Quick Index Board Index Home FAQ Site Map
|My focus - Brother and sister relationships
Written by Nicki
(4/14/2006 5:43 p.m.)
It's taken a while, but I've finally got round to writing about my focus – the three brother/sister relationships in the novel. I've already covered James and Catherine for the first 16 chapters, which you can find here.
Okay, John and Isabella Thorpe. * cringes *
The first we see of this relationship is in Chapter 7, where John 'slightly and carelessly touched the hand of Isabella' by way of greeting. This is quite a contrast to Catherine's reception of her brother! It has no affection, only acknowledgement, on his side. For Isabella's part, she is surprised to see him along with James, but she is most engrossed by the latter – even more so than he is by her. The one time she speaks to him, he repulses her with “I did not come to Bath to drive my sisters about; that would be a good joke, faith!”
Through the next few chapters, Isabella is urging John's suit with Catherine. “I assure you, my brother is quite in love with you already” “John is just the same, he has amazing strong feelings” “How different to your brother and to mine! I really do believe John has the most constant heart” “John thinks very well of him, and John's judgement --” I am doubtful as to whether this is merely because she wants another rich connection to Catherine's family. I think she does want her brother to be happy and rich (which I suppose comes to the same thing, with them). John is pleased with her engagement, but that's about as far as we hear of it.
I've been interested to see John's relationship with his other sisters. “On his two younger sisters he then bestowed an equal portion of fraternal tenderness, for he asked each of them how they did, and observed that they both looked very ugly”. Ugh. Is this his style of affection, or does he really not care? Later, at the ball, he mentions to Catherine “the four greatest quizzers in this room; my two younger sisters and their partners. I have been laughing at them this half-hour”. This is hardly the behaviour of a loving brother – teasing is all very well, but laughing at them in that manner to Catherine is not nice at all. He is unfeeling towards Anne in picking which to come on the outing: “John would have me go, for he vowed he would not drive her because she had such thick ancles.”
Such a contrast between the Thorpes and the Tilneys! The first time we see Eleanor and Henry together, he is “talking with interest to a fashionable and pleasing young woman who leant on his arm, and whom Catherine immediately guessed to be his sister”. Immediately we see that they have a close relationship and that he is very attentive to her, from the two points of her leaning on his arm and their talking with interest. This is all we learn from the first 9 chapters, and yet it gives a better impression than we find of the relationships between Isabella/John or Catherine/James.
Of all three brothers, Henry is by far the most attentive and caring, and we can see that he enjoys making an effort to spend time with his sister. The walk to Beachen Cliff is planned with both Henry and Eleanor, and it is here that we see them conversing and get a true insight into their relationship. They enjoy talking about their attempt to read together, she admonishes him in a friendly manner when he begins to become incomprehensible to Catherine, and he admonishes her when she misunderstands Catherine, in the most delightful way possible. (Here you see my partiality for Henry Tilney creeping through :-P). Eleanor expresses high regard for her brother. “I assure you that he must be entirely misunderstood if he can ever appear to say an unjust thing of any woman at all, or an unkind one of me”
The meeting at the theatre shows Henry explaining Eleanor's worries to Catherine – very thoughtful of him, isn't it? Pennie's post on Eleanor Tilney describes far better than I can Eleanor's artful attempt to get Henry and Catherine together, and the teasing friendship between the two siblings.
Groupread is maintained by Myretta with WebBBS 3.21.