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|GR: Understanding General Tilney
Written by Linda Fern
(4/22/2003 9:36 a.m.)
Because I was married to a General Tilney for over two decades, I feel that I am an expert in understanding his character. But first, please be so kind as to go to my original post, linked below, and read it before continuing.
Now that you have read it, I would like to add a few more comments. I am sorry that I only had time to read a few of your posts in this GR, so thank goodness for the Archives. You are all very perceptive Ladies and Gentlemen.
I am most indebted to Captain Everett for his revealing General Edward Mathew as a model for General Tilney. This verifies my theory that JA used a lot of "human nature" in her characters that she observed around her, especially in view of the fact that there was no way IMO she could have "accidentally" invented all those traits portrayed in GT. It had to be because she witnessed such a person.
Captain Everett's posted revelation led me to google General Mathew where I found another very scholarly paper on GT. With all due respect, what is so amazing is that all those dear people had lots to say (I read 22 pages) about the whys and wherefores, but none (so far) have seen him as I do. I have seen his exact behavior in my GT. As a matter of fact, I have two aunts who have a touch of OCD and have exhibited some of those same symptoms which proves to me, in contradiction of that scholarly 22 page report, that such behavior is not confined to "generals" whose vocation nurtured such behavior as the writer claims. A comparison to Jane's "Lady Susan" may be in order to dispel or dilute such theories.
Some of the Ladies below stated that they even "liked" the General. Yes, they can be "likable" when they so desire. I can still care about my General though we have been separated these last 10 years. What this means is you can love them but the Ladies need to realize that it is not necessary to be a doormat for these people. I did not know that. I say all this because I believe JA is trying to tell us something – was in fact trying to tell the Ladies of her time something which was totally different from what those "conduct" books were saying. JA brought such behavior out into the light of day and exposed it. Similarly, in Radcliffe's "Udolpho" the father admonished his daugther not to follow her first impressions but to use her head in the matters of the heart. I think JA picked up that theme, and, unfortunately, that advice is not too widely disseminated these days. But that's another story.
GT has been called a lot of things but his behavior exhibits to me the symptoms of OCD, manic depression, and some hysteria. I am acutely aware of such behavior and it does show up in other people in a more or lesser degree. I can identify it at a hundred paces. I do hope that this sheds some light on the subject. This has been a lovely GR. Thank you Cheryl.
Love from Linda
|My original post on General Tilney|
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