Sweetest Lady #3
Miss Jane Bennet, Pride and Prejudice
Was ever a more compliant and loving character devised by an author than Lizzy Bennet's older sister? I'd like to confess that I find Jane's sweetness almost treacly. Her saving graces are her intelligence and steadfast loyalty. No one seems jealous of her beauty precisely because she is so agreeable. How could she possibly have stomached Miss Caroline Bingley and Mrs. Hurst for as long as she did? She also shows her mother great forbearance during a time of emotional distress. One imagines that Jane's marriage to Mr. Bingley will proceed placidly without a single kerfuffle to mar their relationship, even with his sisters as in-laws. For Jane to have found her male counterpart in sweetness was a lucky and fortuitous stroke of Miss Austen's pen.
Miss Fanny Price, Mansfield Park
Shall I have to make a case for Fanny as the sweetest character or are there enough of us rooting for her to make this a close contest? She had a tougher row to hoe than Jane, living among a group of people who considered her more a lackey than a cherished relative. Except for Edmund, no one truly cared for her emotional well being. Fanny manages to retain her sweet disposition despite Mrs. Norris's spiteful bullying and Lady Bertram's dependence on her for every little thing. She remains loving towards Sir Thomas Bertram, even when he sends her packing to Portsmouth to mull over her decision to resist Henry Crawford's proposal, and manages to keep her misgivings about Mary Crawford under such tight control that neither Edmund nor Mary ever suspect her of anything but devoted friendship. Fanny has been tested time and again. That she remains sweet, forgiving, and generous-hearted despite her emotionally deprived background seems miraculous to me.
Posted by Vic, Jane Austen's World