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Sunday, April 26

Jane Austen Character Throwdown: Comical Character

Frederick Wentworth's letter pierced your souls and he won the last throwdown with his eloquent words. Jane Austen, known for her sharp observations and satire, peopled her novels with eccentric characters we all recognize, for in our own lives we have met variations of these types. Each in their own way is a superb creation. Who can forget Mr. Collins' obsequiousness, Mrs. Elton's presumptions of superiority, or Sir Walter Elliot's vanity and pride? There are others equally outstanding, but we had to settle on two. This week we ask you: Which Jane Austen character is more comical? Mrs. Bennet or Mr. Woodhouse?
Comical Character

Mrs. Bennet, Pride and Prejudice

Mrs. Bennet's artless pronouncements made both Lizzy and Darcy squirm, but for different reasons. Darcy, because he did not suffer fools gladly, and Lizzy from sheer mortification, as in this instance: "When you have killed all your own birds, Mr. Bingley," said her mother, "I beg you will come here, and shoot as many as you please on Mr. Bennet's manor. I am sure he will be vastly happy to oblige you, and will save all the best of the covies for you." Mrs. Bennett, once a pretty young girl, has long ago lost her husband's respect for her lack of intellect or sense. Intent on getting her five daughters married, she is more concerned about their security than their happiness, yet her silly behavior often undermines their chances for marriage. Her presence enlivens any scene she is in, especially when she gets the vapors or when her jealousy of Charlotte Lucas's marriage to Mr. Collins brings out her mean streak, egged on by Lady Lucas's crowing. "A week elapsed before she could see Elizabeth without scolding her, a month passed away before she could speak to Sir William or Lady Lucas without being rude, and many months were gone before she could at all forgive their daughter."

Mr. Woodhouse, Emma

A masterful comic character, Mr. Woodhouse is seriously against change and overly preoccupied with everyone's health, including his own. Jane Austen describes him best: "Upon such occasions poor Mr. Woodhouses feelings were in sad warfare. He loved to have the cloth laid, because it had been the fashion of his youth; but his conviction of suppers being very unwholesome made him rather sorry to see any thing put on it; and while his hospitality would have welcomed his visitors to every thing, his care for their health made him grieve that they would eat. Such another small basin of thin gruel as his own, was all that he could, with thorough self-approbation, recommend, though he might constrain himself, while the ladies were comfortably clearing the nicer things, to say: "Mrs. Bates, let me propose your venturing on one of these eggs. An egg boiled very soft is not unwholesome. Serle understands boiling an egg better than any body. I would not recommend an egg boiled by any body else—but you need not be afraid—they are very small, you see—one of our small eggs will not hurt you. Miss Bates, let Emma help you to a little bit of tart—a very little bit. Ours are all apple tarts. You need not be afraid of unwholesome preserves here. I do not advise the custard. Mrs. Goddard, what say you to half a glass of wine? A small half glass—put into a tumbler of water? I do not think it could disagree with you."

3 comments:

MARIA GRAZIA said...

I've always found Mr Elton and Mr Collins quite comical ...

Lynn said...

Both of these characters are pretty eccentric, worrisome and annoying but their motives in all they say and do are for the benefit not only themselves but of others well being also.

I must give the edge in this throwdown to Mrs. Bennet because she can be downright disagreeable and embarrassing, whereas Mr. Woodhouse causes little offense and can be kind of endearing too.

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