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Did Jane Austen intend Henry Tilney to be a traditional hero? Did she intend General Tilney to be a traditional villain?

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Introduction

Did Jane Austen intend Henry Tilney to be a traditional hero? Did she intend General Tilney to be a traditional villain? A traditional Gothic novel usually requires the roles of a hero and a villain. Northanger Abbey is Gothic in genre, but Jane Austen is also mocking the Gothic genre. It is possible that she doesn't want a typical hero or villain. The dictionary defines a villain as: "A person guilty or capable of great wickedness, scoundrel; character in a play whose evil actions or motives are important in the plot." General Tilney's wife died of an illness prior to the start of the novel, leaving the General a widower. General Tilney is a father of three, he has two sons and a daughter. It is the eldest son, Frederick, who is most like the General. The other two children, Henry and Eleanor, are not really like their father at all. Frederick and the General both have naval status, they are alike in career pattern. They are also alike in personality. General Tilney is extremely self important, which means he has a high opinion of himself or is pompous. ...read more.

Middle

however, that an opportunity might ere long occur of selecting one- though not for himself", suggesting that he hoped Catherine and Henry might get married and that she might provide it. He is shown to be selfish by his desire for his children to make good marriages for his own ends, regardless of their own happiness. Looking at the negative personality traits above that are usually needed to make somebody a villain and the negative personality traits that the General possesses, it is easily seen that General Tilney is not a villain. General Tilney is only a villain in the eyes of Catherine who becomes convinced that the General had killed his wife who, in reality, had died of a serious illness. General Tilney doesn't seriously affect the plot, as Catherine and Henry get together anyway, which a villain would. Although General Tilney is not an endearing character and is selfish, self important, greedy, shallow and unkind, he is not evil and is not a villain. The dictionary defines a hero as "A man admired for achievements and noble qualities. ...read more.

Conclusion

However it does contradict itself in that he is unusual, for example he says "I have no patience with such of my sex as disdain to let themselves sometimes down to the comprehension of yours." This means that he has no patience for men who don't understand women, which would have been unusual at the time. He is shown as ordinary, when he visited Catherine in Fullerton, he sat, "most civilly answering all Mrs Morland's common remarks about the weather and roads." But heroes are extraordinary and that, Henry is not. Henry is not a hero, he is too odd and domesticated to be a conventional hero. For example, Henry says to Catherine when he knows that she will be visiting him at Woodston, "I must go and prepare a meal for you to be sure." This shows that he is domesticated, as most men in those times would not have thought about the cooking. But, Henry is the closest thing to a hero in the novel. Henry could, however, be mistaken for a hero because of his romantic side and his returning to Catherine. Cerys Hodson 30/04/07 Northanger Abbey, Essay 2 ...read more.

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