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Sunday, August 8

Jane Austen Character Throwdown: Two Villains

In the past we have asked you to vote on various aspects of Jane Austen villains, and this week is no exception. Two of Jane Austen heroines found something wanting in these men. Which villain's public persona is worse in your estimation? William Elliot's super polite facade to the world, which Anne Elliot suspects because of his unwillingness to share his true feelings, or John Willoughby's effusive likes and dislikes, which gain Elinor Dashwood's notice?

I dislike this villain's character more:

William Elliot (Samuel West), Persuasion

After a short acquaintance, Anne Elliot begins to find Mr. Elliot's unvarying affability a bit unsettling:

Mr. Elliot was rational, discreet, polished,--but he was not open. There was never any burst of feeling, any warmth of indignation or delight, at the evil or good of others. This, to Anne, was a decided imperfection. Her early impressions were incurable. She prized the frank, the open-hearted, the eager character beyond all others. Warmth and enthusiasm did captivate her still. She felt that she could so much more depend upon the sincerity of those who sometimes looked or said a careless or a hasty thing, than of those whose presence of mind never varied, whose tongue never slipped.

Mr. Elliot was too generally agreeable. Various as were the tempers in her father's house, he pleased them all. He endured too well,--stood too well with everybody. He had spoken to her with some degree of openness of Mrs. Clay; had appeared completely to see what Mrs. Clay was about, and to hold her in contempt; and yet Mrs. Clay found him as agreeable as anybody.

John Willoughby (Dominic Cooper), Sense and Sensibility

Early in their acquaintance, Elinor begins to see cracks in John Willoughby's character, as in this instance when she, Marianne, and Willoughby discuss his observations of Colonel Brandon:

"Brandon is just the kind of man," said Willoughby one day, when they were talking of him together, "whom every body speaks well of, and nobody cares about; whom all are delighted to see, and nobody remembers to talk to."

"That is exactly what I think of him," cried Marianne.

"Do not boast of it, however," said Elinor, "for it is injustice in both of you. He is highly esteemed by all the family at the park, and I never see him myself without taking pains to converse with him."

"That he is patronised by YOU," replied Willoughby, "is certainly in his favour; but as for the esteem of the others, it is a reproach in itself. Who would submit to the indignity of being approved by such a woman as Lady Middleton and Mrs. Jennings, that could command the indifference of any body else?"

"But perhaps the abuse of such people as yourself and Marianne will make amends for the regard of Lady Middleton and her mother. If their praise is censure, your censure may be praise, for they are not more undiscerning, than you are prejudiced and unjust."

"In defence of your protege you can even be saucy."

"My protege, as you call him, is a sensible man; and sense will always have attractions for me. Yes, Marianne, even in a man between thirty and forty. He has seen a great deal of the world; has been abroad, has read, and has a thinking mind. I have found him capable of giving me much information on various subjects; and he has always answered my inquiries with readiness of good-breeding and good nature."

"That is to say," cried Marianne contemptuously, "he has told you, that in the East Indies the climate is hot, and the mosquitoes are troublesome."

"He WOULD have told me so, I doubt not, had I made any such inquiries, but they happened to be points on which I had been previously informed."

"Perhaps," said Willoughby, "his observations may have extended to the existence of nabobs, gold mohrs, and palanquins."

"I may venture to say that HIS observations have stretched much further than your candour. But why should you dislike him?" free polls
I dislike this villain's character more:
William Elliot, Persuasion John Willoughby, Sense and Sensibility


Meredith R. said...

I've always had trouble with people who hide their feelings to your face and who think, say and do something entirely different behind your back, so I voted for William Elliot.

Southerner said...

Both as bad as each other.It's a draw!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Nonna Beach said...

They are both bad ! Willoughby is a cad because he toys with and hurts Marianne deeply,and then, secures an heiress as dictated by his family.

Elliot is easily discovered to be doing just what an heir to an estate and title would his position by marrying one of the eligible daughters. Unlike Willoughby, Elliott did not wound or break anyone's heart, so I must choose Willoughby.

Nonna Beach said...

I also dislike Willoughby as he berates Col. Brandon, who I just think is an excellent man !

Anonymous said...

William Elliot is the worst. He is a grown man, knowing what he the game he is playing. Willoughby is a boy and is foolish and immature as such, no where as cold and calculating as Elliot (give it a few years).

Alice said...

I choose Willoughby and I think Dominic Cooper was perfect to play that character!! (Excuse my English, I'm a poor little french girl)

felicitydeverell said...

I think Mr. Elliot was the worse man of the two. To apperances Willoughby seems worse because he actually uses Marianne badly while Mr. Elliot was never given the chance thanks to Annes good sense. But if she had married him she would have lead a more miserable life than Marianne ever did.