Most Formidable Woman
Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Pride and Prejudice
Proud, imperious, bossy, and insufferable. And those are among Lady Catherine De Bourgh's better qualities. In my estimation, she tosses off one of Jane's best lines: "There are few people in England, I suppose, who have more true enjoyment of music than myself, or a better natural taste. If I had ever learnt, I should have been a great proficient." We should be happy that Lady Catherine has such a high opinion of herself, for she was the means by which Darcy and Lizzy were reunited. Had she not dashed off to Longbourn to persuade Lizzy to give up all and any claims to Darcy's affections, he might never have heard of her impertinence in not promising to enter into an engagement with him. The last words Lady Catherine utters in the novel sums up her character nicely: "I take no leave of you, Miss Bennet. I send no compliments to your mother. You deserve no such attention. I am most seriously displeased." Lady Catherine never fails us in our opinion of her.
Mrs. Ferrars, Sense and Sensibility
Edward Ferrars' momma is not a nice lady, and that's the sweetest thing we can say about her. Proud, spiteful, and as motherly as a cuckoo bird who allows others to rear its offspring, she holds the monetary sword of Damocles over her eldest son's head, always threatening him with disinheritance if he does not obey her in all things. As soon as she learned about Edward's engagement to Lucy Steele, she rewrote her will, leaving her fortune to her second (and favorite) son, Robert. The irony of the plot was that Robert wound up marrying Lucy AND keeping the fortune, but all was not lost for Edward. He married the woman he loved and achieved his ambition to become the rector of his own parish. As for Mrs. Ferrars, her values were so askew that she preferred Lucy and Robert over Elinor and Edward. Lucy and Robert"settled in town, received very liberal assistance from Mrs. Ferrars, were on the best terms imaginable with the Dashwoods, and setting aside the jealousies and ill-will continually subsisting between Fanny and Lucy, in which their husbands of course took a part, as well as the frequent domestic disagreements between Robert and Lucy themselves, nothing could exceed the harmony in which they all lived together." Hah! Oh, how I would like to be a fly on the wall during those times of family bickering, no doubt encouraged by Mrs. Ferrars herself.