Quick Index Board Index Home FAQ Site Map
|GR - Captain Tilney Merits a Mention
Written by Siobhan
(4/7/2003 10:00 a.m.)
Chapter 9 gives us a brief, biased look into the Tilney family. Mrs. Allan met with Mrs. Hughes, Miss Tilney and Mr. Tilney while out walking. In Mrs. Allan's usual way, however, all she remembers has to do with clothes and appearance. Thus we know what Miss Tilney was wearing; we know how much her mother was given to buy clothes with upon her marriage; we only know that Mrs. Tilney is dead because - eventually - Mrs. Allan recalls some pearls that Miss Tilney got from her mother after she died. When Catherine asks if Mr. Tilney is the only son, can we be sure that Mrs. Allan is correct when she says: "I cannot be positive about that, my dear; I have some idea he is; but, however, he is a very fine man."? I rather think that the poor other son was not connected with fine clothes during the course of the conversation and so Mrs. Allan does not remember him at all!
It is not until Chapter 14, however, that our distrust in Mrs. Allan's recollection is proved valid. During the walk Catherine takes with Miss Tilney and her attractive brother, we are finally made aware of the existence of Miss Tilney's other brother, the Captain Frederick Tilney. The way in which he is introduced to us is rather entertaining. As Henry is explaining how Catherine and Eleanor have misunderstood each other, he paints this picture for us: … the streets of London flowing with blood, a detachment of the 12th Light Dragoons, (the hopes of the nation,) called up from Northampton to quell the insurgents, and the gallant Capt. Frederick Tilney, in the moment of charging at the head of his troop, knocked off his horse by a brickbat from an upper window.… The fears of the sister have added…
So Miss Tilney does have another brother! In this introduction we know that he is a Captain of the Light Dragoons from Northampton and that is about it. Henry's little story is completely in jest, so I think we can't put much stock in his terms "gallant", "the hopes of the nation" or even in Eleanor really being frightened for his safety. Perhaps I shall have to ask at L&T, but: (1)Does anyone know what a brickbat is? I doubt its being chosen as Freddie's downfall could have any special significance, but since I don't know what it is, I'm not really sure. (2) Does the specific reference to the 12th Light Dragoons warrant special attention? Were they known for anything in particular? Did JA know a captain in the 12th Light Dragoons and what did she think of him?
Regardless of the details of the scene, why does Henry think to include Captain Frederick in his little made-up scenario in the first place? I suppose that his existence has been known to Catherine for some time. They have had some opportunity to talk and I am confident that the basic explanations have been inquired after and supplied: all the family details of parents' names and situations and siblings, their ages and occupations and whereabouts. It would be natural to have communicated all this already. I do have an idea as to why Henry should be thinking of his brother at this moment, but it will have to wait until we read some more.
Northanger Abbey is maintained by Cheryl and Linda with WebBBS 3.21.