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Sunday, October 5

Jane Austen Character Throwdown

Whew. Miss Jane Bennet, while clearly the winner, didn't completely run away with the category of sweetest lady. Miss Fanny Price managed to receive 30% of the vote, a respectable number considering Jane's popularity. The next category will pit two unlikeable characters against each other. This time we will start with the big guns and work down to the minor category. On this historic occasion, for we have never pitted a male against a female before, who deserves the following title most?
Most Conniving Character

Mr. Frank Churchill, Emma

He looked Emma straight in the eye and and implied that he was free and unencumbered even while he was secretly engaged to Jane Fairfax. In fact, he mistled all of Highbury, most inexcusably his father and Emma. I wonder if Ewan Macregor's wig was placed crooked on his head on purpose in Emma 1996, for the effect added to the character's duplicitous behavior. Frank might be superficially charming, but I found his toying with Jane Fairfax's emotions downright cruel. Here is an exchange between Frank and Emma from Chapter 26:

"What is the matter?" said she.

He started. "Thank you for rousing me," he replied. "I believe I have been very rude; but really Miss Fairfax has done her hair in so odd a way—so very odd a way—that I cannot keep my eyes from her. I never saw any thing so outrée!—Those curls!—This must be a fancy of her own. I see nobody else looking like her!—I must go and ask her whether it is an Irish fashion. Shall I?—Yes, I will—I declare I will—and you shall see how she takes it;—whether she colours."

He was gone immediately; and Emma soon saw him standing before Miss Fairfax, and talking to her; but as to its effect on the young lady, as he had improvidently placed himself exactly between them, exactly in front of Miss Fairfax, she could absolutely distinguish nothing.

Miss Lucy Steele, Sense and Sensibility

A shallow, unrefined, and deliberately cruel character, she singled Elinor out on purpose to confide to her about her secret engagement to Edward Ferrars. Each time Lucy spoke to Elinor, she twisted the knife in just a little more. What galls me is that she didn't get her comeuppance, but lived in luxury by marrying Edward's brother, Robert.

"I certainly did not seek your confidence," said Elinor; "but you do me no more than justice in imagining that I may be depended on. Your secret is safe with me; but pardon me if I express some surprise at so unnecessary a communication. You must at least have felt that my being acquainted with it could not add to its safety."

As she said this, she looked earnestly at Lucy, hoping to discover something in her countenance; perhaps the falsehood of the greatest part of what she had been saying; but Lucy's countenance suffered no change.

"I was afraid you would think I was taking a great liberty with you," said she, "in telling you all this. I have not known you long to be sure, personally at least, but I have known you and all your family by description a great while; and as soon as I saw you, I felt almost as if you was an old acquaintance. Besides in the present case, I really thought some explanation was due to you after my making such particular inquiries about Edward's mother; and I am so unfortunate, that I have not a creature whose advice I can ask." - Sense and Sensibility, Chapter 22. free polls
Jane Austen Character Throwdown: Most Conniving
Mr. Frank Churchill Miss Lucy Steele


nigel said...

Tough call on this one.
I will have to think some more and leave for tomorrow.

nigel said...

Lucy Steele!
Would I be wrong in suggesting women are very good at emotional conspiracy?

Faith said...

Why, Miss Lucy Steele of course. Mr. Frank Churchill was unguarded whilst hiding his engagement, but he loved Miss Fairfax and did not want to break off his engagement due to his Aunt's disapproval.

On the other hand, Miss Steele was conniving and selfish and heartless for no other discernible reason than vanity.

At least Mr. Churchill had love at heart, even if his tactics were misguided. Miss Steele cared for no one.