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|A different view of Henry - a challenge.
Written by Rachel G
(10/12/2010 2:47 p.m.)
Henry has come in for a fair amount of bashing in the GR so far, and rightly so. His faults are explicitly stated and clearly shown from the moment he enters the story. During this read of the novel I have been so repelled by his heartless attitude to women and by seeing him coldly seduce Maria for his own amusement that I now find myself interpreting everything he does and says with a very jaundiced eye indeed.
But I'm aware that many people have found Henry an attractive character, and I'm not at all convinced that JA intended him to be a thoroughgoing villain with no redeeming features - her portrayals are usually nuanced in shades of grey, rather than all dark or all light. So what am I missing?
Henry is intelligent, articulate, generally well mannered, and socially adroit.
His abilities as an actor suggest he is capable of some degree of empathy and/or imagination.
Henry's envy of William's active and useful life, and even his notion that he might like making sermons, could both imply that he is aware that something is lacking in his life and realises that in some ill-defined way he could be more than he is.
I cannot fault Henry for being attracted to a woman like Fanny. Are his feelings for her genuine, and does he truly believe his own rhetoric when he rhapsodises about her? If he has a hidden agenda, is he conscious of it or not?
I am aware of my own prejudice against Henry, and admit that I don't fully understand him. He is certainly no saint, but would anyone care to attempt a more charitable view of Henry Crawford than I can manage?
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