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General Discussion > Worst Villain

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message 1: by Kim (new)

Kim | 181 comments I think this is the right place to start this....We brought up the idea on another thread to discuss who is the worst villain of all of Jane's novels. What do you all think? Who and why?


message 2: by VMom (new)

VMom (votermom) | 68 comments General Tilney!
And William Elliott, so cold and calculating. Likewise Elizabeth Elliott.


message 3: by Badlydone (new)

Badlydone Willoughby - a liar, rake and mercenary.


message 4: by Kim (new)

Kim | 181 comments I'm stuck between Wickham, General Tilney, John Thorpe, and Lady Catherine De Bourgh. All horrid horrid characters.


message 5: by Usako (new)

Usako (bbmeltdown) | 226 comments The worst villain of all has to be William Collins. The bumbler couldn't make any calculated move without it being due to what his advantageous patronage, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, told him to do!

That said the best villain is Lady Catherine. So got it in the end though.


message 6: by Lindz (new)

Lindz (miss_bovary00) Lady Susan. She is fantastic. Moving on her best friend's husband, then her daughter's potential man (sorry tired couldn't think of better word). It is only a short work, and not as well known but if you get a chance read it. Very good!!!


message 7: by Shayne (new)

Shayne | 49 comments William Elliot for me, for the sheer number of his wickednesses. "Oh! he is black at heart; hollow and black!" as poor Mrs Smith says.

He married a woman far below him in class, and married her solely for her fortune. That makes him no worse than many other men in literature of the period, but "He was very unkind" to this poor woman - I think this hints at quite severe cruelty.

And then there's his treatment of Mrs Smith. He's executor of Mr Smith's will, but because he won't trouble himself to do anything about it, Mrs S. is surviving in a parlous state. He and Mr Smith had been great friends while Mr S. was wealthier than him, but Mr E. obviously feels no loyalty or even sense of duty.

After that villainy, his eagerness to gain the baronetcy and Anne's hand, with his manipulation and deceit towards all parties, almost pale into insignificance.


message 8: by VMom (new)

VMom (votermom) | 68 comments Shayne wrote: "William Elliot for me, for the sheer number of his wickednesses. "Oh! he is black at heart; hollow and black!" as poor Mrs Smith says. "

A thorough blackguard.


message 9: by Joy (new)

Joy (joylnorth) I agree - Mr. Elliot's cold calculations make him much worse than the other rakes.


message 10: by [deleted user] (new)

Check out the 3 new polls I put up for just this topic.


message 11: by Shaun (new)

Shaun | 123 comments I would have to say Lady Catherine is the villain that you love to hate. She's so mean, but it's so delicious! I wonder if modern day soap villains are fashioned after her! Although I would have to say General Tilney was the most rude for throwing Catherine out!


message 12: by Rachel, The Honorable Miss Moderator (last edited Mar 09, 2010 03:53PM) (new)

Rachel (randhrshipper1) | 674 comments Mod
Excellent topic! I agree with many of the others here-- it's a tie between...

William Elliot-- truly devoid of morals

Lady Catherine de Bourgh-- does the word snob mean anything to you?


message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

I hope you all voted. I'll report the results in a little while!


message 14: by Dhara (new)

Dhara Mehta (tulsitree) | 23 comments John Thrope, how crude his language is...


Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) I think William Elliot is the worst. He's dangerously evil, whilst most of the rest are really immature rakes. Rachel, above, has the right of it -- Wm. Elliot is "devoid of morals," and probably psychopathic to boot. Henry Crawford, with a few more years of 'experience' might attain the level of William Elliot. Finally, Mr. Collins is more of a bungling, odious, and incredibly insecure little man.


message 16: by SarahC, Austen Votary & Mods' Asst. (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1473 comments Mod
Tell more about your thoughts about William being psychopathic? Because he was sort of stalking Anne?


Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.) (captain_sir_roddy) Sarah wrote: "Tell more about your thoughts about William being psychopathic? Because he was sort of stalking Anne?"

