Was Captain Tilney the Darcy of Northanger Abbey?
Ok, stay with me here.
I was really excited to have the opportunity to write Captain’s Tilney’s story for my recent project with Christina Boyd’s Dangerousto Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes and Gentleman Rogues. He’s always intrigued me — strange, I know, but I guess I like a bad boy. Sure, I know his younger brother Henry is supposed to be the real hero of the story but if I’m being completely honest here, I would have to say that squeaky-clean Henry and sweet-but-silly Catherine don’t really fascinate me.
Jane Austen doesn’t give us much info about Captain Tilney — we know he’s handsome, he’s rich, and he likes the ladies, but that’s about it. When I looked at him a little more closely though, I realized he shared quite a few qualities with Mr. Darcy and it led me to wonder if Captain Tilney could be something of an antihero in Northanger Abbey.
So first similarity I noticed between Darcy and Captain Tilney was in their appearance:
Having heard the day before in Milsom Street that their elder brother, Captain Tilney, was expected almost every hour, she was at no loss for the name of a very fashionable–looking, handsome young man, whom she had never seen before, and who now evidently belonged to their party. She looked at him with great admiration, and even supposed it possible that some people might think him handsomer than his brother, though, in her eyes, his air was more assuming, and his countenance less prepossessing.
The gentlemen pronounced him to be a fine figure of a man, the ladies declared he was much handsomer than Mr. Bingley, and he was looked at with great admiration for about half the evening, till his manners gave a disgust which turned the tide of his popularity; for he was discovered to be proud, to be above his company, and above being pleased; and not all his large estate in Derbyshire could then save him from having a most forbidding, disagreeable countenance, and being unworthy to be compared with his friend.
And then of course there is the fact that neither one of them really liked to dance:
His taste and manners were beyond a doubt decidedly inferior; for, within her hearing, he not only protested against every thought of dancing himself, but even laughed openly at Henry for finding it possible
“You know how I detest it, unless I am particularly acquainted with my partner. At such an assembly as this it would be insupportable.”
They both had responsibilities to tend to which their fathers, either directly or indirectly, put on them.
The money is nothing, it is not an object, but employment is the thing. Even Frederick, my eldest son, you see, who will perhaps inherit as considerable a landed property as any private man in the county, has his profession. — Gen Tilney
"How many letters you must have occasion to write in the course of the year! Letters of business, too! How odious I should think them!"
"It is fortunate, then, that they fall to my lot instead of to yours."
“He is the best landlord, and the best master," said she, "that ever lived; not like the wild young men nowadays, who think of nothing but themselves. There is not one of his tenants or servants but what will give him a good name.
And most important of al: neither of them had ever really been in love before.
Frederick too, who always wore his heart so proudly, who found no woman good enough to be loved.
"If your master would marry, you might see more of him."
"Yes, sir; but I do not know when that will be. I do not know who is good enough for him.”
Of course, there was one fundamental and massive difference between Darcy and Tilney. Darcy was never a seducer; Captain Tilney on the other hand destroyed Isabella Thorpe’s reputation and engagement for no more reason than the fact that he could. But Darcy too admitted that he really didn’t think much of anyone else’s feelings— he did what he wanted regardless of how it would affect others.
I was given good principles, but left to follow them in pride and conceit… I was spoilt by my parents, who allowed, encouraged, almost taught me to be selfish and overbearing; to care for none beyond my own family circle; to think meanly of all the rest of the world; to wish at least to think meanly of their sense and worth compared with my own.
And Darcy admits freely that it was the love of a good woman that forever altered him and his bad behavior.
Such I might still have been but for you, dearest, loveliest Elizabeth! What do I not owe you! You taught me a lesson, hard indeed at first, but most advantageous. By you, I was properly humbled.
Jane Austen, of course, left Captain Tilney unredeemed, unchanged. But I think that like Darcy, he really just needed to fall madly in love with someone who made him wish to be better, to improve himself. And that’s where I came in, dreaming up the lady who could bring a rogue like Captain Tilney to heel! She’s not your usual regency era-girl but I thought she had just enough spunk to teach a guy like the Captain a thing or two about life and love.
Of course that’s just my take on things! I would love to hear what you think about it!
"Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues” excerpt about:
CAPTAIN FREDERICK TILNEY
The heroic army officer and handsome, au courant heir to the Northanger estate, Frederick Tilney regularly entertained the casual liaison but with never any earnest commitment. Upon first acquaintance, even Catherine Morland might had thought him more handsome than his brother.
“Then you do not suppose he ever really cared about her?”
“I am persuaded that he never did.”
“And only made believe to do so for mischief’s sake?”
—Catherine Morland to Henry Tilney, Northanger Abbey, Chapter XXVII.
