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And no, autocorrect, I didn't mean "Northerner". Yeesh.

This is a post related to a specific character in a Jane Austen novel (and one that not enough people have read), BUT the point I'm about to make doesn't require knowledge of the particular novel or characters - it's a key point about character development and what makes for a lasting impression.

I have always thought Henry Tilney the most charming of all the heroes in Jane Austen's works (though a sort of case might be made for Henry Crawford, but he is not actually the hero - one can understand why so many of Austen's friends and relatives liked him so much, though). When we first meet Henry, it's in social settings and he is flirtatious and charming. A bit later, in social settings, he is not only flirtatious and charming, but adds just the slightest bit of edge - call it, perhaps, jealousy - into his remarks when another character flirts with Catherine, the heroine, to let her know that he's annoyed that another guy is trying to distract Catherine from Henry during their dance set together. (Dance sets took upwards of half an hour or more in a crowded ballroom, and he wanted her attention all to himself for that time period.)

When Henry first spends time with Catherine (and his sister) on a walk, he remains charming, but also manages to tease Catherine and his sister a bit. He has no trouble having fun at their expenses, until such time as he realizes that his sister is genuinely alarmed by something, at which point he settles her anxiety - marking him as a nice guy, even if he had just been amusing himself at the expense of both women.

Henry has no problem chatting and teasing and whatnot throughout the novel. But there comes a time in the story when Catherine makes a complete ass of herself in front of him by insinuating that his father may have murdered his mother, and although he sets her straight (and perhaps just a bit pedantically), he never once brings it up again. In fact, he makes sure that he's extra-solicitous of Catherine after that, and makes certain she can't feel unhappy for too long.

And that, I think, is what clinches it for me . . . that one little confidence or oversight (of a rather large gaffe) from a character that seems only too happy to make fun of smaller foibles is, I think, what makes him one of the sweetest male heroes ever written - not just by Austen, but ever.

I hope to hear from those of you with thoughts on Henry Tilney or on what makes characters resonate well with you!

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( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Jul. 10th, 2015 10:16 pm (UTC)
He DOES have the best sense of humor, with lots of warmth and charm.
Jul. 24th, 2015 07:46 pm (UTC)
I loved him to, especially for his wit.
Jul. 28th, 2015 11:56 pm (UTC)
I agree completely.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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