Jane Austen’s Villains: Wickham in Different Guises — 12 Comments

  1. I think Wickham is naturally bad. I can’t see that he has any good in him no matter what he looks like. Everything he does is for his own gain and if he can hurt Darcy at the same time well that is a bonus. As you can probably tell from this post I am definitely team Darcy 😊

  2. To me Wickham has always been the sleezy guy that knows he is too good looking and uses it to get what he wants. He has always been able to smile and get what he wants. In high school he was the captain of the football team or the quarterback. Darcy on the other hand is the good looking guy that is also at the head of the class and is always at the charity drives and school grounds clean up. He tends to be the big brother that girls turn to after Wickham has dumped them. I am a team Darcy member also.

    • Maggie, I totally agree. Our high school football team quarterback was exactly like Wickham. I can distinctly remember him hitting on me for a few weeks in the beginning of our freshman year in our math class. I was a well-established nerd, and did not trust him (he’d never paid any attention to me before). Sure enough, the day before the test, he cornered me and tried to sweet-talk me into letting him see my test while we took it. While I laughed at him and gave him a giant “NO” I do remember him getting in trouble later for his girlfriend doing his homework. Not surprisingly, she was a cheerleader with a Caroline Bingley personality.

  3. Wickham is a manipulator. He’s interested presenting himself as a handsome and gregarious gentleman while hiding his true self from his victims. He’s deceptive and at the same time self-justifies. In our JASNM we are studying Emma. I see Frank Churchill as being somewhat like Wickham in how he manipulates Emma and Jane Fairfax. Do other readers see the similarities? Frank Churchill perhaps is not quite as bad, but he certainly is NOT a hero!

  4. I agree Meg on Frank Churchill! He was too smooth and manipulative for me as well. As for Wickham, in ‘Lost in Austen’ I didn’t find him to be as much of a villain as an opportunist. Dare I say, I rather liked his character in this movie!

  5. When was Dan Stevens playing Wickham? I know he was Edward in S&S. I did like the Wickham in Lost in Austen he had more human traits. But there are some that are down right horrible, one story had him kidnapping a pregnant Elizabeth and almost killing her. Frank C is just a selfish spoiled child, I don’t know how he finally decided to do right by Jane F, of course I am glad he did but he struck me at first by his behavior toward her that he would bolt on her right after the death of his aunt.

    • You’re right, Julie — Dan Stevens was Edward, not Willoughby. I was thinking villains. Speaking of Frank and all his game playing, isn’t Edward Ferrars a bit of a villain, too?

    • Frank is more than just a spoiled boy to me. Yes he gives Jane a piano, is open with everyone after the aunt dies, and they may have had an agreement we do not know about that they would play a game of secrecy until his aunt dies, but he did not treat Jane or Emma well for the bulk of the story. If he truly loved Jane he could have just kept his engagement a secret without stringing Emma along and hurting both women. If I were Jane, I’d not trust Frank. Of course then there would be no antagonist or much conflict in the novel.

  6. Wickham, Willoughby, Henry Crawford–these are the Austen villains we love to hate. They take us in as well as the heroines, so we also feel betrayed when the truth comes out about their true characters.

    I don’t see Edward Ferrars as manipulative, but manipulated; he’s stuck between a rock and a hard place in engaging himself when he was young and stupid to a girl who was far more manipulative than he could ever be. When he meets Elinor, he falls for her yet is honor-bound to remain engaged to Lucy Steele. He never makes Elinor a promise; he tries to tell her his story but is interrupted by his (also manipulative) sister. Edward finally finds a woman worthy of his love, yet he is not free to pursue her. He does the right thing by remaining with Lucy despite her unworthiness and his mother’s disinheritance…although I am quite sure that he was thrilled when Lucy broke off their engagement. Men weren’t allowed to break engagements; only women could, so it took Lucy’s marrying his own brother to free Edward to then pursue Elinor. Could he have told Elinor about Lucy? Yes. But in a way, I don’t blame him for not doing so; it must have caused excruciating embarrassment to acknowledge being engaged to such a woman…and a woman with such a sister!!

    Okay, I’m off my Edward Ferrars is not Wickham/Willoughby/Crawford high horse now. 😉

    Thank you for a lovely post, and it was fun to rewatch these scenes!

    Susanne 🙂

  7. Thank you, Susanne for your contribution to the discussion. I do agree, Edward is not in the same category of some of the other JA heroes. His only real crime is cowardice. However, he does lead Elinor on and he’s dishonest. He owed her the truth and she had to find out from Lucy Steele.

  8. Many thanks to all of you — Meg, Julie, Carole, Maggie, Glynis and Susanne — for your part in the discussion. Normally, I answer all posts individually as I receive them, but this time, since everyone had a lot to say, I thought I’d let the discussion take its course. 😉

  9. I have seen all of these films. The only one is which he seems to have any redeeming qualities is Lost in Austen. Most times he is just a user and doesn’t seem to have any attachments or even loyalty to man, woman or child. He is just out for his own pleasures and has no look to the future or fear of consequences.

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