FOR MISCHIEF’S SAKE
by Amy D’Orazio
“No man is offended by another man's admiration of the woman he loves; it is the woman only who can make it a torment.” —Henry Tilney to Catherine Morland, Northanger Abbey, Chapter IXX.
We arranged to fight our duel at that place where all the most elegant duels were fought: the secluded gardens near the Circus, accessed by the Gravel Walk. Naturally, the occasion was to be held at dawn. I had been in my chair, subject to the shavings and combings and clippings of old Morley until at last, I cried out, “’Tis enough man! I am not gone to my wedding day!”
Morley frowned at me, his dark eyes sharp with disapproval. “Your wedding day? That is not a day I shall likely live to see so I must keep at my art on these more common events.”
His meaning in emphasising common was not lost on me. He thought it a deplorable practice, young men having at each other to first blood or worse. But how else would a man’s honour be upheld? Was Wellington the object of such censure? Surely, he had spilt more blood than anyone, and what was a war but a duel commenced on a grand scale?
But Morley did not understand it; he never had, so to placate him, I simply settled myself back, mentioned something of a wayward curl in my hair, and let him have his way with me.
When he was satisfied, I gave myself a long look in the glass, ever fond of what I saw. The truth was often spake, in circles both low and high, and it was that none were as well favoured as Captain Tilney. Indeed, I congratulated myself for as much as I was ever well in looks, I was particularly so this fine morn. I daresay I did not fool myself when I thought that the impending danger to my person rendered it that much more agreeable.
I was soon off. My jaunty step and the tune I whistled earning me a scowl from Robard, my second, who met me at the gate. “A’nt nothing to be cheery about, man! A meeting with the grim reaper hi’self!”
“Perhaps so,” I owned. “Then again, one cannot live forever, and what better cause to die for than the pleasures of a woman!”
“Women aplenty in Bath,” he complained, “unattached to anyone, yet you favour the engaged. I shall never understand you.”
“Pray do quit the attempt.” I flicked my gaze in his direction for a moment. “Silence befits such occasions as these.”
We went on with only the sounds of Bath at dawn to accompany us. It was a strange hour. The night coming to a reluctant close while the day sent furtive tendrils of light across the houses and roads and fields. The occasional snoring drunk, having failed to obtain his bed, obscured our path. Here and there maids were darting about, procuring milk or eggs or whatever might be needed in their houses.
Robard had not ceased whinging all the way and was quite ruining my pleasure in the morning so in vexed tones, I bade him stop. “How many have you seen me through now? Yet never have you had such a foul humour as this!”
“Too many.” Robard spat on the ground near my feet. “Time and enough you settled your blood and began feathering your own nest ’stead of poaching on others.”
“Pah!” I scoffed at the very notion. “I promise you this, sir, on my mother’s own grave. I shall gladly prefer death over the slow demise of matrimony. There is not a woman alive worthy of being my beloved, and if I cannot love then I shall be ever watchful on behalf of gentlemen too beef-witted to avoid their own destruction.”
Robard did not comprehend me, but he was as near an idiot as anyone whose society I would willingly bear. He had leg-shackled himself at an early age, but the girl had gone and died in childbed, taking his heart with her. Ever the fool, he had recently succumbed to a betrothal with another enchantress in muslin but at least he did not proclaim he loved her. I shook my head at him even as he stood agape considering my words.
We had arrived by then, so I turned my attention away from Robard to behold my challenger, Mr. Peter Carver. I had been at school with him from an early age, lads of only eight or nine, and we became fast friends after taking a whipping together for some bit of mischief I cannot now recall. Back then, I much admired him for his ability to take his stripes with nary a shout, nary a tear, no matter how hard our headmaster whipped his young rump. I was far more tender in those days and scarcely outlasted the first lick.
Alas, Carver was not as unaffected now as he was then. He had awaited me by stamping about, muttering and cursing and shaking. From his rumpled coat and unshaven cheeks, I surmised that he had not seen his bed the night prior. Gad! Did he wish to be killed then? A night of spirits and venting the spleen did nothing for success on the field of honour. I offered him a bow, but he only sneered contempt at me in return. Robard and Carver’s second, a man called Langley, were far more civilised, bowing and nodding.
The surgeon was nervous, perspiring despite the morning chill. He stammered about, weakly insisting that an apology be offered. Naturally, I refused, which made my challenger scowl at me and mutter rude insults, defaming my character in an egregious and incorrect manner.
“Do you deny,” said Carver, “that you were the instrument of the ruination of an innocent soul?”
“I suppose that would depend on your idea of what ruination is,” I replied calmly.