Sarah, my comment stems from Austen's portrayal of Wm. as nothing more than trying to leach himself back into Sir Walter's good graces to more easily assume the mantle of Baronet; prevent Sir Walter from begetting any male heirs; and, if possible, tie himself to Anne for long-term financial security (Maybe not so much for money, but Kellynch Hall and its properties). That and what he did to that poor husband of Mrs. Smith, Maybe psychopathic is not quite what I am looking for -- maybe sociopathic is better. The man obviously doesn't give a fig for anyone's feelings, but his own. Just my two-pence! Cheers!


message 18: by Badlydone (new)

Badlydone Here's my two cents on why I chose Willoughby:

Willoughby seduces three women both to satisfy his ego and for money. He impregnates Eliza Brandon and does not give it a thought. He flirts with Marianne very openly, leads her on, and engages in very insensitive behaviors which could have hurt Marianne's position in society (wanting to give her a horse, writing letters to her, riding with her to his aunt's manor etc.). He lies without any qualms whatsoever, uses his charm to satisfy his ends. He is a bit of a sociopath too.

The only redeeming factor is that he expresses some regret at the very end, but some of that may be to satisfy his conscience as he thinks that Marianne is dying. In that respect, George Wickham bests him as Wickham shows no regret whatsoever for his actions.

Mr. Elliott is pretty awful too. This is completely irrational, but I associate him with Tobias Menzies (who played Elliott in Persuasion 2007), and I like Tobias very much!


message 19: by Usako (new)

Usako (bbmeltdown) | 226 comments If Willoughby was a modern day character, I'd compare him to the boys in high school who'll do or say anything for that "chance" in the back seat. He wants all the cake. In the end, he has no sweet cake but a dry crusted piece of fruitcake that nobody wants except to give during the holidays solely to be polite and traditional. :P


message 20: by VMom (new)

VMom (votermom) | 68 comments Christopher wrote: "Maybe psychopathic is not quite what I am looking for -- maybe sociopathic is better. "

I agree. I get that same vibe from William Elliott. Very amoral and ambitious (dangerous combination) will stop at nothing to get what he wants. He has a criminal mind.

Willoughby & Wickam, by contrast, are simply opportunistic cads. Horrible people, but by the standards of their day, not that unusual. It was typical to put all the burden of "virtue" on a woman -- a woman can be ruined and it's always her won fault for having loose morals, but society won't censure the man because "boys will be boys."

Tanja, lol at the dry crusted fruitcake image. :)


message 21: by Usako (new)

Usako (bbmeltdown) | 226 comments The men are rakes! But Crawford, oh he and his sister are down right nasty! Perhaps Crawford turned over a new leaf buuuuut I did not like how the two planned their "attacks" on the poor family :(

Boys will be boys mentality still exists today. Women are taught to be a little more reserved with our feeligns, just in case we are ruined. So as a young teen, I got very upset when reading S&S! Makes you want to grab a riding crop and whip those nasty men :P


message 22: by SarahC, Austen Votary & Mods' Asst. (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1473 comments Mod
Badlydone wrote: "Here's my two cents on why I chose Willoughby:

Willoughby seduces three women both to satisfy his ego and for money. He impregnates Eliza Brandon and does not give it a thought. He flirts with M..."


That is funny because I associate Elliot with the actor who played him in the Amanda Root move version. Those actors must have captured the essence to some extent. When Chris wrote that Elliot was a psychopath, I immediate thought of a certain look that actor had on his face in the Amanda Root movie!

The comments on the villains are very interesting and it really brings back to me that Austen knew what people are capable of. I think she portrayed realistic villains -- not just a character to fill space because you should have a villain somewhere in your story. I probably haven't thought about this element to her writing very much. These finely crafted villains make her stories so well-balanced. Especially those charming men ( I always think Greg Wise as Willoughby too!) who are so manipulative.

