“He had very little pleasure in returning to the stately mansion, hidden among sheltering oaks and venerable beeches. The square, red brick house, gleaming at the end of a long arcade of leafless trees was to be forever desolate, he thought, since Alicia would not come to be its mistress. A hundred improvements planned and thought of were dismissed from his mind as useless now…all these things were now so much vanity and vexation of spirit” (Chapter 16)
“The shadows of the early winter twilight, gathering thickest under the low oak ceiling of the hall, and the quaint curve of the arched doorway…he could see no shadows when she was by” (Chapter 16)
Although a passage about a less important character to the story, I found it striking due to its similarities to the overarching plot points. Considering the circumstances of other relationships in the story, a great deal of hope (or more accurately, an expectation of how things should be) accompanies these feelings of love; whether it’s Alicia wanting a certain kind of care and attention from Robert, Sir Michael expecting a different response when he proposed to Lucy, or George expecting his wife to be alive when he arrived at London. In all these cases, the “victims” of love are blinded by this delusion that their hope gives them. I think a compelling connection can be made to the theme of light and dark, as it appears shortly after the text is done talking about Harry Towers; and how we’ve established that the theme of light and shadow represents the line between truth and delusion. It’s also important to note that Lucy is also in this passage, drawing a parallel between Harry Towers and Sir Michael’s condition. Despite being a very small addition, the quote “he could see no shadows when she was by” is rather important. Considering this statement when evaluating other relationships in the story, we can see this hope in love is rather comforting, if not obstinate. The characters could be comfortable with their own imagination of reality like Alicia, or they could ignore the truth and choose blissful ignorance instead like Sir Michael; despite noticing that something is clearly wrong when he proposed to Lucy, Michael instead chooses to be happy that she agreed to marry him. We can clearly see Harry Towers suffering when his ego and hopes were crushed within a day, which is foreshadowing the miseries ahead when the bubble of delusions about Lucy Audley is inevitably popped.