From the first moment Mr. Tilney introduced Catherine and me to his sister, Eleanor, I liked her immensely. She has a serious, yet kind and generous personality. Her warmth and sincerity make her a much better friend than Isabella Thorpe could ever be.
The influence her frienship has on Catherine is obvious and quite significant as she encourages Catherine to mature and become a better lady, like herself. Catherine instantly admires Eleanor upon first introduction, even though she is still rather loyal to Isabella. However, by the end, Catherine learns what is really valuable in a friend.
After losing her mother at a young age, it is clear that Eleanor is a bit lonely with only her harsh, controlling father and two brothers for companions. She is in love with a man whom she is forbidden from speaking to. (*Spoiler alert: She does anyway, secretly rendezvousing in the woods.*) Catherine's friendship with her is just as important as hers with Catherine.
Despite her rather sad and lonely upbringing, Eleanor proves to be a strong woman who believes in love. Even when she is unhappy in love herself, she encourages both her brother and Catherine in their growing relationship. Having Catherine come and stay with her at Northanger Abbey is a turning point for them both as they spend time in each other's company and grow closer. Unfortunately, they are soon torn apart by General Tilney who tells Eleanor that she must ask Catherine to leave immediately with no explanation. Yet they determine to correspond with each other in spite of Eleanor's father.
Now poor Eleanor is alone again. That is until *spoiler warning* her lover returns a viscount and she marries him. Finally, out of the goodness of her heart, she influences her father to consent to Henry and Catherine's marriage as well. Really, if it weren't for Eleanor, Catherine's story would not have a happy ending.
I think Eleanor deserves her own novel, truly. She does possess the qualities of a heroine one can sympathize with. She proves herself to be strong and sensible, not one of Jane Austen's timid minor characters nor one of her ridiculous ones or the witty social critique. No, Eleanor is definitely a heroine in her own right.
She has always been a favorite of mine and should not be underestimated. What do you think? Do you agree? Does she not deserve as much credit as I give her?