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|Thorpe vs. Tilney
Written by JoAnn
(3/11/2009 5:15 p.m.)
Previously, we've seen how Thorpe speaks to his mother and sisters, and have no reason to believe that it is anything other than what is expressed - rudeness, disdain, and disrespect.
Now, in Chapter 14, we hear Henry saying things potentially interpretable in the same way about his sister: The fears of the sister have added to the weakness of the woman; but she is by no means a simpleton in general.” The conversation then goes on with more statements about women in general:
I think very highly of the understanding of all the women in the world — especially of those — whoever they may be — with whom I happen to be in company.
...no one can think more highly of the understanding of women than I do. In my opinion, nature has given them so much that they never find it necessary to use more than half.
On the surface, these sure seem mysogynistic enough to have come from Thorpe! How are these comments any different from what we've heard from him? I think there are a couple of things that let us know that we can allow this from Henry and not take it too seriously. For one, he immediately contradicts himself by commenting on his sister's being "by no means a simpleton in general", and his sister immediately defends him earnestly - she clearly feels respected by him. Can't see either of those things ever happening in the Thorpe family. In addition, we've seen enough of Henry's sense of humor to know that these statements probably were delivered with a tell-tale twinkle in the eye.
Happily, Catherine is astute enough to be able to make this judgment, just as she eventually has come to realize that Thorpe is a lout. We learn that, "It was no effort to Catherine to believe that Henry Tilney could never be wrong.
I'm liking where this is going! (especially when this section also includes Henry's admission that he would be happy to make Catherine better acquainted with his odd ways!)
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