Using his protean imagination, Henry seeks honor continuously by creating a series of beautiful moments both for himself alone and for himself and others. He becomes the object of desire for the Bertram sisters; he becomes the master improver of estates for Rushworth; he becomes Frederick to Maria's Agatha in Lover's Vows; he becomes the heroic adventurer in William's seafaring tales and then William's valiant benefactor in real life; he becomes Fanny's knight in shining armor; he becomes all the principal characters in Shakespeare's Henry VIII; he becomes the eloquent preacher in a London church; he becomes the benevolent estate-holder concerned about his tenants; he becomes the perfect gentleman caller at Portsmouth; and finally, he becomes trapped in a former beautiful moment, one that Maria cannot forget, and he suffers irreparable consequences.
Fanny aptly sums up his character when she says he "was every thing to every body, and seemed to find no one essential to him." No one is essential because Henry can never be satisfied with one; he needs an ever-changing audience of many admirers to accommodate his ego's pleonexia (insatiable drive to acquire) for honor and his imagination's pleonexia for roles. Becoming rather than being is Henry's mode.
Joyce Kerr Tarpley, Constancy and the Ethics of Jane Austen's Mansfield Park, p. 162.