Melanie Schertz is a retired crime scene/lab technician who now spends time reading Pride and Prejudice variations, making jewelry, and most importantly, spending time with her children and grandchildren, as well as her dog, Mr Darcy, and her cat, Lizzy. Mr Darcy is being trained as a mobility assistance service dog.
The Good, The Bad, and the Really Disturbing
By Melanie Schertz
It is easy to see the villains in most of Austen’s stories. Many of them are so obvious, it is almost like a neon light above their heads which reads “BAD NEWS”.
We look at Willoughby in Sense and Sensibility. He is the sort to live in the moment, have all the fun he can, and place blame on everyone but himself. He got a girl pregnant, and rather than admit he made a mistake, he blames his sudden removal from Marianne to be due to his aunt’s decision to bless someone else with the living he thought he would inherit. He placed Marianne’s reputation in jeopardy due to his “party boy” behavior, with no concern for her, which is clear when he runs off, not explaining anything to her. Had he told her that he could not marry her, due to financial difficulties, and that he had to marry someone else for wealth, Marianne would have been able to move forward. But then he would have had to deal with reality. And reality is not fun at times. He is sort of an obvious bad guy who is so good, you love to hate him.
In Persuasion, there are so many “bad guys”, mainly in Anne Elliot’s family and her mother’s friend, Lady Russell. They place Anne in a position of inferiority, and demand that she must wait on them and take care of their needs above her own. I, for one, wanted to smack Anne’s father and her sisters, especially Mary. Boo hoo, pity party, when their bad behavior is what put them into the position which Anne was expected to fix for them. No one in her family wants Anne to find a life of her own, and especially do not want her to be happy. If Anne were happily married and living her own life, it would take away from what she could do for them. And Lady Russell is a snob, pure and simple.
Mansfield Park shows us the evil siblings who come to visit the neighborhood. My favorite part is when Mary Crawford blames Fanny Price for Mary’s brother, Henry, running off with Fanny’s married cousin, Maria Rushworth. According to Mary Crawford, had Fanny given Henry the encouragement he wanted, and accepted his offer of marriage, Henry would never have run off with a married woman. Yet he had had an ongoing “relationship” with Maria even before she married Mr Rushworth. The sort of young man he was, flirting with an engaged woman under the nose of her family and her intended, tells me that, even if Fanny had married him, Henry would not have kept himself faithful to her. But it is Fanny’s fault for not putting herself in such a marriage. I can understand that…NOT! Maria Rushworth and Henry Crawford deserve each other, leave Fanny alone.
And now, let’s look at my personal favorite, Pride and Prejudice. You have so many “baddies” to deal with in this story. You have the obvious baddies, such as Caroline Bingley, Mr Collins, and Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Then you have the sneaky baddie in George Wickham. Wickham, to me, is the sort who is most disturbing. He is a manipulator, cool and suave, knowing just how to turn someone’s opinion to his favor. He is the sort who could sell sand to a camel (or as I like to say, the stereotypical used car salesman). Wickham is able to use your feelings against you, and that is disturbing in my book. Mr Collins is obviously a stupid, greasy, toady, and we can’t help but hate him and his boot licking attitude. Lady Catherine is obnoxious and overbearing, and again, easy to dislike. And yes, Caroline Bingley is easy to dislike, yet, of the group, she is easy to understand, due to her mindset. It is easy to look at someone who, like many at the time in history, were looking to improve their lives and escape their lower beginnings. Who wouldn’t want security and respect? Caroline wanted both in the package of Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy. And though I don’t like her, I can understand why she can be a baddie.
So, out of all the baddies I have listed, I would have to give the April Fools award for most disturbing and devious baddie would have to go to…. (drumroll please)… George Wickham. His prize is a one way trip to France during the war (Australia is too good for him).