And also I did want to say that I agree with Chris about Elliot. He leaves people in his dust and doesn't look back and continues on his path of conquest. He is one of those characters that must have missing pieces -- a void where compassion or honor should be. And then, him contrasted against Wentworth makes a great story. If Wentworth had been a different type of person, he could have come back into Anne's life and been manipulative to her also. He is just made of different stuff. Or Mr. Knightley in Emma. His funds were low, he could have been out searching to marry into a titled or rich family and causing havoc. You know? Am I going on too much here? :-)


message 23: by SarahC, Austen Votary & Mods' Asst. (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1473 comments Mod
Yes I like a lot of your terminology here, including the dry fruitcake!

And this is a *******************Spoiler***************
if you haven't read Sense & Sensi. BEWARE

Does Willoughby get any points for coming back and making a confession of sorts to Elinor?


message 24: by Veronica (new)

Veronica Wickham. He is a liar and a cheater.


message 25: by Joy (new)

Joy (joylnorth) Sarah wrote: "Especially those charming men ( I always think Greg Wise as Willoughby too!) who are so manipulative. ..."

Greg Wise is Willoughby for me! He has the ability to capture that special Willoughby vibe that makes you want to slap him but then swoon...


message 26: by Badlydone (new)

Badlydone Sarah wrote: "Yes I like a lot of your terminology here, including the dry fruitcake!

And this is a *******************Spoiler***************
if you haven't read Sense & Sensi. BEWARE

Does Willoughby get any ..."


Yes, he does for me - although as I mentioned earlier, that confession may have happened because he believed that Marianne was dying. I do believe that there was some degree of sincerity involved though.

Greg Wise and Dominic Cooper both made good Willoughbys. Its interesting how one tends to picture these actors when one thinks of the characters. Makes me wonder how I imagined these characters before before I watched the adaptations - I really don't recall now!


message 27: by J. (new)

J. Rubino (jrubino) | 200 comments I think William Elliot, Wickham and Willoughby are all cut from the same mold - they are all amoral gold diggers and seducers. Willoughby comes off worse IMHO, because we see first-hand the emotional devastation he causes when he jilts Marianne, and, by way of Brandon, we have an image of the state in which he left Eliza. We have a sense that Wickham, married to Lydia, and Elliot, running off with Mrs. Clay, were compelled to endure something of penance.
I also think that Lucy Steele, for sheer malice, is an underrated villain.
A few months ago, we wrote a guest blog about "Why We Love Jane Austen", and we particularly addressed Willoughby's conduct, and why it's particularly bad. Here's a link if you would like to read it.
http://historicaltapestry.blogspot.co...


message 28: by Badlydone (new)

Badlydone J. wrote: "I think William Elliot, Wickham and Willoughby are all cut from the same mold - they are all amoral gold diggers and seducers. Willoughby comes off worse IMHO, because we see first-hand the emotion..."

Very nice analyses, and a great blog! Not sure how to become a follower through Google connect though.


message 29: by Shayne (new)

Shayne | 49 comments Lovely blog post, J.!

Willoughby makes me fume with his dismissive attitude to poor, ruined Eliza. He seems to feel no sense of guilt for having blighted the life of this girl, and (my keyboard begins to steam as I write this) thinks she's not good enough for him! Good enough to deflower and to get with child, but not good enough to marry. Grr!

And I see more of self-pity than self-recrimination in his speech to Elinor. Self-pity because he's married a woman he doesn't particularly care for, instead of the warm and lovely Marianne.


message 30: by Shayne (new)

Shayne | 49 comments Christopher wrote: "Maybe psychopathic is not quite what I am looking for -- maybe sociopathic is better. The man obviously doesn't give a fig for anyone's feelings, but his own."

I think sociopath is a good description of Mr Elliot, Christopher. He appears to have an utter lack of concern for others. He and the Smiths were friends for years, and Mr Smith helped him out financially to his own detriment, and yet he won't put himself to the slightest effort to look into her estate even though he was made executor. I think he has two character flaws that Austen regarded as particularly bad: undutifulness and ingratitude.


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