Today's Top Ten Tuesday topic for most people is the top ten books people have been telling you that you must read, but of course, since it's Austen in August, I just had to disregard that. (Though of course, I have plenty of those.)
Instead, we're taking a look at some of my favorite love-to-hate, frustrating characters in all of Austen. Because if there's one thing Austen does well, beyond swoon-worthy romances, it's writing the most believably, recognizably frustrating characters you've ever come across in the pages of a book and said, "Gah! That's just like so-and-so, grrr!!"
So, in no particular order, my Top Ten are...
Fanny Price. Yep. A main character, a heroine of the novel, is one of my most frustrating characters. I try so hard to like her, and I do see why she is the way she is, but... she's just so hard to love sometimes! I think I could forgive her lack of spirit if she weren't also so judgmental and holier than thou sometimes... (I try, Jane, I really do. I try to like Fanny, but you test me with her.)
Mr Collins. Of course. Of course. He's on everyone's list, as any obtuse, obnoxious sycophant would be. He doesn't top my list, though, because at the very least, he makes for good amusement (at his expense — but don't worry...he's too oblivious to even notice.)
Miss Bates. I just... Miss Bates just makes me shake my head. Poor Miss Bates... she's well-meaning and lonely, and I really do pity her, and she's certainly not the most obnoxious person on the list — sometimes I think she might even be pleasant, and she seems very caring. But people who never stop talking make me feel like I'm in a cage, and it's even worse when the chatter is not to any real point. Let's just say, I understand why the temptation was there for Emma to be very cutting.
Mrs. Elton. Just...Mrs. Elton. Does anything else need to be said? UGH.
Sir Elliot. This man... This self-important, useless fop of a man, I just want to knock the smugness right out of him. I am literally gritting my teeth while I write about him, trying to put into words what bothers me so much about him, and all that will come out is GRRRRRRAAARRRRRRGHHHH! #jackass.
Fanny Dashwood. I feel like Fanny shouldn't be on a frustrating characters list, so much as a Characters I want to exact sweet, sweet karmic comeuppance on. Fanny's in need of a good dose of that, and when I talked about "Defending Austen's Bitches" last year, and how they really are mostly sympathetic and understandable, I pointedly left Fanny off of the list of 'redeemable.' My exact words...
UGH FANNY. There is absolutely no defense for her. Horrid woman.And she's followed closely by John Dashwood, who should know better. [SMH at you, John. SMDH.]
Mrs. Norris, who actually did get a defense in the Austen Bitches vlog, so I do see why she is the way she is (somewhat). But still. Lady has issues.
Jane Fairfax. I try to like her. I try to see her place in things, and how she came to be the person that she is, but, much like Emma, she just gets under my skin. There's nothing to be done for it, it just is.
And lastly, Mary Musgrove. This pick maybe in 'particular order,' because frankly, Mary is my number one. She's not the most malicious or ill-intentioned of Austen's characters; she's a very everyday kind of person, and one you'll meet many times throughout your life, and I CANNOT STAND HER. I've said before, and I'm sure I'll say it again, but she is exactly calculated to make me want to shake her until her teeth rattle. The type of person that it would not do to leave me alone with for any length of time, because one of us would not fare well, and I fear it would be me (because I'd lose my motherJaneing mind!)
And there you have it! There are of course many more perfectly frustrating characters in Austen, many of whom I love to love to hate (or be mildly irritated by). I've grown used to Mrs. Bennet's nerves (they've been my constant companion these 13 years), and Lady Catherine is ridiculous, of course, but it's just so fantastic to watch her be put in her place that it makes all of her obnoxious officiousness seem worth it. I very much wanted to put Lucy Steele on this list (Little weasel.), but alas, I've only got ten spots!
Of course, there are those who say Darcy is one of the most frustrating, and some people are put off by Emma, but I so thoroughly understand them (and see bits of myself in them) that they've never bothered me much. Caroline and Lydia I defended in the video, and many more I've talked about in twitter chats and the like.
But what I'm saying is, Austen writes an EXCELLENT irritating character — one we all recognize so well that all of those little innocuous things that you can't even put words to make you just see red, because you KNOW that person! You want to shake that person! She taps right into that, and it's brilliant.
So who are some of your most frustrating Austen characters, and what is it that sets you off?
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