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Thanks! -- Arnie Perlstein, now living in "Portlandia"!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Henry Tilney & Catherine Morland & The Royal Houses of Spain AND England: How do ya like THEM apples?




Anielka: "Yes, implying or accidentally suggesting that a man had ten children rather than the three legitimately know children, whether accidental or deliberate, would certainly 'scandalise' and hence be funny, Diana  and Ellen."

It was Diane, not Diana, who made that excellent initial catch, which opened the door to my extrapolation.


Anielka: “But I very much like Arnie's suggestion that Catherine is illegitimate and that the
same "three/ten" children  formula is repeated. Good catch! (Genuine sentiment, no
flattery intended).”

Anielka, I gladly accept your compliment, and, as you will see, below, I also heartily approve of your further highly excellent extrapolation of Thorpes = Spanish royal family of Ferdinand & Isabella. And…I will now reward you, as you rewarded me, with a further extrapolation which supports both of our extrapolations, and pulls  it all tightly together!

To begin….I had originally meant to add in my original reply to Diane, that the passages about  large numbers of children in JA’s letter and in NA were both also resonant with still another, famous passage in another JA novel, which explicitly hints at a large number of illegitimate children:

“Emma found that she must wait; and now it required little effort. She asked no more questions therefore, merely employed her own fancy, and that soon pointed out to her the probability of its being some money concern—something just come to light, of a disagreeable nature in the circumstances of the family,—something which the late event at Richmond had brought forward. Her fancy was very active. HALF A DOZEN NATURAL CHILDREN, perhaps—and poor Frank cut off!—This, though very undesirable, would be no matter of agony to her. It inspired little more than an animating curiosity.”

Of course, this is the suspicion that pops into Emma’s anxious mind while she is waiting to be told the dreadful secret by Mrs. Weston—then Emma  finds out the actual (manufactured) secret (cover story), which is that Jane and Frank had long been engaged.

I was also going to add, without any awareness of Anielka’s latest catch, something I’ve believed  for quite some time, i.e., that Emma’s seemingly absurd Gothic imagining of Mr. Churchill as serial sower of wild oats was actually Emma’s almost guessing the Gothic truth about her own father, Mr. Henry Woodhouse—which is that he is a representation of Henry VIII, and that his “half dozen natural children” are actually there right under Emma’s nose in the thick of the action of the novel: i.e., the two Knightley brothers, Jane, Frank, Mr. Elton and Harriet! Hence the old fool’s attempts, through his tertiary syphilitic haze, to recall his sexual salad days via the filthy verbiage of Garrick’s Riddle.

Plus, as you’ll recall, in May 2011….
….I wrote the following when you first posted your initial thoughts about Henry & Catherine as having royal antecedents:

“Henry Tilney & Catherine Morland as Representations of  Elizabethan Royals:  I also spoke (briefly) at the [2010 JASNA] AGM about Henry and Catherine as representations of Henry VIII and Catherine,--again, giving credit to an earlier originator of that interpretation---and here are the exact words I spoke in Portland, which tie in directly with the Bluebeard theme I argued for, as mentioned above: "From English history, Terry Robinson ["A mere skeleton of history’: Reading Relics in JA’s Northanger Abbey.” European Romantic Review, 17:2 (Apr 2006) 215-227] draws an intriguing parallel between our Henry and Catherine and another even more famous Henry and Catherine—of course, Henry VIII and his Catherines! Henry Tudor dissolved monasteries like Northanger Abbey, and was the prototypical husband from hell. Austen's /The History of England/ shows she knew all about him. She doesn’t mention Henry’s sixth wife, Katherine Parr, who died after childbirth, but Austen was aware that Henry was unique--a literal and metaphorical Bluebeard. As Austen’s nephew noted, she called Henry an “embodied Blue Beard”. “Embodied” as in women’s  bodies?"  END QUOTE

So Terry Robinson, I and then you had all glimpsed, via different clues, a Spanish royal connection in NA. But now your firstrate extrapolation of that insight down to the level of the Thorpe children is really the crowning touch, which makes it, as you say, obvious—because what would be the odds of all those children’s names, in correct  birth order, arising by accident?  Zero.

