So, are you ready for the next throwdown? In this contest, six fathers will vie for the Worst Father category. Remember the rule: to vote for the candidate who you think most closely fits the description. (Voting for your favorite or least favorite character won't work.) Here are the first two candidates for:
Sir Thomas Bertram of Mansfield Park
Sir Thomas's sins are those of omission and self-delusion. While he loves his children, his ambition to increase his wealth and refine his social connections are in conflict with his family's best interests, leading to a ruinous marriage for Maria. He generously invites Fanny Price to live with his family, yet he allows Mrs. Norris, a cruel woman, control over Fanny. His social ambitions cause him to influence Fanny to consider Henry Crawford's suit, despite her aversion to the man. Sir Thomas realizes his mistakes after Maria runs off with Henry Crawford, but by then the damage has been done. Maria is ruined and Fanny must live with the consequences of years of verbal abuse.
Mr. Woodhouse of Hartfield House
Emma's father seems more like a child than the family patriarch. A fearful hypochondriac (or aging old man), he must be cossetted by his daughter and family at every turn. Mr. Woodhouse suffers from another affliction: a foolish and dim mind. His love for gruel, slow walks, pure air, and a cozy fire away from draughts drive his conversations. And his lack of parenting skills are legendary. After learning of his daughter's engagement to a fine man, his first reaction was to think about her abandonment of his poor, lonely self.