments Sarah-Yes,Henry does seem to be the idealistic, kind, voice of reason to Catherine. Unfortunately, too idealistic for the world, but we all need to be that way!


message 31: by Margaret (new)

Margaret Metz | 112 comments Susan wrote: "I guess, better late than never, I will continue the discussion of Henry Tilney with some ideas from a recent paper I wrote:
In my paper I wrote this famous passage spoken by Henry Tilney:
“What ha..."


I think Henry was speaking in generalities - which can always be debated because there are people who break them. However, on the whole, people cared about their reputation, faith and standing in the community. They had all these rules and regulations that weren't just criminal laws - but codes of polite society. Breaking them would ruin a person. I believe it was more those codes that he was talking about than anything else. Everyone was very concerned with how things looked to all their neighbors and peers - and gossip was a HUGE pastime.

I think he knew that his father was not a loving and kind person, but Henry knew he was not at fault with his mother's death. I think Henry was genuinely shocked she would consider it and wanted her to consider what kind of person it would really take to do that.

Also, both Henry and his sister were unaware of the reasons General Tilney was being so kind to Catherine. I don't think either one considered that he would treat her the way he did.

Henry wasn't oblivious to what "gentlemen" were capable of because he knew how his brother was acting ... and tried to warn Catherine about that as well. I don't think he was as idealistic as he was trying to bring balance.

I think Henry's teasing aside, he had fairly progressive views about the intelligence and value of women. Of course - I'm biased because he's one of my favorite heroes. I also am not very scholarly.


message 32: by Susan (new)

Susan | 106 comments Lee, I agree with you in many ways. First off, Henry's attitude toward women is very progressive. He treats Catherine as his equal, which is what makes him so angry at her reliance on Gothic fiction in understanding real life. Henry is also very idealistic, which is wonderful, but I really don't think he sees that others do not see women as being equal to men in society, and society itself is a testament. In order for a woman to thrive in society, she must marry. She has very few rights otherwise. To me, Henry is both naive and idealistic, which is the reason why Northanger Abbey seems to be about the education and growth of both Catherine and Henry. Really beautiful when you think about it. Two people coming together, learning from one another in the process.


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