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|Henry 's gothic pastiche
Written by Deborah Y
(4/16/2006 5:42 p.m.)
This week's section has what I consider to be the most truly hilarious passage in NA -- Henry's description of the horrors Catherine can expect once she's arrived at the Abbey ("formally conducted by Dorothy, the ancient housekeeper, up a different staircase, and along many gloomy passages, into an apartment never used since some cousin or kin died in it about twenty years before. . .") This passage makes clear how well-versed Henry (not to mention JA) is in the conventions of the novels he's satirizing -- clearly he wasn't lying when he told Catherine he had read them with pleasure. I also think this section shows off Henry's most charming quality: he's just SO funny.
Considering how often real-life women are attracted to men specifically because of this quality, I find it interesting that JA never created a hero like this again: of course, Darcy, Wentworth and Mr. Knightley are irresistible in their own ways, but none of them are capable of a sustained flight of satirical imagination like this. Henry's particular brand of quick-witted cleverness reminds me more of Elizabeth Bennet than of any other Austen character.
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