08 August 2010

Miss Austen's Hateful Characters

I'm going to start reviewing some characters of Miss Austen's and since it's always easiest to start with those you dislike, I shall. The following are the characters, I find, to be the most hateful and unforgivable. Not all of her novels have such a character. Emma, for instance, doesn't have a character I consider evil, though certainly some that are icky and a few that are special for being just right.
These are in no particular order, excepting the order they came to me as I came up with the list. As follows are my list of truly terrible characters {Plenty o' Spoilers}:

Henry Crawford - not thought handsome at first, his snake-like charm makes Maria and Julia Bertram both interested in him. You know he must just love having two sisters fight over him and to his credit he plays the game well; spending time with one sister to enrage the other and then, just in time turning on the charm to the one who thought herself slighted. Choosing to prefer the engaged Maria was a risky move, but again played well - do we think he's done this before - oh yes. He's a cad from way back. No doubt honing his skills where ever he goes and it does not seem to matter if a woman is a beauty or rich or neither, it's all just for his own amusement. Happily Julia finally sees the light (I mean does someone have to hit that girl over the head or what?) and has nothing more to do with Crawford and his flirting ways. Maria, too, makes up her mind that it's best to have a husband with a large fortune and a house in Town than be a play thing for Crawford and marries stupid Mr. Rushmore. Poor Crawford, no one left to play with ... except the paragon of virtue, Fanny Price. Thankfully, Fanny will have none of it -- even when pushed by Edmund, scolded my Mrs. Norris and questioned by Sir Thomas. No matter what you think of Fanny Price, you have to give her credit for standing up for herself in this case. She knew what Crawford was and saw through his game. Did he genuinely fall in love with her? Maybe. But if so, it wasn't enough to keep him from returning to his evil ways and ruining the life of Maria Bertram. Hateful creature - but would he be so hateful, if women weren't so flattered by him?

George Wickham - handsome and smooth and insinuating all kinds of things against Mr. Darcy with people he had only just met. Not nice. How is that evil creatures, more often than not, come is what are seemingly nice packages. Wickham is so very charming (and don't look too shabby in a uniform), but so easily spreads lies to undermine someone whom he perceives has wronged him (Darcy). When the truth comes out we find that Wickham has moved from woman to woman in order to secure a fortune through marriage and has almost persuaded Darcy's younger sister, Georgiana, to elope with him for her 30,000 pounds. Thankfully, he was stopped by Darcy. Everyone is deceived in him when they meet him because he oozes charm, but when they think back on the situation it becomes clear that he's a charlatan. Of course, much of this is not known until it's too late and stupid Lydia believes herself in love with him and elopes with him. Pushed to the point, he just wanted some companionship and was still on the make for a wealthy wife. Had it not been for Darcy, Lydia's (and her family's) reputation could not have been salvaged. Deceitful and insinuating.

John Willoughby - handsome, romantic, articulate, fun. What could be better? Well, let's see, perhaps if he didn't get young women knocked up, leave another girl (and her family) who loves him with little notice, behave like a total jerk at a ball, write hateful notes (yes, we know why, but he was weak), and then marry a rich woman leaving the girl who loves him to almost allow herself to die over this betrayal. In the end, Willoughby admits that he began by just playing with Marianne Dashwood, but did fall in love with her. So does that make him better or worse? Better because he had to be suffering some too, or worse because he left love for money? I'm glad he suffered, but he's still a scoundrel for securing money over love and not doing the right thing.

Isabella Thorpe (and her equally creepy brother John Thorpe) - Another pretty package, but no real feeling heart. Perhaps she doesn't have a heart at all. It must have been wonderful having Catherine Morland following her every word and being such an influence over dear young Catherine. But to then also be the master of Catherine's beloved brother James - get engaged after all  -- but Isabella thinks of no one but herself. When she has to wait for Catherine she complains, when she finds out what Mr. Morland (with 10 children) is willing to do for herself and James she complains - right in front of Catherine no less. When James is not around she's a shameless flirt.  And then wonders why James will have nothing more to do with her, begging Catherine to help her out of her fix.  Deceitful and scheming describe Isabella Thorpe. 
Now on to creepy brother John and creepy is the best way to describe him - ugh. Spreads gossip, tries to move up the social ladder, makes moves on Catherine that she either is too naive too see or just ignores and then is exasperated at Catherine for having no feelings for him (like she could - ugh). He's pushy in changing Catherine's plans with the Tilneys to get his own way. Perhaps that's his and Isabella's biggest flaw - they want their own way and will not be happy until they get it  - no matter what it does to anyone else. They are self-centered.

Mrs. Norris - Now this woman is just plain mean - but only to people she perceives as lower than her, in this case Fanny Price. She's great at sucking up to her sister and her sister's husband, Sir Thomas Bertram, and of course the Bertram children can do little wrong, but poor Fanny suffers the brunt of Mrs. Norris' mean streak. Fanny, in Mrs. Norris' eyes, never does anything right. She uses Fanny to run errands without regard to Fanny's health or well-being. She makes sure Fanny knows she is not up to the level of the grand Miss Bertrams (but we know how that turns out, don't we?) In the end, Mrs. Norris gets what she deserves - spending the rest of her life taking care of her beloved Maria, who has disgraced her self and her family.

What a group, aren't they? I've debated in my head if Caroline Bingley should be in the group as well... and can't decide. Part of me says yes, but part says that she's just a pathetic creature. Time will tell. 
Next - tackling Austen's icky characters and there are so so many. 


  1. I hope you do another post on "unlikeable" characters. Another confession: I don't like anything about Mansfield Park. But what Henry Crawford did to Maria was just wrong! Her reputation was ruined forever. "Get thee to a nunnery, Maria."

  2. I plan on a couple of more of these lists - right now I'm working on characters I consider icky (Mr. Collins for example). Then I plan on characters I like, but who are not the major characters... To be honest, I'm finding it hard to do for Mansfield Park.


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