But I’ve another gem to add to that crown of allusion. It has been my sense that Catherine was actually a Tilney for the past 4 years, based partly on my gut feeling—the way she seems to almost be coming home to the Abbey, as a place she remembers, rather than seeing it for the first time—and partly on what I noticed in 2009 in The Mysteries of Udolpho, when I first delved into its shadowy subtext.  I.e., I found it strongly hinted at in Radcliffe’s tale that Emily was actually the natural daughter of the mystery mother with the veil, etc! So it was only a short leap from that intuition, to seeing Catherine as obsessed with Mrs. Tilney as Catherine’s search to find her own lost mother. I.e., on some level, Catherine dimly remembered that she was not born a Morland, and like many adopted children, she yearned to find her birth parents.

And now, armed with your catch, I believe that Wikipedia has given me the information that shows that you are correct, Anielka, about Catherine Morland being a Thorpe, but that I am also correct that Catherine is a Tilney, too! Read this:

“Catherine was quite short in stature with long red hair, wide blue eyes, a round face, and a fair complexion. She was descended, on her maternal side, from the English royal house; her great-grandmother Catherine of Lancaster, after whom she was named, and her greatgreatgrandmother Philippa of Lancaster were both daughters of John of Gaunt and granddaughters of Edward III of England. Consequently she was third cousin of her father-in-law, Henry VII of England, and fourth cousin of her mother-in-law Elizabeth of York.”

So…if the Thorpes represent the Spanish royal house, and the Tilneys the English royal house, then this would explain why they are at odds throughout the novel, and it would also show that  we are both correct in our sense of Catherine Morland’s biological ancestry!

But I’m not quite  done….as I was searching to find the passage in Emma about the half dozen natural children, the search function brought me, of all places, to the long speech about apples by Miss Bates at the end of  the spectacle  rivets scene in Chapter 27, which  I now read with new eyes. I’ve known since 2005 (and I know you’ve also long recognized it, Anielka) that “apples” in Emma stand for something other than literal fruit of a tree. I.e., I’ve seen them as representing “children”, especially of the natural variety—hence the joke on “baking” them in “ovens” three times (i.e., three trimesters). So, when you read the following in light of the now-established motif of “half a dozen” as hinting at illegitimate children, your mind will be as blown as mine just was at Miss Bates’s virtuosic improvisations on the theme of repeated seasonal gifts of “apples” from Donwell Abbey, which fits perfectly with the notion of natural children being scattered around Highbury by Mr. Woodhouse on an annual basis:

“And when I brought out the baked APPLES from the closet, and hoped OUR FRIENDS WOULD BE SO VERY OBLIGING AS TO TAKE SOME, 'Oh!' said he directly, 'there is nothing in the way of fruit half so good, and these are the finest-looking HOME-BAKED APPLES I ever saw in my life.' That, you know, was so very.... And I am sure, by his manner, it was no compliment. Indeed they are very delightful APPLES, and Mrs. Wallis does them full justice—only we do not have them baked more than twice, and Mr. Woodhouse made us promise to have them done THREE TIMES—but Miss Woodhouse will be so good as not to mention it. The APPLES themselves are the very finest sort for baking, beyond a doubt; all from Donwell—some of Mr. Knightley's most liberal supply. He sends us a sack every year; and certainly there never was such a keeping APPLE anywhere as one of his trees—I believe there is two of them. My mother says the orchard was always FAMOUS IN HER YOUNGER DAYS. But I was really quite shocked the other day—for Mr. Knightley called one morning, and Jane was eating these APPLES, and we talked about them and said how much she enjoyed them, and he asked whether we were not got to the end of our stock. 'I am sure you must be,' said he, 'and I will send you another supply; for I have a great many more than I can ever use. William Larkins let me keep a larger quantity than usual this year. I will send you some more, before they get good for nothing.' So I begged he would not—for really as to ours being gone, I could not absolutely say that we had a great many left—IT WAS BUT HALF A DOZEN INDEED; but they should be all kept for Jane; and I could not at all bear that he should be sending us more, so liberal as he had been already; and Jane said the same. And when he was gone, she almost quarrelled with me—No, I should not say quarrelled, for we never had a quarrel in our lives; but she was quite distressed that I had owned the APPLES were so nearly gone; she wished I had made him believe we had a great many left. Oh, said I, my dear, I did say as much as I could. However, the very same evening William Larkins came over with a large basket of APPLES, THE SAME SORT OF APPLES, a bushel at least, and I was very much obliged, and went down and spoke to William Larkins and said every thing, as you may suppose. William Larkins is such an old acquaintance! I am always glad to see him. But, however, I found afterwards from Patty, that William said it was ALL THE  APPLES OF THAT SORT HIS MASTER HAD; he had brought them all—and now his master had not one left to bake or boil. William did not seem to mind it himself, he was so pleased to think his master had sold so many; for William, you know, thinks more of his master's profit than any thing; but MRS. HODGES, he said, WAS QUITE DISPLEASED AT THEIR BEING ALL SENT AWAY. SHE COULD NOT BEAR that her master should not be able to have another APPLE-tart this spring. He told Patty this, but bid her not mind it, and be sure not to say any thing to us about it, for Mrs. Hodges would be cross sometimes, and as long as so many sacks were sold, it did not signify who ate the remainder. And so Patty told me, and I was excessively shocked indeed! I would not have Mr. Knightley know any thing about it for the world! He would be so very.... I wanted to keep it from Jane's knowledge; but, unluckily, I HAD MENTIONED IT BEFORE I WAS AWARE."

