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.