Sense and Sensibility Sense and Sensibility discussion

Most detestable character

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Jennifer I thought that some of the characters in this novel were quite evil in comparison to the characters in both Pride and Prejudice and Emma. I was wondering what everyone else thinks and what characters they think are particularly evil or detestable in this Jane Austin novel.

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Lucy Steele.

Jennifer Thanks. I thought so too. She was even worse than Willoughby in my opinion.

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Jennifer wrote: "Thanks. I thought so too. She was even worse than Willoughby in my opinion."
Mine too, obviously.

Jeni Lucy Steele and Edward's sister. I find myself actually scolding them aloud as I read.

Kathy I would agree that Lucy Steele was horrible. Edward's sister was a horrible snob; thought herself above others.

Willoughby. Well what he did was terrible all right, but he was weak. (I would imagine to many that is no excuse, but he did not display the malice that Lucy Steele did.)

Angela Mr and Mrs John Dashwood! So mean!

Nicole D. Willoughby,Mrs.Fanny Dashwood,Mrs.Dashwood,and Lucy Steele are the worst.I think they were all horriable.But my most hated characters form JA come for her novel Mansfield Park.

Angela I wonder if Willoughby was a sociopath?
While I didnt like Lucy Steele I could kind of understand her predicament. She had no money, no real talents, little education. She really had to make the most of what she did have within the confines of her class.

Kathy Angela, hard to tell really about Willoughby. He certainly displayed passion, but don't think it was ever love. Then that last nostalgic regret from atop a white horse!! Well, he was the heir and that was what he desired most. But now he had that, and of course he was still tied up because his aunt was not dead, he was still not free. Just one of those men that wants what he can't have, but not what he has?

I have trouble feeling any sympathy for Lucy Steele as she seemed to so relish her "confessions" and her revelations. Got real joy from hurting others, or so it seemed to me.

It seems we could say that most women of these times, faced with a situation where they had no money, no education and no talent, might seek any avenue. Not sure what I would have done under these circumstances. It was a time where women were either taken over by men one way (through marriage) or another (through unsavory means). I suppose there was the governess or companion role for a well-born woman, but there are only so many positions available. Naturally a woman would want to be married to someone she saw as being wealthy. But she dumped him when she found he had been disinherited.

And Nicole, yes there were bad people in Sense and Sensibility but I would agree that the characters in Mansfield Park were really horrible. The father and eldest son were actually pure evil. But there were others. Perhaps this can be the next discussion piece after the topic of Sense and Sensibility is exhausted.

Morgan Willoughby was the worst

Vicky Deco The worst character for me is Mr Dashwood. He has no will, fooled around by his bitchy wife, breaks the promise made to his dying father and has no pity for his half sisters.

Willoughby is in desperate need of money, he can have love or he can have money: he chooses money. In those times, what could he have been giving to Marianne? Nothing, so I don' t feel like hating him so much.

I hate a little bit Edward for not standing for Elinor until the end...

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C.P. Lesley Outlier view: I think Brandon's father is the most heartless character in the book. He abandons his adopted daughter rather than tolerate his son's marriage to her.

But Fanny Dashwood is certainly a close second.

Kathy Vittoria - In these times certainly Willoughby and Marianne would have lived very frugally for sure. And it may be that their relationship would have suffered. Certainly if they were real people living in the real world that might have happened.

And it was such a happy ending even though everyone had to go through so much. Marianne realized what she had all along.

I remember thinking initially that these were all weak characters and they should just speak up for themselves. The times were so very different though. There was this book of rules, and if a person was a true lady or gentleman they did not violate the rules. So Edward kept having these stumbling blocks. And he could not just say what they were as those would be violations of etiquette as well!!!

What I find interesting is that Janet Austin puts her characters through some real hurdles. We can read the struggle on the pages. Some come out improved and their endings are usually happier. Those that come out the same or worse, well they don't really know they have come out the worse as they are too self-centered to get it.

Vicky Deco @Kathy, you' re right. I totally agree with your analysis: "What I find interesting is that Jane Austin puts her characters through some real hurdles..." I do, too, and I find really modern and surprisingly smart of her, a single woman back then, with no real possibility of travel or see different things and people and in the same time understanding the world around her with such clarity.

It' s true Edward is understandable , and justified, following those rules makes him a good, honest, reliable man, but he' s not particularly manly (I hate the word, but I have no better) as other Jane's characters. That' s probably why I don' t like , or understand, him so much.