Indeed they tried to keep it  from “Jane” –but  that’s another story entirely, about the Austen family and ITS secrets!

ADDED AT Noon August 3, 2014:

"Thus wisely fortifying her mind, as she proceeded upstairs, she was enabled, especially on perceiving that Miss Tilney slept only TWO DOORS from her, to enter her room with a tolerably stout heart; and her spirits were immediately assisted by the cheerful blaze of a wood fire."

The above is the only passage in all of JA's writing in which we read about "two doors" --- so is it just a coincidence that this singular reference to "two doors" occurs in a scene describing the floor plan of an Abbey which of course would have been one of those confiscated from the Catholic Church by Henry TUDOR aka Henry VIII?

Of course not! And it fits particularly well with the idea of the House of Tilney as a veiled representation of the House of the Tudors.

And let us not also forget that there were historical Tilneys serving royal Tudors, as I sketched out three years ago in this post:


Here is the most relevant excerpt from that earlier post of mine:

"First I woke up today speculating that there might be a connection between the real life Elizabeth Tilney who was the daughter of Sir Frederick Tilney and the granddaughter of Isabel Thorp, and the very famous Edmund Tilney, Queen Elizabeth's Master of the Revels, who was
portrayed by Simon Callow in Shakespeare in Love.
Here is Wikipedia detailing how the famous Edmund Tilney was the only son of Elizabeth Tilney's cousin:
"Edmund Tilney was the only son of Philip Tilney (d.1541), Usher of the Privy Chamber to King Henry VIII, and Malyn Chambre. Edmund Tilney's father, Philip, was a younger son of Sir Philip Tilney of Shelley (d.1533), treasurer during the Scottish wars under the command of the Duke
of Norfolk. Norfolk's first wife was Sir Philip Tilney's cousin, Elizabeth Tilney; after Elizabeth died in 1547, Norfolk married Sir Philip Tilney's sister, Agnes, later Dowager Duchess of Norfolk."
Why should a Janeite care about these connections? Because the real life Edmund Tilney was not only QE1's Master of the Revels, he was also the author of A Brief And Pleasaunt Discourse Of Duties in Mariage, a lively male/female verbal joust about the rights of women in marriage, and their supposed duty of obedience. As I explained in my talk at the JASNA AGM in November, 2010, there is an unmistakable allusion to Edmund Tilney's famous Discourse in the witty and profound banter between Henry Tilney and Catherine Morland riffing on the metaphor between dance and marriage." END QUOTE FROM MY 2011 POST

Did you notice at the beginning there the direct Elizabethan family connection between Tilneys and Thorps? That only further pulls JA's virtuosic veiled allusion even more tightly together.

So putting all of that together with all of what I and Anielka have recently brought forward, maybe when Catherine "meditated, by turns, on broken promises and broken arches, phaetons and false hangings, Tilneys and trap-doors", JA meant for us to also, upon rereading after having caught the pun on Tudors/two doors, think of "Tilneys and Tudors"!

I, for one, am ready to walk through those two doors of interpretation!

Cheers, ARNIE
@JaneAustenCode onTwitter

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