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|This bothered me too!
Written by Tanya Virginia
(4/22/2003 6:27 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, GR: Mrs. Tilney's bedroom, penned by Kristen G.
]Something that has always bothered me about NA ~ why doesn't Gen. Tilney want Eleanor to show Catherine Mrs. Tilney's bedroom? The last time, when she is called away to write a letter, it is understandable ~ he is the sort who would suddenly decide that Eleanor ought to write his letter now! But what about the first time, when he seems to want to show Catherine anything but the bedroom? Is it because there is nothing special there, and the General is trying to show off his wealth? But Henry says it is the most comfortable room, so I would think that Gen. Tilney would head straight for it on his tour of the house.
]Have I missed something?
I can think of three reasons:
1) He loved his wife and doesn’t want to desecrate her memory.
2) Other rooms, except Mrs. Tilney’s room in that wing of the Abbey, are in ruin or neglect. He wants to impress her so he avoids this wing.
3) This wing is well kept but not impressive enough for his guest’s notice.
At first I thought If he was a normal, feeling person I would say it was because he loved his wife too much to have anyone disturb her memory. After all he makes sure the maids keep it clean as if Mrs. Tilney still lived there:
"She beheld what fixed her to the spot and agitated every feature. She saw a large, well-proportioned apartment, an handsome dimity bed, arranged as unoccupied with an housemaid's care, a bright Bath stove, mahogany wardrobes, and neatly painted chairs, on which the warm beams of a western sun gaily poured through two sash windows! Catherine had expected to have her feelings worked, and worked they were. Astonishment and doubt first seized them; and a shortly succeeding ray of common sense added some bitter emotions of shame. She could not be mistaken as to the room; but how grossly mistaken in everything else!--in Miss Tilney's meaning, in her own calculation! This apartment, to which she had given a date so ancient, a position so awful, proved to be one end of what the general's father had built. There were two other doors in the chamber, leading probably into dressing-closets; but she had no inclination to open either. Would the veil in which Mrs. Tilney had last walked, or the volume in which she had last read, remain to tell what nothing else was allowed to whisper? No: whatever might have been the general's crimes, he had certainly too much wit to let them sue for detection." (italics and boldface mine)
(As an aside-- This is so typical of Catherine. Her idea of it being in ruins with evidence everywhere of the General's neglect and despise disappoint, so she fabricates an even more duplicitous reason for finding the opposite: It is obvious to her he only keeps the room neatly kept so others will “believe” he did actually respect and love his wife. What more proof does one need of General Tilney’s evil, twisted, and Machiavellian mind? (maniacal laugh and head roll follow--HaaaaahaaHaaaahaha....) Oh, Cathy… Snap out of it!
But he's not an obviously feeling person?
So, your point went through my mind as a possibility, as well, when I read the passages previous to this. He only wants to show Catherine the most impressive apartments, so he skips that wing. But doesn’t he show her the “offices” behind the stables. Doesn’t he show her, I vaguely recall, pantries, etc…? (where she sees footmen in dishabille) Those can’t be too impressive.
As to the forbidden wing being in neglect as a reason, I always had an idea that maybe the Tilney’s were in financial trouble, and that’s why they were after the “affluent” Cathy to resolve their problems. This would mean that the General could not afford the upkeep of that part of the house or the improvements necessary to make it suitable to be viewed by guests. So, for a while, I thought this was the reason the wing could not be viewed. But, having finished the novel, I find that the General’s finances not being in question and the rest of the house, including Mrs. Tilney’s room, being in excellent condition as proof against that. That’s why I’m leaning more towards the first reason:
IMO he did love his wife, in his own way, and that is his reason for not showing Catherine the room. Real people are a mixture of flaws and virtues; and, I think Jane, knowing this, always crafts complex, richly textured characters. The General is a mercenary, superficial, domineering, control freak, but that doesn’t mean these character flaws kept him from caring for his wife.
Just my humble opinion,
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