Nouran Gamal mr & mrs. dashwood hands down. so evil and greedy and mean. willoughby is the kind of villian you can't help but love, i personally like him a lot and i think austen did too, that's why she tried to give him excuses and make the other characters forgive him. he's too yummy to hate, childish and impulsive may be and that's his guilt, but so was marianne, the difference is that she's a female (devoted & sacrificing by nature) and he's a male (cheater by nature :) lol anyway, mr. & mrs. dashwood were the worst characters ever!

edward was not a mean or evil character but was indeed boring, (i only love him because i picture him as hugh grant)

Kathy Nouran, it seems to me that some of the biggest villains in literature were yummy. Probably if they had looked like toads these poor women who fell victim to them would not have been attracted.

No matter what era a book portrays, there are always women who end up falling in love with men who are handsome and apparently charming. Sometimes the character is real and they live happily after.

Sometimes the woman is as foolish as Marianne and ends up getting hurt. Usually there is a nice guy who has been standing by and now helps her get through. (Does not mean the nice guy has to look like a toad.)

I liked Marianne mostly, but I was very angry when she unloaded on her sister and was so very cruel. She was so selfish that it did not even occur to her others could also be in pain.

It seems like Jane Austin is great at writing these characters like Mr. and Mrs. Dashwood. All wrapped up in class and socializing with important people (rich and with titles) that they simply don't see the beauty that is all around them.

Sometimes she even combines characteristics like she did with the "first" Emma who always thought her choices were the best, to the "second" Emma who woke up and realized what was important. (Know we are not talking about Emma so enough of that.) At least for the adults that she writes about, it is like a reawakening. For Marianne it was growing up. But she had to go through quite a bit to get there.

Rebecca May I truly can't decide between Willoughby, Lucy and Fanny!

I think I may have to say Willougby - he behaved the worst, getting one girl pregnant and abandoning her, breaking another girls heart for money, and then turning up drunk at said girls house when she is sick and he is engaged.

But I must say, Lucy does come quite close - such a shallow, awful, malicious girl!

And Fanny, of course, was horrible, but I think the reason I wouldn't choose her is because I think while Willougby and Lucy were completely aware of how awful their actions were, I think Fanny perhaps did not realize (in some cases) how detestable her actions made her to the characters and to us.

johanna Probably Lucy Steele.

Marigold Caroline Bingley
Mary and Henry Crawford_ conniving social climbers

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Lucy Steele hands down is the most detestable of the lot.

Cheree Fanny Dashwood. Seriously, what kind of messed up sister/daughter-in-law tries to talk their husband out of fulfilling his father's death wish for him to take care of his half siblings and mother? At least you could say the other detestable characters in the book suffered from mild to severe personality flaws. She is simply a cold-hearted witch. I wanted so bad to jump in the book and slap her and her husband silly.

Kathy Cheree wrote: "Fanny Dashwood. Seriously, what kind of messed up sister/daughter-in-law tries to talk their husband out of fulfilling his father's death wish for him to take care of his half siblings and mother? ..."

I suppose if there are to be good people in any story, there have to be those that are, on sliding scales, not that good. I think I just saw Fanny as vapid and selfish. But your read is certainly true. She was pretty nasty and instead of just sitting around being silently malignant, she did some real damage.

It was really Lucy Steele that my vote went to and then on to Willoughby. While I agree with several forum members that Willoughby was just your typical stereotype of a cad and bounder, a young woman could be counted on then, as is often today, to fall madly in love with just this type. And they don't walk around unaware of their charms and therefore blameless. He was not, clearly, openly evil though like Fanny, or even Caroline Bingley.

However, I still have to stick with Lucy Steele as she was very much aware of how much pain she was inflicting and did it anyway. It is just a good thing that Jane Austin figured out a way to write her character to jump from the now poor brother to the rich one because in those days a gentleman did not break off engagements. It had to be the woman's decision.

I think that is one of Austin's most remarkable talents; her ability to build characters and keep them alive and interesting throughout.

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Mary Todd Mr. Dashwood and his classic b%@ of a wife. Willoughby never promised anyone anything he was simply a social climber that married for money which was not uncommon. He didn't promise Marianne anything.

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Opal Mr and Mrs Dashwood. They misled a family and broke a man's dying wish. Despicable! If it weren't for them, Marianne and the others wouldn't have been in such dire straits.

Marren Mrs Fanny Dashwood. If I can enter the book and smack her I would. urghhh!

