I now direct you to two men of the cloth. Oh, you’ve already told me that you found Mr. Collins less tolerable than Mr. Elton, but which of the following two men could possibly win a place in your heart? I have deliberately not included the charming Mr. Henry Tilney. After all, this should be a contest, not a runaway race. So, which of these two men of the cloth could win a place in your heart? Mr. Edward Ferrars or Mr. Edmund Bertram?
Favorite Man of the Cloth
Mr. Edward Ferrars, Sense and Sensibility
He’s not particularly handsome, according to Jane Austen. Shy, short, introverted, earnest, and kind, Edward falls in love with Elinor Dashwood while he is engaged to Lucy Steele. A man of his word, he honors his commitment to Lucy. When Miss Steele breaks off their engagement, Edward is finally free to pursue Elinor. As Deirdre Le Faye remarks in her book, Jane Austen: The World of Her Novels: “Poor Edward is so accustomed to being bullied and derided by his unpleasant family that very probably he will be quite happy to let Elinor run his life for him – though in a much kindlier way. “
Mr. Edmund Bertram, Mansfield Park
As a second son, Edmund Bertram will not become heir to Mansfield Park and is destined for a clergyman's position. Edmund is the only one of the Bertrams' children to show kindness to Fanny when she arrives as a child, and they become and remain close friends. He has a good heart and is loyal and kind, but his judgment is suspect when he falls hard for Mary Crawford. Like Edward Ferrars, he lacks a sense of humor and doesn’t know how to flirt. One senses that this serious young man is truly religious and that he is horrified by Mary’s suggestion that he give up his calling.