Thursday, 2 September 2010

Character Connection: Henry Crawford

This is a wonderful meme hosted by Jen at The Introverted Reader. Every week, you share one literary character that you love with your fellow bloggers. You talk about the character, say why you love them and hope that everyone else will love them too.;) Be sure to post the book’s title and author, and be very careful not to give away spoilers while talking about how much you love your characters.

Henry Crawford is a character in Jane Austen’s novel Mansfield Park. Henry is a rich gentleman from London, very elegant, extravagant and a bit snobbish, as he feels he is superior to the country folk, being from London and all. He is very charming and flirtatious, and wins the hearts of at least two girls (that we know of) while staying in the countryside. He flirts with Maria Bertram, a cousin of Fanny Price, the protagonist of the novel, although Maria is engaged to be married, and later on in the novel, he complicates Maria’s life with his roguish ways. It can be easily said that Henry is quite immoral.

After Maria’s marriage and departure from Mansfield Park, Henry begins to amuse himself with Fanny Price, the poor relation of the Bertrams, because it is his idea of fun to make her fall in love with him, but then he actually falls in love with her genuinely. Fanny seems to have a good influence on him and there is a chance that Henry might change for the better. That endeared me to Henry: he is a rogue who finds real love, much to his and everyone else’s surprise. I have a soft spot for such characters. However, Henry’s love is unrequited. When he proposes to Fanny, she rejects him for several reasons, and that determines that Henry will not change. He returns back to his old habits and becomes his old, roguish self, destroying a woman in the process.

Despite his highly immoral character, I do find Henry very likeable. He provides me with a fun read. As much as I love Jane Austen, I could never warm up to Mansfield Park and Henry Crawford is definitely the highlight of the novel for me.


Unknown said...

Great post. I haven't read Mansfield Park but I know the story from the BBC adaptation. I thought it was a wonderful story but it sounds like reading it and watching it are two very different experiences.

Enbrethiliel said...



I like Henry Crawford, too, and think he could have been redeemed in the end. He was certainly on his way to a well-deserved happy ending, wasn't he? The final fatal decision he makes could have just as easily gone the other way. I guess it didn't because Austen wanted: a) to make a point about strength or weakness of character; and b) to let Fanny end up with Edmund, as is kind of hinted at the beginning of the novel.

As for Edmund . . . Ugh! He's all right, I guess, but he needs to grow up almost as much as Henry--and he's not half as interesting. At least he makes the right choice in the end, when tempted by an amoral woman; and that definitely makes all the difference.

The Insouciant Sophisticate said...

@ Enbrethiliel I've always found Edmund so boring that it's hard to be happy when they FINALLY get together

Lately I've been thinking that it would have been more interesting if Henry and Fanny had ended up together-he could have added some spice to her life and she could have moderated his worst tendencies. But of course that doesn't really fit with the kinds of books Austen wrote.

Blodeuedd said...

Kind of sad, I am sure he would have been a good man with her, but alas no

Irena @ This Miss Loves to Read said...

@Becky: The BBC adaptation is so good to watch, but reading the book is something else. However, don't be discouraged, you might like it. Reading is a very personal thing, after all.

It seems we all agree that Henry is much more interesting than Edmund, and Fanny would have been better off with Henry. I do believe Henry could have been redeemed, but Jane Austen already had a couple in mind, I'm afraid. I'm thinking that, if a Bronte sister had written the novel, Henry and Fanny might just have ended up getting married, after all.

Enbrethiliel said...


@Bookworm1858 -- To add to what you've said about Henry and Edmund: which of the two makes more of an effort to be worthy of Fanny? Heck, which of the two even notices Fanny in the first place?

I still remember the moment Henry realises Fanny isn't half the pushover he has always thought her and begins to admire her. Edmund, on the other hand, just seems to settle for her.

@Irena -- I totally agree that if a Bronte sister had written this novel, Fanny and Henry would have ended up together! =) Good call!

By the way, I'm currently rereading Jane Eyre. Mr. Rochester is even more awful than Henry, who is just an immature rogue. Henry really had potential.

Irena @ This Miss Loves to Read said...

@Enbrethiliel: Reading Jane Eyre? That's great, I love this novel. And, I would have to agree, Henry is just an immature rogue with definite potential, but Mr Rochester is something else. I know he's considered as such a dreamy character, but I never saw him as such. I guess he's perfect for Jane Eyre, but not for me.

Hannah said...

I've just recently discovered your blog and am enjoying it very much. Crawford is quite a character. I love the idea that of rethinking the story through a Bronte lens! Ah, for romance rather than propriety...

Introverted Jen said...

I actually liked Edmund, but I can't remember why, so it must not have been a strong feeling! I thought Mary Crawford was way more interesting than Fanny Price. Fanny just never did anything to me. I think Austen just focused on the wrong family in the book! The Crawfords got all the personality!

Mary Simonsen said...

I could never warm up to MP either. I think it was because Fanny was such a stick in the mud, and Edmund is about the same. The bad guys in the novel were the most interesting people.