by Shannon Hale
Mr. William Nobley/Henry Jenkins
Gentleman for Pay
As one of the gentlemen employed at Austenland, Henry Jenkins clearly models his character (Mr. Nobley) on Mr. Darcy: he's "handsome, in a brooding sort of way" (4.62). Take that, Edward Cullen. And, just as Mr. Darcy bugged the bejesus out of Lizzie Bennet, Mr. Nobley really, really irritates our Jane at first.
Jane finds his "arrogance annoying and his self-absorption unbearably boring" (4.102). Besides that, he's "a mean, unpleasant, loathsome man" (5.64). And Jane's pissed, because he was "supposed to be Darcy-adorable, not teeth-grindingly maddening" (10.19). Um, we have to say it: those two are one and the same, Jane dear. Sorry to break it to you.
But, just as Elizabeth Bennet's love for Mr. Darcy grew over time, Jane sees more good in Mr. Nobley the longer she spends with him… even if Mr. Nobley does make charming statements like, "Women make life impossible until the man has to be the one to end it" (11.30).
The Man Behind the Mask
As it turns out, Mr. Nobley's attitude toward women is informed by his—well, Henry's—personal life. When Jane has her bud Molly run a background check on Henry Jenkins, she discovers that Henry went through a pretty nasty divorce. And, as in any good (anti-)love song, he's been bitter about it ever since.
But our girl Jane's the one to help him outta that funk. Mr. Nobley proves himself a true gentleman when he convinces Miss Heartwright to take the fall for Jane's cell phone fiasco, which almost got her booted from Austenland.
Then, he chases Jane to the airport and scraps with Martin for her affections. (What epic romance doesn't have two dudes duking it out for a lady's heart?) Finally, Mr. Nobley tells Jane the words she's been waiting to hear ever since she first pushed play on that Pride and Prejudice DVD. He says:
I don't know how to have a fling […] I'm hoping for a shot at forever. (20.16)
This bold statement of love echoes what Jane was thinking back in Chapter 2:
In Austen's world there was no such thing as a fling. Every romance was intended to lead to marriage. (2.64)
Hm. So, Mr. Nobley proves that if Mr. Darcy were real, he'd drive us crazy… but we'd fall in love with him anyway. What kind of a moral is that?!