Today we're taking on: AUSTEN'S BAD BOYS.
If Wickham, Willoughby, Crawford and Thorpe (or another character of your choosing) were to compete for “Biggest Rake” who would win and how would it go down?Answers from:
Juliet Archer in red
Alyssa Goodnight in orange
Jenni James in green
Susan Kaye in light blue
Laurie Viera Rigler in dark blue
Talia Vance in purple
and ME in pink
Prepare yourselves for a very...colorful conversation. ;P
*Please note, I've taken some minor liberties for the sake of flow...
Jenni: Oh goodness, this is a good question!
Alyssa: Naturally, a competition of that sort would need to occur at a country house party, in which all of the Rake Contenders were in attendance, along with a carefully curated selection of impressionable young ladies—one for each—preferably the beastly sort that imagine they are far superior. The ladies will be released into the gardens, much like a pack of hounds, and soon afterwards, the gentlemen, or more correctly, the rakes. The winner of the title, “Biggest Rake” will be the first to maneuver one of the young ladies into a compromising position that subsequently leads to a settlement: marriage, monetary, or otherwise...
Me: Shall we start with Thorpe?
Jenni: Thorpe was just a braggart and a troublemaker, I don’t think he fully qualifies as a rake...
Susan: Thorpe is just a goof and an intelligent young woman should watch and learn the signs.
Me: I don't think you can completely discount Thorpe, though. He's got that crazed recklessness, like if you dare doubt him, if you question his rakishness, he's going to have to prove you wrong. Like, snatch you up and ride off in a rickety carriage, prove...
But okay, so no Thorpe. What about Henry Crawford? I think he gets painted as a rake; Jane is pretty hard on him, I'm not going to lie - and sometimes he can't seem to stop himself, so there's that. But I always saw potential in him for something more. Erm, maybe I just have a bad boy complex?
Susan: Crawford is really dangerous in that he can be sincere, but that sincerity is based on his feelings and the circumstance, however he too is weak in character, and has no staying power. IMO, Crawford has the potential to do the deepest damage to a smaller number of women over time.
Alyssa: My money is on Henry Crawford.
First, he is – by a very long shot – the most charismatic male character in Mansfield Park; and, accordingly, we witness the devastating effect he has on the women, even demure little Fanny. Second, unlike his nearest rivals Wickham and Willoughby, we see that he has a devoted sister, Mary – and, despite her flaws, we feel that a man capable of inspiring such affection can’t be all bad. And finally, he comes closer to redemption than any of the other rakes, through his unmistakable love for Fanny.
How would Henry’s title go down? Surprisingly well, I imagine, despite his behaviour throughout the novel! We know that he appealed to Jane’s favourite family members: her brother Henry, who was flattered that he shared the same name, and her sister Cassandra, who wanted Fanny to marry him. But then, that’s the power of the reformed (or almost reformed) rake – in fiction, at any rate.
Me: Okay, so that's 2 for Henry Crawford all the way -
Laurie: Crawford takes his own supposed reform too seriously to have a real chance at the title. He's just too weak to stay on the wagon.
Jenni: Crawford is pretty much a rake--bad boy turned good, turned bad again--but he seems to have more of a problem with the chase, always trying to guarantee he gets all the girls to like him--or whoever is the biggest challenge at the time...
Me: Hmm. Then what about everyone's favorite whipping-boy, Wickham? I mean, most people can't help but sneer when they say it, half anger/half gasp: Wwwickhammm!
Susan: Wickham is conscienceless and leaves destruction wherever he goes. He’ll rack up high numbers of women destroyed or nearly so, but it will, for the most part, be of short duration for each.
Jenni: I would have to go for Wickham. Not only did he take advantage of a flirtatious, stupid girl, he went into hiding and then was forced to marry her.
“He was declared to be in debt to every tradesman in the place, and his intrigues all honoured with the title of seduction, had been extended into every tradesman’s family. Everybody declared he was the wickedest young man in the world... Elizabeth, though she did not credit above half of what was said, believed enough to make her former assurance of her sister’s ruin still more certain.” Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 48
Me: Ooh, Jenni's pulling out the quotes to back it up, guys!
Laurie: Wickham's too much of a whiner/victim to win the competition. Willoughby, however, is the real deal. Anyone who could knock up the under-age ward of his neighbor, steal the heart of said neighbor's major crush, jilt said crush and nearly drive her into an early grave, and still melt the heart of the jilted girl's sister just because he was so, so sorry for what he'd done (boo hoo, I'm playing the smallest violin in the world)—and all without breaking a sweat--could talk his way into unlacing just about any corset in Austenworld.
Jenni: I believe Willoughby truly loved Marianne, though his greed and pride got in the way of that love...
Me: Good points, all. I really don't know which would win for me. Part of me wants to say Thorpe, just because the rest have redeeming qualities to me, where he has none. But he is sort of throwaway, and as a few of you have pointed out, the real danger is the rake who makes you want to love them - who's good at being a rake - and the other 3 certainly have that down to a science...
I'm torn - what say you? Leave your thoughts on the biggest rake in the comments, whether it's one of these 4 or someone else - say the elder Mr Ferrars, who stole his brother's mothereffing fiance... I'm eager to hear who you guys think would win the title of Biggest Rake!!
Many thanks to Juliet Archer Alyssa Goodnight Jenni James Susan Kaye Laurie Viera Rigler and Talia Vance!!