Prof. Butler on Isabella and Henry
Posted by Carolyn B on January 13, 1998 at 23:20:19:
Since certain masochistic participants in this discussion expressed an interest in reading more of Butler's prose:
"Though the Thorpes are seldom remembered affectionately among the vintage Austen characters, the novel could hardly function without at least Isabella. She is an anti-heroine who provides far more incident, intrigue and thick, anthropological description than the heroine can. Her restlessness and ear for news demonstrate how Bath itself works and, since we endlessly see and hear her, seem to draw us in. But this puts the reader on the spot; if Isabella is as vulgar as she seems, we ought not, strictly speaking, to be keeping her company, still less parading with her along the Crescent or chasing unknown young men down Milsom Street. Isabella implicates the reader in improper, reckless or vulgar actions, and we collude in her knowingness.
(Alas! I am ashamed of myself!!)
. . . [huge snip of 6 paragraphs]
"Within the novel, Isabella's game is readable only by Henry; for if she is temporarily Mistress of Ceremonies, he is always the Master of Games. His scenes with Catherine are often themselves games. But at their sudden first scene together in the third chapter, he could almost be the magician Comus, luring her to play....."
Okay, who's this Comus dude? (Or is he another allegorical figure??)
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