Monday, December 2, 2013

Austen Dudes: Henry Tilney

I have a feeling this post is going to be rather short.

Henry Tilney from Northanger Abbey never made a big impact on me. He seems like an average fellow - nice, charming, pleasant, and very kind. (I suppose that isn't average, but in the world of Austen heroes - it is.) Now, I'm not saying he's not a good character - I have nothing bad to say about Henry - but nothing really stands out.

Perhaps it is the nature of the book. Catherine Morland, our heroine, is possibly the most naive heroine in Austen's work - except for Fanny, from Mansfield Park, perhaps. But the difference between the two is that Northanger Abbey seems to be told more from Catherine's point of view than Mansfield Park is from Fanny's.
So - we have a heroine who is out in the world for the first time, who reads gothic romance novels, and who wants to find her dashing hero.
Because we see Henry from this perspective, he seems rather bland compared to Catherine's envisioned dashing hero. Our hopes are disappointed.

But only slightly.
If we step back and look at Henry from a rational perspective (Elinor to the rescue!) we see a very decent fellow. He's mature, he's caring, he knows how to joke around in a pleasant way ("Muslin can never said to be wasted!"), and he loves his sister. He's also living in his own house (very responsible), and doesn't have an extravagant income or expense. He's hilarious, too. Overall, a really great guy.

So I guess that, since Northanger Abbey is a parody of a gothic romance, Catherine does get her dashing hero - except he's dashing in an everyday sort of way. And truly, that's the best way, right? (At least for us Elinors it is...) So I suppose Henry Tilney is pretty awesome after all.

I'd also like to add that I've discovered that there's a fan-made cult for Henry Tilney called The Cult of Da Man. :-)


Here are my other posts on Austen dudes:

~Edward Ferrars (and a nod to Colonel Brandon) for Sense and Sensibility
~Fitzwiliam Darcy (seriously, what is up with that name?) for Pride and Prejudice

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