04 December 2010

Miss Austen's Pleasant Characters

There are some characters in Miss Austen's works* novels that are just nice charming people that you would like get have a pint or a cup of tea with. Oftentimes these are minor characters that other writers are now bringing into the forefront of new novels which, in my opinion is nice to see. These are in no particular order:
Robert Martin - now he may not be the most fashionable person in Highbury, but if Mr. Knightly things so very highly of him, I think it would be worth Emma to rethink her pert opinions. " I never hear better sense from any one than Robert Martin. He always speaks to the purpose; open, straightforward, and very well judging. He told me every thing; his circumstances and plans, and what they all proposed doing in the event of his marriage. He is an excellent young man, both as son and brother. I had no hesitation in advising him to marry. He proved to me that he could afford it; and that being the case, I was convinced he could not do better. I praised the fair lady too, and altogether sent him away very happy." Robert Martin seems kind and thoughtful and will lead Harriet Smith into a happy life.

Charles Musgrove - he must be thought a nice, decent guy because he was smart enough to realize that Anne Elliot was worth marrying. He's a kind attentive brother, a VERY patient husband and easily makes new friends. He can certainly see right through the Elliot Pride and isn't above poking fun at his wife's family (Anne, excepted). In a typical conversation between Charles and his lovely wife Mary:
"Phoo! phoo!" replied Charles, "what's an evening party? Never worth remembering. Your father might have asked us to dinner, I think, if he had wanted to see us. You may do as you like, but I shall go to the play."

"Oh! Charles, I declare it will be too abominable if you do,when you promised to go."
"No, I did not promise. I only smirked and bowed, and said the word `happy.' There was no promise."
Sofia Croft - Another lovely character that Miss Austen created. She's independent, in love with her husband (after all these years), intelligent and kind. She would be someone I would love to hear more about her life, as did Mrs. Musgrove:
"What a great traveller you must have been, ma'am!" said Mrs Musgrove to Mrs Croft.

"Pretty well, ma'am in the fifteen years of my marriage; though many women have done more. I have crossed the Atlantic four times, and have been once to the East Indies, and back again, and only once; besides being in different places about home: Cork, and Lisbon, and Gibraltar. But I never went beyond the Streights, and never was in the West Indies. We do not call Bermuda or Bahama, you know, the West Indies."

Mrs Croft continues: "And I do assure you, ma'am," pursued Mrs Croft, "that nothing can exceed the accommodations of a man-of-war; I speak, you know, of the higher rates. When you come to a frigate, of course, you are more confined; though any reasonable woman may be perfectly happy in one of them; and I can safely say, that the happiest part of my life has been spent on board a ship. While we were together, you know, there was nothing
to be feared. Thank God! I have always been blessed with excellent health, and no climate disagrees with me. A little disordered always the first twenty-four hours of going to sea, but never knew what sickness was afterwards. The only time I ever really suffered in body or mind, the only time that I ever fancied myself unwell, or had any ideas of danger, was the winter that I passed by myself at Deal, when the Admiral (Captain Croft then) was in the North Seas. I lived in perpetual fright at that time, and had all manner of imaginary complaints from not knowing what to do with myself, or when I should hear from him next; but as long as we could be together, nothing ever ailed me, and I never met with the smallest inconvenience."

Pride & Prejudice:
Charlotte Lucas - If she is Elizabeth Bennet's particular friend, then she must be pretty special. And she is. While she's a little older, she's practical and actual has good advice - even if it doesn't fix the Elizabeth's romantic ideals such as this:
"Well," said Charlotte, "I wish Jane success with all my heart; and if she were married to him to-morrow, I should think she had as good a chance of happiness as if she were to be studying his character for a twelvemonth. Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance. If the dispositions of the parties are ever so well known to each other or ever so similar beforehand, it does not advance their felicity in the least. They always continue to grow suf ciently unlike afterwards to have their share of vexation; and it is better to know as little as possible of the defects of the person with whom you are to pass your life."
"You make me laugh, Charlotte; but it is not sound. You know it is not sound, and that you would never act in this way yourself."

She may have made a disasterous marriage (there is little doubt of that), but she is smart enough to make the best of it. She's no dummy.

Northanger Abbey:
Eleanor Tilney - Eleanor Tilney's mother must have been lovely to raise such a charming, lovely, mature daughter. I actually would like to be like her. She's accustomed the General's strange ways and manages them with style. She sees right through Catherine Morland's admiration for her brother Henry (but who wouldn't fall for him, I ask you?). She is mortified at the treatment of Catherine by her father, but in the end is able to help secure Catherine's happiness. "Miss Tilney had a good figure, a pretty face, and a very agreeable
countenance; and her air, though it had not all the decided pretension, the resolute stylishness of Miss Thorpe's, had more real elegance. Her manners showed good sense and good breeding; they were neither shy nor affectedly open; and she seemed capable of being
young, attractive, and at a ball without wanting to fix the attention of every man near her, and without exaggerated feelings of ecstatic delight or inconceivable vexation on every little trifling occurrence."

Now here comes the difficult part, I'm having a hard time finding genuinely nice people in Sense & Sensibility and Mansfield Park. My characters have tended to be minor (ie. not the heros and heroines, esp.) characters but I'm drawing a blank in these two books.

Sense & Sensibility:
Mrs. Jennings - she does mean well, but ... all the gossiping and useless chatter
Lady Middleton - um. no.
John Dashwood - um. no.
I'm at a loss.

Mansfield Park:
There is no one - at all that's really nice. Except Fanny, and she's perhaps too much so.

* I had a college professor who hated describing novels, paintings, architecture, etc. as works. Guess she's made her point. 


  1. I think Mrs. Jennings redeems herself during Marianne's illness. Contrary to the film adaptation, she stays on at her son-in-laws house to help nurse Marianne, and to offer Elinor comfort and companionship. Even Marianne comes to care for her in the end.

  2. I really like Robert Martin. He knew the girl he wanted to marry and wouldn't let hope die. Of course, Charlotte Collins deserves our sympathy and respect. She had to marry Mr. Collins, but I think she would have improved his character. Thanks.


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