My sister and I both really like Emma 1996. Since she has blond hair about the same shade as Gweynth’s, she let me fuss with her and the result was Gwenyth Paltrow’s Emma II.
Do you think it a true likeness?
Just before I start this post I want to point out that some of theses villainesses aren’t really villainous – just irritating and/or vulgar. BTW, you should check out my Jane Austen heroes and villains post.
Sense and Sensibility
The Villainess: Lucy Steele is a true villainess. She heard Edward speak of Elinor with commendation and then forced the news of her engagement on poor Elinor and then gloats over her. Then, when Edward behaves so honourably towards her, she breaks the engagement and marries Robert for mercenary reasons. Lucy Steele is one of the meanest women Jane Austen created.
The Heroines: The Dashwood sisters are two of my favorite literary heroines. Marianne is passionate and romantic while Elinor is calm and cool-headed. The two sisters are as different as possible, but they have a very strong bond between them that no-one can break. Marianne shows her heroism by comforting and supporting her sister while Elinor must keep Lucy’s secret to herself and never breath a word of it to anyone while all the time her heart is breaking. The Dashwood sisters are true heroines.
Pride and Prejudice
The Villainesses: Louisa Hurst and Caroline Bingley are mean spirited – Caroline even more than her sister. Caroline is jealous of Lizzy because Mr. Darcy is interested in her. They pretend to be friends with Jane, and then meanly ‘cut’ her in London. And in the end, Caroline does not get her wish – to be mistress of Pemberly.
The Heroine: Elizabeth Bennet is one of the finest examples of a literary heroine. She sparkles with life and wit. She doesn’t stand in awe of Mr. Darcy, but rather argues with him and refuses his first proposal, which, in the eyes of society would be madness. She doesn’t conform to norm of marrying for money, but instead turns down two good offers of marriage.
The Villainess: Mary Crawford is something of an enigma. She witty, beautiful, charming – in short everything that one would want in a heroine. She would be a perfect heroine if she would not let her selfishness get in her way. She is kind to Fanny, likes Edmund, and is admired by all the Bertrams (is that a recommendation?). But she has corrupted morals which lead her into talking slightingly about Edmund’s decision to join the clergy, and blaming Fanny for Henry’s running off with Maria.
The Heroine: Fanny Price may be shy and timid, but she is not dull or boring. She stays firm when everyone pressures her to be in the play and in refusing Henry’s proposal. Fanny has a quiet, inner strength. While not as engaging as Mary Crawford, Fanny has many wonderful qualities.
The Villainess: Mrs. Elton isn’t really a villainess – she’s just vulgar and rude. She does influence Mr. Elton to snub Harriet, but that’s pretty much the extent of her villainy. Other than that, her greatest faults are calling her husband Mr. E and prosing on endlessly about Maple Grove.
The Heroine: Emma is my favorite Jane Austen heroine. She’s a bit of a snob but she’s kindhearted and always means well. Sometimes you get irritated with Emma’s meddling but you can’t help liking her despite her faults her faults.
The Villainess: Isabella Thorpe is very, very shallow and self-interested. I remember the first time I read NA I first thought that she was a good friend for Catherine, but as I got deeper in, I reversed my views. Isabella engages herself to James, flirts with Captain Tilney, and lies to Catherine. Not a very nice person.
The Heroine: Catherine Morland is a sweet girl. She is innocent and does not believe that Isabella could do any wrong. However, her eyes are opened when Isabella writes a letter full of lies and contradictions. She does not lie to Henry Tilney for her reason for being in his mother’s bedroom. Her worst fault is probably that she reads too many novels. 🙂
The Villainess: Elizabeth Elliot isn’t very much developed in Persuasion but we do know that she’s mean and rude to Anne.
The Heroine: Anne Elliot is probably one of the kindest heroines in literature. She doesn’t become angry with her father and sisters, even though they take unfair advantage of her. Anne stays true to Captain Wentworth even though it seems that he has no interest in her anymore.
Please tell me who your favorite heroines (and worst villainesses) are.
