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Written by BarbaraB
(10/3/2009 3:39 p.m.)
What a horrid woman, both in countenance, personality and manners. “Mrs. Ferrars was a little, thin woman, upright, even to formality, in her figure, and serious, even to sourness, in her aspect. Her complexion was sallow: and her features small, without beauty, and naturally without expression: but a lucky contraction of the brow had rescued her countenance from the disgrace of insipidity, by giving it the strong characters of pride and ill-nature. She was not a woman of many words: for, unlike people in general, she proportioned them to the number of her ideas; and of the few syllables that did escape her, not one fell to the share of Miss Dashwood, whom she eyed with the spirited determination of disliking her at all events.”
Mrs Ferrars is making much over Lucy and her sister purposefully to spite Elinor. The only reason I can determine for Mrs. Ferrars to treat Elinor as she does, is that Fanny has informed her of a possible attachment between Edward and Elinor, no doubt with complaints about the Dashwoods in general concerning such things as removing the china from Norland, etc.
What really struck me about what kind of woman she is, was when the Lucy-Edward engagement came to light. When Edward insisted on honoring the engagement no matter how much she pressured him she finally says this as related by John: “...if he still persisted in this low connection, represented to him the certain penury that must attend the match. His own two thousand she protested should be his all; she would never see him again; and so far would she be from affording him the smallest assistance, that if he were to enter into any profession with a view of better support, she would do all in her power to prevent his advancing in it.”
So not only will she not help him, she will do everything in her power to hinder any of his efforts to make good on his own. Even if, in the end, she decided not to do it, what kind of mother even threatens such a thing? She and Lucy both deserve their misery imo. Too bad the Dashwood sisters didn’t just happen upon the household during the uproar. Imagine Lucy’s humiliation if Elinor had been a spectator to her horrible eviction. Imagine, too, Mrs. Ferrars having to acknowledge, even if silently, Elinor’s presence as she was told of Edward’s and Lucy’s engagement or if Elinor had come in immediately afterward. Hah! Knowing Mrs. Ferrars, she would have probably despised Elinor all the more for being the obviously better choice to begin with.
I had always thought Mrs. Norris the worst female character in Austen, but I’m beginning to think that Mrs. Ferrars has her beat. She seems to be filled with pure malice.
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