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|Henry has the Edge
Written by Robbin
(9/27/2010 5:50 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Maria and Henry - what a pair!, penned by Rachel G
I think both Maria and Henry are warped and dishonorable but I give the edge to Henry. I agree there is reason to pity Maria and I do and Julia also as much as I can because as you rightly said at least for all Maria, and I’ll add Julia again, has done wrong their feelings for Henry were genuine. I cannot excuse but do understand how love and passion can be the driving force for poor dishonorable choices, especially when so much selfishness is involved. Henry is terribly selfish as well but the same cannot be said for him. His callousness towards the Miss Bertrams’ is chilling. He is a user and it appears he considered them more as objects for his amusement than feeling individuals who could suffer which of course they do.
I agree with what others have said of Henry’s reasons for liking Miss Bertram best and will just add to the list. One of the reasons Henry preferred Maria was her beauty and manner. He told Mrs. Grant that between Maria and Julia the first “has the advantage in every feature, and I prefer her countenance… is certainly the handsomest, and I have found her the most agreeable” (5) and in addition he liked her the better for her choice already having been made:
“An engaged woman is always more agreeable than a disengaged. She is satisfied with herself. Her cares are over, and she feels that she may exert all her powers of pleasing without suspicion. All is safe with a lady engaged: no harm can be done.”
There is not only less danger of Henry’s attentions to Maria arousing expectations but also of her attentions to him arousing suspicions because only someone very ungenerous would suspect Miss Bertram of distinguishing a man other than her fiancé. Edmund will not believe it of either of them in Ch. 12. I feel the crucial idea above is that Henry believes a woman engaged feels she can use her powers of pleasing without suspicion and thus the intrigue is more exciting and personally rewarding for him than one with Julia.
In one sense I think you must be right with the idea Henry considered both the Miss Bertrams fair game otherwise he would not have targeted them for his scheme. In another sense however his ‘taking particular pains… to do away any little resentment’ (10) of Julia & Rushworth at Sotherton and considering the quarrel with Julia a ‘lucky occurrence’ (17) to prevent raising expectations illustrates he knows his behavior is not proper or honorable. Lastly I think Henry understands his trifling with the sisters is an attack on the honor of Rushworth and the brothers Bertram and Sir Thomas. I think his worry about raising expectations in other quarters concerning Julia (17) is not in her but expectations in her brothers. (:D)
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