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Faye I would have to say both John and Fanny Dashwood. If he had stood up to his selfish, conniving wife and had done the right thing, many of the pitfalls that affected the Dashwood ladies would have been prevented (although we wouldn't have a story). John was weak and selfish, Fanny was strong and unfeeling except to her own wants. Unfortunately, I know a real-life couple just like them. Ms. Austen hit the nail on the head and is truly timeless in her characterizations.

Silvanty Nova Willoughby, Lucy Steel, Fanny Dashwood, John Dashwood, Mrs. Ferrars. Found many of them in the real world. Two thumbs up for Jane Austen.

Maricela Mrs Fanny Dashwood, she is bad and selfish, and Willoughby is equals.

Coralie Ooooooo! Tough one! Jane Austen is so good at baddies!
Hmmmmmm? Lucy Steele? John/Fanny Dashwood? NO!!! Got it! For me it's got to be Mrs Augusta Elton, with her 'caro sposo' and her donkey and picnic basket, and her 'Knightly' etc. Soooooo bad she makes me laugh out loud!

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Coralie wrote: "Ooooooo! Tough one! Jane Austen is so good at baddies!
Hmmmmmm? Lucy Steele? John/Fanny Dashwood? NO!!! Got it! For me it's got to be Mrs Augusta Elton, with her 'caro sposo' and her donkey and pi..."

Um, that's Emma. This is Sense and Sensibility.

message 32: by Coralie (last edited Jan 16, 2013 08:59AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Coralie Yep. I know it's Emma but I thought we were talking about the most detestable character in all the novels (?) not just Sense and Sensibility.
Coming to think of it Lady Catherine is pretty awful too. (Yes, Brooke I know that's Pride and Prejudice)
If we are just going with S&S what about Lady Middleton? She's far less obvious but none the less a cold hearted, selfish social climber...

message 33: by Annemarie (last edited Jan 16, 2013 01:25PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Annemarie Donahue I know this is for SS, but I see other people writing about Emma and PP.

Mr. Tinley, the father, in Northanger Abbey. He threw her out of the house, with no servant to escort her, with no money, in the middle of the night to make her way home (a trip of half a day) all because he found out that she wasn't as rich as a rumor her over-heard implied she was! D-bag!

Inside the book this was regarded as a slight, and was a plot device to show that Catherine understood that being in an adventure and a gothic romance is no where near as fun as reading about them. But outside the book this was a horrific move. She had to travel through major cities, changing carriages at night. She could have been abducted, raped and murderes. I know I'm taking it seriously, but I will always hate that man for such a careless and cruel action to a girl only 18!

Captain Tilney is a masher too!

Coralie Agreed!

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Anne Becca wrote: "I truly can't decide between Willoughby, Lucy and Fanny!

I think I may have to say Willougby - he behaved the worst, getting one girl pregnant and abandoning her, breaking another girls heart for ..."

Totally agree!

message 36: by kellyjane (last edited Jan 31, 2013 04:55PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

kellyjane In S&S, Willoughby was the worst of the characters in my estimation. The story takes place at a time when distinguishing someone of the opposite sex with particular attentions or encouragements was considered tantamount to a pre-engagement. Propriety dictated that men should take care not to raise the hopes of any woman for whom they had not serious intentions, and that women should take care not to allow or encourage such particular attentions unless they were receptive to a proposal.

It was especially inconsiderate, perhaps even cruelly so, for a man to mislead a woman into such an artificial 'security'-- for her business was to find an acceptable mate on pain of a lifetime of otherwise impoverished dependence and subtle social censure and derision; her chances for doing so were thought to fade the older that she grew beyond, say, the age of twenty-one; and every bit of time and energy put into a false possibility, was a significant kind of squandering during what were considered a woman's best years for finding a mate, as well as a serious discouragement of other potential suitors.

And Willoughby knew all of this, but did not care, placing the pettiness of his own vanity above any real consideration for Marianne's situation, naivete, disposition, or the possibly long-lasting implications for her well-being through the whole rest of her life. And this after he abandoned a girl whose reputation and circumstances he brought to ruin, leaving her alone and socially outcast with a child that she had no means to raise!

Selfish to the very end, forcing his explanation upon Elinor regardless of her wishes, and regretting only that his choice of wife did not answer all of his desires, Willougby never repented his trifling with the psychological and material welfare of others. For all of his charm, intelligence, and ability to please, he left a stream of broken or unhappy lives in his wake, including that of his wife whom he neither liked, respected, nor even bothered to refer to in commonly respectable terms.

