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Written by Angela L
(10/13/2010 3:16 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Thank Jane Austen! Thank Jane Austen!, penned by KatharineW
But you made an interesting point. Since he is apparently a good actor, he must be capable of empathy. I never thought about that before. But for some reason I see this empathy in a more self-centered sense. (Earlier there was a discussion about the symbolics of good and evil - it could also be interpreted as evil.)
I know this is about Henry's good side - but this is how I see Henry.
I would rather use the word "understand" than "empathise".
The word "empathy" for me implies a certain amount of integrity in the further actions of the empathizing person. I mean that based on the empathy, the person is able to feel for the person he is empathizing with and therefore does not deceive them or treat them badly.
Henry, on the other hand, I feel, is able to "understand" but not really "empathize" with others. But it is exactly this "understanding" that enables him to his further actions. His ability to "understand" people and subtle situations and feelings gives him the ability to manipulate people and situations very cleverly to his advantage.
And I believe that he has had this ability all his life and has grown used to using it. Probably he doesn't see it as "bad". He was probably treated the same way by the admiral, and Henry is probably used to it and nothing "bad" has ever come of it (at least for him) up to now, so that he has always had "fun" with it.
But I also wonder whether it is always only "fun" for him. It could also be seen as a shield against having to show his real emotions. If he were to really fall in love and show it, he would be vulnerable. And that wouldn't be so "fun". Thus the question, would he really be able to be so vulnerable and show Fanny his love? We'll have to wait and see if he falls so hard.
I see Henry as a sort of con-artist, and I am trying to imagine what would happen if he "really" fell in love. Which might have happened with Fanny.
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