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Northanger Abbey

Jane Austen

Henry Tilney

Characters Henry Tilney

Critics argue over Henry's role in the novel. Some critics criticize Henry for patronizing Catherine, for telling her how to see the world and mocking her naiveté. This criticism is partially accurate. Henry is often amused by Catherine's naïve nature, and playfully guides her to a better understanding, as can be seen during their walk around Beechen Cliff and on the ride to Northanger Abbey. But his behavior, especially when compared to that of the boorish John Thorpe, is always gentle and caring. He adores his sister, Eleanor, and loves his father, although he often disagrees with him. Though less than ten years older than Catherine, Henry is far more perceptive than she. He is probably the most perceptive figure in the novel. Henry has read hundreds of books and, as a clergyman, hundreds of people, and this has given him an understanding of human interaction far superior to that of his friends and relatives.