His face became an alarming shade of purple, and he leant forward, attempting to give me a sharp poke in the chest. One step back was all that was needed to avoid his advance. He stumbled forward. “She was in your bed!”
“I cannot deny it.”
“She had not known a man before!”
“No.” I agreed. “That she had not.”
“You have stolen what was rightly mine,” he bellowed suddenly, his fetid morning breath, soured by drink, washing over my face. “You are the lowest of thieves, seducers, and rakes! I demand your sworn apology, else you must face the consequences.”
“Consequences it is then for I shall never apologise for my assistance to you.”
“Assistance?” he scoffed meanly. “Seems to me you assisted only one in this matter, and it was not me. The pistols then!”
The pistols were presented to us in their open case. Robard and my friend’s second both examined them carefully, and Robard observed they had been made by Manton. I admired the fine English walnut on the stocks, as well as the excellent balance, when I held one in my hand. Very fine indeed.
“Shall it be first blood, until one cannot stand, or death then?” I inquired in what I felt to be a very reasonable tone. I had no wish to kill the wretched fool—he was my friend after all—but it was to him to decide.
“Death!” he shot back immediately.
I stood regarding him with some impatience. He was my inferior with a pistol on the best of days. Certainly, on this day, lacking the advantages of rest, sobriety, and even temper, I would fell him immediately. I had no wish to do that but knew it as true.
“I should think first blood will answer.”
“Never,” he growled.
“Peter, you know you cannot win and I despise the notion of killing you.”
“It is on that point that we differ,” he said. “For I wish most ardently to kill you, and in as painful a way as possible.”
His arm jerked mightily, raising up; he seemed as surprised as I was to find himself pointing his gun at my chest. Robard and Langley gasped and lunged toward him. I held up my hand to forestall their intervention.
“That, sir, does not answer to the strictures of a gentlemanly duel,” I said softly. “To shoot me in that way is only murder. Put the gun down until the proper signal is given.”
Carver glared at me but did not do as I bid. “I knew you admired her.”
“She is a vastly handsome girl.”
“I should have strung you up by the ballocks when I saw you looking at her!”
“No man can be offended by another man’s admiration of the woman he loves,” I said in sedate tones. “It is only the woman who can make it a torment. See here old friend; it is not I who has offended you but she, the one who claimed to love you.”
“You too claimed to be my friend—since we were in short pants!”
“And I am your friend still.”
“No friend of mine would do such a thing.”
“I think once you know why I did it, you will thank me.”
His laugh, a sad, deranged cackle, filled the air. “Thank you? Never.”
“Not even if I saved you from your own grievous error?”
He stared at me, dumbfounded.
“No matter how I admired her, a simple refusal would have put me off. She did not refuse, Peter.”
“She said you forced her.”
“I have never forced a woman, nor would I. Not once did she say no. Not once did she indicate reluctance.”
Slowly, inch by inch, the gun moved down by his side.
“You should not have attempted to seduce her,” he said. “Women are weak creatures! They lack the fortitude to—”
My laughter shocked us both. “A lady is not brawny, that is true. They cannot run so fast nor walk so far as a man, nor can they lift or throw or heave; but, they have fortitude enough to break us, my man. That they surely do.”
He did not argue; indeed, he could not. I saw by his looks that he attempted to summon his rage but could not. Confusion and sorrow would overcome whatever shards of ire remained in him.
“I did not seduce her for my benefit,” I told him. “I shall never deny I had my pleasure in her—she is, indeed, a charming little piece and I regret you do not know it for yourself—but there are women in abundance in Bath and London and nearly everywhere else I go. I am a handsome fellow with a good figure and an ample fortune—I do not require your woman or anyone else’s, I assure you.”
I turned then, motioning to Robard who looked puzzled. He held the gun case, and I motioned him towards me. I opened the case and replaced my pistol within; then, I turned back to my friend, spreading my arms wide and presenting him with an easy shot at my chest.
“Shoot me if you like,” I declared. “But if you would rather know the favour I have done you, come let us go have some breakfast, and I shall tell you a little tale.”
AMY D’ORAZIO is a former scientist and current stay-at-home mom who is addicted to Austen and Starbucks in equal measure. While she adores Mr. Darcy, she is married to Mr. Bingley and their Pemberley is in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
She has two daughters devoted to sports with long practices and began writing stories as a way to pass the time spent at their various gyms and studios. She firmly believes that all stories should have long looks, stolen kisses, and happily-ever-afters. Like her favorite heroine, she dearly loves a laugh and considers herself an excellent walker. She is the author of The Best Part of Love and the soon-to-be released A Short Period of Exquisite Felicity.
