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Sunday, February 1

Jane Austen Character Throwdown: This Sister Makes Me Cringe

Last week Beechen Cliff edged out Box Hill as the best climb by quite a few walkers. We now turn to Jane's characters again and think about family. Which sister appalls you more - Mary Bennet or Mary Musgrove? In other words,
Whose Behavior Makes You Cringe More?

Mary Bennet, Pride and Prejudice

Always pontificating and stating the obvious, Mary is a bore with a capital B. Although she reads prodigiously, she possesses as little intellect as talent. At Netherfield, Mary sings and plays the piano in such an excrutiatingly bad way that Lizzy begs her father to put an end to her "performance." Mary's judgement is so poor that she actually admires Mr. Collins, proving without a doubt that Colleen McCullough's premise for The Independence of Mary Bennet is a complete and utter joke. Jane Austen, Mary's creator, observes: "[Elizabeth] was eagerly succeeded at the instrument by her sister Mary, who having, in consequence of being the only plain one in the family, worked hard for knowledge and accomplishments, was always impatient for display. Mary had neither genius nor taste; and though vanity had given her application, it had given her likewise a pedantic air and conceited manner, which would have injured a higher degree of excellence than she had reached."

Mary Musgrove nee Elliot, Persuasion

Mary Musgrove is full of the Elliot pride, which is the only thing this complaining, often hysterical hypochondriac has going for her. An inattentive mother, she will pawn her children off her sister or husband. Mary imagines slights where there are none, and is quite vocal about what is due to her, even when she is completely wrong. '... any indisposition sunk her completely; she had no resources for solitude; and inheriting a considerable share of the Elliot self-importance, was very prone to add to every other distress that of fancying herself neglected and ill-used. In person, she was inferior to both sisters, and had, even in her bloom, only reached the dignity of being "a fine girl." She was now lying on the faded sofa of the pretty little drawing-room ... and, on Anne's appearing, greeted her with, "So, you are come at last! I began to think I should never see you. I am so ill I can hardly speak. I have not seen a creature the whole morning!"'The Musgroves wish that Charles had married Anne instead of Mary. To give him his due, Anne was his first choice for a wife.

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Jane Austen Character Throwdown: Whose Behavior Makes You Cringe More?
Mary Bennet Mary Musgrove

9 comments:

Lynn said...

I am kind of torn on this throwdown because they are both equally "cringy" to me.

Mary Musgrove makes me want to just slap her. She is so obsessed with her own comforts, diversions and needs that she is a miserable person to be around and to be related to. She is quite simply, never happy about anything.

I must, however, give the edge to Mary Bennet. She is stuck up, arrogant, sullen,spoiled and bad company but most of all.... I just can't abide a bad singing voice !

sandyquill said...

I voted for Mary Musgrove as the most cringe-inspiring. I have this idea that Mary Bennet actually has Asperger's Syndrome and so I can't really cringe as much as I pity.

Blarney Girl said...

I voted for Mary Bennet, but now I feel kinda bad after reading sandyquill's comment!! LOL Asperger's Syndrome!! I'm with Lynn about Mary Musgrove - slap her! Not that I think it would do any good, but I'd get a little satisfaction out of it!! :)

Dang! I want to change my vote

Lynn said...

I don't remember Mary's character being described as having some sort of malady, inpediment or chronic condition. I guess it is possible considering how different she was from the 4 other Bennet sisters...just a matter of perception and opinion...Jane Austen never really spelled that out for us.

Mary Bennet just always struck me as saying the wrong things at the wrong time, embarrassing herself,her family, stating the obvious over and over again and not giving a hoot when she did it all ! I guess you could give her high marks for consistancy and stubborness. Oh, the pain !

Bostan natsuko said...

With Mary Musgrove i must say i agree with Lynn, but Mary Bennet is loved by Elizabeth. I am sure that her bad charater is only the affect of not reciving attention from her mother, and after seeing how her two young sisters act and the nature of her mother she is not happy that they act so horrible. She is content with her own caracter and position. She is the affect of ill breeding and can't help it, that is all i can say.

Theresa said...

I always felt like Mary Bennett was a victim of being an intellectual in a world that didn't accept women who were bookish. She was certainly socially awkward, but her behavior was hardly to be compared with that of her younger sisters. Mary Musgrove on the other hand intentionally manipulated people, was extremely self-absorbed, and made everyone miserable.

Faith said...

I had to vote for Mary Musgrove. Mary Bennet may be odious & haughty, but she doesn't seem to require constant doting and attention. My patience would wear very thin in having to deal with Mrs. Musgrove on a regular basis. I lack the compassion needed for nervous complaints.

Anonymous said...

I voted for Mary Bennet, but now I feel kinda bad after reading sandyquill's comment!! LOL Asperger's Syndrome!! I'm with Lynn about Mary Musgrove

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Anonymous said...

I voted for Mary Musgrove because lets face it she was just a really silly and selfish person. I felt sorry for Mary Bennet through most of the novel because I felt as if she was graping at straws to be included but never got the hang of it. She did not have a sister to pair off with like the others. Jane had Elizabeth and Katherine (Kitty) had Lydia. Poor Mary Bennet had her inappropriate observations and poor talent=(