If social appearances counted for everything, Katharine would be an excellent match for the conventional, uninspiring William Rodney. She has a reputation for being practical (largely because she does not speak much), and she effectively manages the Hilbery household. She also appears to possess literary interests, assisting her mother to write a biography of her grandfather, the famous poet Alardyce.
She also has an imaginative, visionary side to her personality which Rodney could never understand or share and which makes a union between them impossible. She inhabits an inner world, an imaginative realm of being in which she is able to experience total beauty and complete happiness, a place where she loves “some magnanimous hero,” where “feelings [are] liberated from the constraint which the real world puts upon them.” Whenever she thinks about love or contemplates the vastness and perfection of the heavens (she has a secret interest in astronomy), she transcends the smallness of her own life, and the magnanimous hero appears at her side.
Rodney can never be this hero, however; he inhabits a much less exalted realm. Although he is undoubtedly a cultured man, he is oversensitive, demanding, highly critical, and distressingly clumsy in dealing with his own emotions. He has a deep appreciation of literature, but he is most drawn to its technical aspects; he excels, for example, in handling meter. When he reads his own play to Katharine,...
(The entire section is 556 words.)