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|GR: Some rambling thoughts
Written by Rae
(4/21/2003 6:49 a.m.)
I think here is a real darkness at the heart of the book, and it is incredibly modern in its psychological insights. The Tilneys are an amazing portrayal of what happens in such a family, with such a father. And John Thorpe is doing what we would now name as sexually harrassing Catherine. Underlying it all is the awareness of how vulnerable women were - even silly Isabella. She is lucky she flirted only with Frederick Tilney in Bath, and not with Willoughby or Mr Elliot.
The only thing I could remember about Henry was the chat about muslins - and you can imagine how attractive that was to someone whose romantic ideal for a quarter of a century has been Captain Wentworth!!! However, I now think he is one of the most interesting of the JA men. I did wonder whether, if we met him in a modern film, with his urbanity and wit, his ability to chat about dresses and his good looks, we would not all jump to the conclusion that he was gay! I like the way he is so relaxed about Frederick's behaviour; he would never do it himself, but he knows his brother and is not going get judgemental about him. And when he defies his father he is a real hero; he will accommodate to his father's petty tyrannies, but not to this.
I really liked the way JA makes use of some obvious devices at the end - Eleanor's suitor inheriting unexpectedly etc - to save her from having to write a more detailed ending. The work of the novel is done by then and so she can take a shortcut to bring it to a close. For a book which has played around with the idea of the novel, this seems appropriate.
So, thank you for getting me to read it. I had written it off, after reading it as a teen, as 'the one that's a Gothic parody' and did not think it was as deep or as well characterised as the others!! Mea culpa, how wrong could I be? I think it is a gem of a novel. It has sparked off all sorts of thoughts about the other novels, but I shall take them to Austenuations when I get a moment.
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