ABOUT DANGEROUS TO KNOW: JANES AUSTEN’S RAKES & GENTLEMEN ROGUES
“One has all the goodness, and the other all the appearance of it.” —Jane Austen
Jane Austen’s masterpieces are littered with unsuitable gentlemen—Willoughby, Wickham, Churchill, Crawford, Tilney, Elliot, et al.—adding color and depth to her plots but often barely sketched. Have you never wondered about the pasts of her rakes, rattles, and gentlemen rogues? Surely, there's more than one side to their stories.
It is a universal truth, we are captivated by smoldering looks, daring charms ... a happy-go-lucky, cool confidence. All the while, our loyal confidants are shouting on deaf ears: “He is a cad—a brute—all wrong!” But is that not how tender hearts are broken...by loving the undeserving? How did they become the men Jane Austen created? In this romance anthology, eleven Austenesque authors expose the histories of Austen’s anti-heroes.
Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues is a titillating collection of Georgian era short stories—a backstory or parallel tale off-stage of canon—whilst remaining steadfast to the characters we recognize in Austen’s great works.
What say you? Everyone may be attracted to a bad boy…even temporarily...but heaven help us if we marry one.
Enter Rafflecopter to win fifteen books from the anthology authors! One winner. Fifteen books! Contest ends midnight, December 30, 2017. One “Grand Prize #1 winner” will be announced January 2, 2018.
Grand Prize #2
Follow our “Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s #RakesAndGentlemenRogues” Blog Tour and comment on each stop to be eligible for #RakesAndGentlemenRogues Pleasures prize pack: ‘Pride & Prejudice’ Print, autographed by Colin Firth & Jennifer Ehle; Bingley’s Teas (Willoughby & The Colonel); Jane Austen playing cards; set of 6 Austen postcards; and ‘The Compleat Housewife’ notecards set. (All guest comments will be entered in drawing to win. Comment at each site to increase your odds.) Contest ends midnight, December 30, 2017. One “Grand Prize #2 winner” will be announced January 2, 2018.
THE #RakesAndGentlemenRogues BLOG TOUR
💗Monday, November 6: REVIEW: Margie's Must Reads, https://margiesmustreads.com
💗Thursday, November 9: REVIEW, Obsessed with Mr. Darcy, https://obsessedwithmrdarcy.wordpress.com
💗Monday, November 13: REVIEW, Austenesque Reviews, http://austenesquereviews.com
💗Tuesday, November 14: REVIEW, Olga of ROSIE AMBER team, http://www.authortranslatorolga.com/
💗Wednesday, November 15: (release day) REVIEW, Just Jane 1813, http://justjane1813.com
💗Thursday, November 16: REVIEW, Diary of an Eccentric, https://diaryofaneccentric.wordpress.com
🎩Monday, November 20: FEATURE w/Katie Oliver (George Wickham), From Pemberley to Milton, https://frompemberleytomilton.wordpress.com
🎩Wednesday, November 22: FEATURE w/Joana Starnes (Willoughby), Babblings of a Bookworm, http://babblingsofabookworm.blogspot.com
🎩Friday, November 24: FEATURE w/Sophia Rose, (General Tilney), Herding Cats & Burning Soup, http://www.herdingcats-burningsoup.com
🎩Monday, November 27: FEATURE w/Amy D'Orazio (Captain Tilney), My Jane Austen Book Club, http://thesecretunderstandingofthehearts.blogspot.com
🎩Wednesday, November 29: FEATURE w/Brooke West (Henry Crawford), VVB32 Reads, https://vvb32reads.blogspot.com
🎩Thursday, November 30: FEATURE w/Lona Manning (Tom Bertram), Lit 4 Ladies, http://lit4ladies.com
💗Friday, December 1: REVIEW, Lit 4 Ladies, http://lit4ladies.com
🎩Monday, December 4: FEATURE w/Beau North (Colonel Fitzwilliam), Obsessed with Mr. Darcy, https://obsessedwithmrdarcy.wordpress.com
🎩Thursday, December 7: FEATURE w/J. Marie Croft (John Thorpe), Harry Rodell blog/ROSIE AMBER team, https://harryrodell.wordpress.com/author/rodellh
💗Friday, December 8: REVIEW, From Pemberley to Milton, https://frompemberleytomilton.wordpress.com
🎩Monday, December 11: FEATURE w/Jenetta James Hannah McSorley (William Elliot), Austenesque Reviews, http://austenesquereviews.com
🎩Thursday, December 14: FEATURE w/Karen M Cox (Frank Churchill), Darcyholic Diversions, http://darcyholic.blogspot.com
🎩Monday, December 17: FEATURE w/Christina Morland (Sir Walter Elliot), Of Pens & Pages, http://www.ofpensandpages.com