Jane, Bad Boys and Winners!

As far as I can recall, Jane Austen never used the term “rake” in her stories, but it’s my understanding that during her time, it had a different spin than we put on it in modern historical romances. Jane’s villains tend to be what might have been called rakes; their common trait is they take advantage (or try to) of women in the stories. Her heroines always end up with the good guys.

Jane’s bad boys aren’t all equally villainous and I have a little more sympathy for some than others. Actors’ interpretations can bring out nuances, too.

Frank Churchill from Emma is the lightweight, more selfish puppy than dark schemer. I can’t remember enough of other portrayals of Frank Churchill to judge, but here’s Ewan McGregor in the 1996 (Gwyneth Paltrow) version.

At the other extreme, Pride & Prejudice’s Wickham is pretty loathsome. Here are Adrian Lukis and Rupert Friend, from the 1995 and 2005 versions, respectively. I think Lukis’s Wickham is a little too obvious to fool Elizabeth. Friend, on the other hand, has a gaunt look about him that makes him seem more vulnerable and thus more deceptive.

William Elliot from Persuasion is another villain without redeeming qualities, but at least Anne sees through him pretty quickly. Here’s Samuel West, from the 1995 film that is my favorite adaptations. Honestly, I can’t remember other portrayals. I need to watch more Austen movies over the holiday break!

Willoughby (Sense & Sensbility) is more interesting. Dominic Cooper in the new version seemed kind of a toad; I prefer Greg Wise’s portrayal in the 1995 (Emma Thompson) version. He gives the sense that he will regret giving up Marianne for the rest of his life. Though perhaps he deserves his fate, I can’t help feeling a little sorry for him.

I also find Henry Crawford from Mansfield Park intriguing. Although I haven’t yet seem a film version of MP that I liked, here’s Alessandro Nivola in the 1999 version.

Although I find these last two the most well rounded as villains, they’re still not quite the reformable rakes of historical romance, who may get around but don’t treat women as badly.

So what do you think of Jane’s bad boys? Which do you find most interesting? Which actors did the best job with them? What do you think of good guys versus rakes in historical romance?

Comment for the chance to win either the annotated copy of Pride & Prejudice or Persuasion. Our Jane Austen Week winner will be announced on Monday.

And congratulations to the following winners of the Kindle ebook of THE REDWYCK CHARM. Please send your email address, and if you wish, the email address of a friend who might enjoy a copy, to elena @ elenagreene.com (no spaces).

Barbara E

Happy holidays!



About Elena Greene

Elena Greene grew up reading anything she could lay her hands on, including her mother's Georgette Heyer novels. She also enjoyed writing but decided to pursue a more practical career in software engineering. Fate intervened when she was sent on a three year international assignment to England, where she was inspired to start writing romances set in the Regency. Her books have won the National Readers' Choice Award, the Desert Rose Golden Quill and the Colorado Romance Writers' Award of Excellence. Her Super Regency, LADY DEARING'S MASQUERADE, won RT Book Club's award for Best Regency Romance of 2005 and made the Kindle Top 100 list in 2011. When not writing, Elena enjoys swimming, cooking, meditation, playing the piano, volunteer work and craft projects. She lives in upstate New York with her two daughters and more yarn, wire and beads than she would like to admit.
This entry was posted in Jane Austen and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Jane, Bad Boys and Winners!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.