Saturday, September 17, 2011

Characters who are Caricatures: John Thorpe

So!  After quite a while, here's another character who is a caricature.  A caricature of dorkiness, perhaps?

“You do not really think, Mr. Thorpe,” said Catherine..., “that James’s gig will break down?”
“Break down! Oh! Lord! Did you ever see such a little tittuppy thing in your life? There is not a sound piece of iron about it. The wheels have been fairly worn out these ten years at least — and as for the body! Upon my soul, you might shake it to pieces yourself with a touch.... I would not be bound to go two miles in it for fifty thousand pounds.”
“Good heavens!” cried Catherine, quite frightened. “Then pray let us turn back; they will certainly meet with an accident if we go on.... Mr. Thorpe; stop and speak to my brother, and tell him how very unsafe it is.”
“Unsafe! Oh, lord! What is there in that?... The carriage is safe enough, if a man knows how to drive it; a thing of that sort in good hands will last above twenty years after it is fairly worn out. Lord bless you! I would undertake for five pounds to drive it to York and back again, without losing a nail.”
- Northanger Abbey, chapter 9

John Thorpe is one of Jane Austen stupidest characters.  Not stupid like Mr. Collins or Mr. Rushworth, because he's that by nature, but just totally full of himself, and contradicting himself regularly if it suits him. 

A very laughable passage is where he tries to propose to Catherine, but she doesn't even know that he's doing it.  Than he brags about Catherine's fortune to General Tilney, adding 'twice as much for the grandeur of the moment, ...trebling his private fortune, bestowing a rich aunt,' and saying that she was the heiress of Mr. Allen's estate.  This results in an invitation for Catherine to Northanger Abbey, and the rude expulsion is a result of his contradicting himself again.  

He is so totally crazy, and mixes up things so much, but for some reason he's not one of the characters I love to hate.  He's too dorky to be hated, and gives plenty of laughs.

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