It was Willoghby, darn it, it was Willoughby! (Or maybe Mrs. Ferrars, or Fanny Dashwood, or ... no, Willoughby, I'm sure now ...)

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Sesh For me it's Willoghby. And also Fanny Farras Dashwood, a mean woman. Auten has presented the others as likable characters, according to me.

Anoop Willoughby is not my favorite either

Sophie Mrs Dashwood annoyed me utterly - I wanted to hit her! Also Lucy Steele was rather horrible.

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Willoughby. I disliked Lucy, but detested Willoughby with a burning passion.

Julian Griffith Mrs. John Dashwood. She was greedy and manipulative and KNEW she was screwing Elinor and Marianne and Margaret and their mother out of desperately needed money that she would have still been very comfortable without.

Willoughby next, as I don't approve of seducing and abandoning young girls (Eliza, not Marianne, who was unhappy but not ruined).

Yasmijn Mrs John Dashwood because she's so damn manipulative and cold, Mr John Dashwood because he's so easily manipulated and only thinking about money and Lucy Steele because of obvious reasons! Gah!

Annie Mrs. John Dashwood or Willoughby. They both are pretty bad.

Janet Definately Willoughby. His total selfishness and lack of regard for the welfare of the young women he seduces is evil. He brings social outcast and ruin upon 1 young lady and very nearly to Marianne. Lucy Steel and Mrs. John Dashwood follow in their manipulative and petty shallowness.

Shelley That horrible horrible horrible old witch who's so mean to helpless Fanny.

Rain, A Dust Bowl Story

Regil Fanny and her mother...dreadful character.

Holly Fairall (birdbrainbooks) Angela wrote: "I wonder if Willoughby was a sociopath?
While I didnt like Lucy Steele I could kind of understand her predicament. She had no money, no real talents, little education. She really had to make the mo..."

The fact that he came to Elinor to explain himself when Marianne when she was sick, and felt sorry at all, means he wasn't a sociopath. A selfish asshole, but not a sociopath. But if you're interested in this kind of thing, you should definitely check out books like "The Psychopath Test" and "The Sociopath Next Door" !

Holly Fairall (birdbrainbooks) I could almost not excuse, but accept how Willoughby treated Marianne, knowing that he was a selfish, money-greedy person and realizing that he never did propose, Marianne just assumed; however, his behavior towards Brandon's ward was truly despicable. If you think about that, and how he left her without knowing where he was or how to reach her--in the book, he mentions during his "confession" to Elinor, in passing, that he didn't realize she didn't have his information. That has got to be the lamest most ridiculous excuse in the book/ever. And it doesn't change the fact that he abandoned her to begin with, after very knowingly "ruining" her in the eyes of society. Knowing that that is what he came from, to fall in love with Marianne, really dirties his relationship w Marianne in my opinion. In that confession, he makes excuses for his behavior to Marianne, but doesn't say much at all to explain away his relationship and treatment of Brandon's ward.

Lucy Steele is just THAT girl that you hate, always. Manipulative person who makes herself agreeable enough that people without good sense of character all fall for it.

Janice Acosta Fanny Dashwood, hands down... and of course her mother.

message 50: by Sorrel (last edited Apr 20, 2014 03:00AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sorrel I feel quite alone in saying that for me it was undoubtedly Marianne. I'm not saying that she was the most sort of... evil character in the book because she wasn't by any measure. However the question asked for the most detestable and she was the one I really disliked the most, throughout the whole book I found myself just hating her.
The way she accuses Elinor of being happy just disgusted me. Yes Elinor was good at hiding her emotions but to do that whole "I have it worse than you poor me!" act, I just find really repelling. And her months of wallowing about Willoughby. I hate to say it because I don't especially like the reserve and bottling up that Elinor forced upon herself, but I wish she'd taken Elinor's example and stopped her self-indulgent wallowing if not for the fact that you shouldn't let someone who has done so wrong by you to get so in the way of your life, for the feelings of those around her. He broke her heart, I can understand that but to let that get in the way of every second of your life leaving you uncaring to everyone around you... urgh.
Even at the start I didn't really like her and the way she seemed unable to accept other people's opinions or views if they were different from her own. I remember the bit where she and Willoughby were sniggering about the people they were in the company of and making fun of everyone they deemed in want of taste. Such intolerance I just could not accept.
But after her it would have to be Fanny/Lucy?willoughby. I didn't hate Mr Dashwood as much as other people here because I thought he was a little bit less unfeeling and vicious as his wife.

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