Miss Elizabeth Bennet from Elegance of Fashion is hosting a Period Drama Advice Event. This is the third letter and my answer. Let me know what you think.
Dear Period Drama Advice Column,
I received a proposal from a dear friend of mine, John Chivery. I refused him because I do not love him. I am very fond of John, but I could never feel that way about him. I wish I could; it distresses me to see him unhappy, but I can’t love him — not in that way, not to be his wife. I would rather stay and look after my father than marry someone I do not love. I hope he will find a good wife one day because he deserves one. I am in love with another man, Arthur Clennam, but he is in love with someone else who I don’t know. And now because I refused John, everybody is unhappy or angry with me. What should I do?
Dear Miss Dorrit,
Mother and I were so pleased to see your lovely letter in the newspaper’s advice column this morning. Mother was so pleased. She said “I never saw a better letter in my life.” And then I said, “But mother, remember Jane’s letters.” Jane’s letters are always so fine, you see. Speaking of Jane’s letters, she really ought to be writing this letter because her handwriting is so even – not unlike Miss Woodhouse’s handwriting. Sometimes Mother can read Jane’s handwriting, especially after kind Mr. Frank Churchill fixed her spectacles. They were quite good as new. And Mother can always hear Jane much better than she can hear me – Jane has such a clear voice…now where was I?
Oh, yes, your predicament. I really have no experience in such matters, having never been proposed to myself, but I will try as best I can. Jane really should have written this letter although I do not believe she has ever been proposed to. However, she is a young lady like yourself. And Miss Woodhouse would also be an excellent person to write to you. She has a great history of matchmaking – did you know that Mr. and Mrs. Weston were married because of her? But of course you couldn’t know, not having lived in Highbury…maybe you should visit us in Highbury.
I’m sure Miss Woodhouse could find you an excellent husband. But no, you don’t want to leave your poor father. Maybe I can persuade Miss Woodhouse to write and advise you. She is so kind – she sent us a beautiful hindquarter of pork the other day…Mother was quite enraptured and I was too of course. Dear me, how I ramble on so! It must be tiresome.
I will show Miss Woodhouse your letter as soon as possible and ask her if perhaps she could advise you. I am so pleased to be of service to you, Miss Dorrit.
Here are my answers to the tag questions I posted earlier this week.
What, to you, defines a Jane Austen heroine?
Miss Elizabeth Bennet wrote an excellent guest post on this subject. I would say that a sweet temper and a willingness to help others in need is one of the main characteristics of an Austen heroine.
Which Austen heroine is your favorite?
Emma Woodhouse. Even though she’s pretty irritating during the first part of the book, she is still my favorite. I enjoy watching her make mistakes, and then try to resolve them.
What is the quality you like best about her?
Despite being meddling, Emma has a kind heart. She is very kind to Harriet and after she snubs Miss Bates, tries hard to make things right.
Which actress plays your favorite best?
My favorite portrayal is Gwenyth’s but Romola Garia runs a close second. Romola seems a little too modern for my taste, while Gwenyth is perfect.
Who is your favorite secondary heroine, (e.g. Jane Bennet, Jane Fairfax, Mary Crawford)?
Which actress plays your favorite secondary heroine the best?
I prefer Rosamund Pike’s portrayal of Jane over Susannah Harker’s.
If you could have tea with a Jane Austen heroine or secondary heroine, who would you want to meet and why?
I think Fanny Price would be interesting to talk to. I would really like to know more about her.
Who is your least favorite Jane Austen heroine?
Anne Elliot. Even though Anne has many wonderful qualities, she is my least favorite heroine. I still like her, but she’s not my favorite.
Why is she your least favorite?
I don’t really relate to her but I can’t really pinpoint the exact reason.
What is your favorite Jane Austen heroine quote?
“I dearly love a laugh.” (Everyone can guess who said that :))
Heroine of the Day – Anne Elliot
Anne Elliot is a kind and steadfast heroine. She is the oldest of all Austen heroines. Even though Anne is not my favorite heroine, she does have some first-rate qualities. Anne is not snobbish like her father and sister, and to some extent, Lady Russell. She very much deserved to marry Capt. Wentworth.