TTT: Jane Austen on That person you don't owe anything

Another Top Ten Tuesday and today's is a Valentine's Day freebie! This year though, I've got one for the singles. When you're not coupled-up there can be a lot of pressure to meet someone, and single women especially often get accused of being too picky or having unreasonably high standards. But as one Jane Austen lady put it "it ought not to be set down as certain, that a man must be acceptable to any woman he may happen to like himself."  - in other words, if you're not feeling it, you don't owe them anything. 

When you think Jane Austen, chances are that Mr. Darcy (possibly in the wet shirt) won't be far from your thoughts. But I also love the way she writes the not-so-enviable men. She clearly had standards (which is probably why she died single - but better than getting stuck with a Mr. Collins type) and she makes it very clear, as do her heroines, that you should never feel the need to settle for someone you know is not right for you. Or who you just... don't like that much.  Below are a few of her characters that best prove the point (see also: Jane Austen's Frenemies and why she's the best at writing fuckboys). I know it's Top Ten Tuesday, but she only wrote six books, so six is all you're getting!

SPOILERS ahead!!

John Thorpe: 
The one who only talks about himself

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"Little as Catherine was in the habit of judging for herself, and unfixed as were her general notions of what men ought to be, she could not entirely repress a doubt, as she bore with the effusions of his endless conceit, of his being altogether completely agreeable."

When eighteen year old Catherine Moreland first seeks adventure in Bath, she knows nothing of men - or the world in general. But she knows what she likes, and  - despite the pushing of her brother and her best friend - what she likes is smart, funny Henry Tilney and not her brother's university friend who fancies her a bit and expects her to ride out with him (even when she's made other plans) and listen to him talk about himself, his carriage, his sporting pursuits and how the books she reads are a waste of time.

Mr. Collins: 
The one who thinks you should be grateful

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"It does not appear to me that my hand is unworthy of acceptance, or that the establishment I can offer would be any other than highly desirable [...] and you should take it into farther consideration that in spite of your manifold attractions, it is by no means certain that another offer of marriage might ever be made to you."

Mr. Collins is a strange mix of pitiable and infuriating, but the first shouldn't make you forget the second. He gets it in his head that because Elizabeth Bennet doesn't have a lot of options (due to her financial situation) there's no reason at all why she should turn him down. He's not very clever, which isn't his fault, but he's also pompous and petty, which is. When Lizzie turns him down flat, he gets all offended - but Jane Austen makes it very clear that he has no right to be.

The ex who hurt you 

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"I felt that she was infinitely dearer to me than any woman in the world, and that I was using her infamously. But everything was then just settled between Miss Grey and me. To retreat was impossible."

When Willoughby first meets Marianne, he's only after a bit of fun. The fact that he falls for her doesn't excuse what comes after (or before.) He chooses the money, and then tries to wheedle his way back into our affections by playing the broken-hearted card. He harps on about what he has suffered, but sweeps Marianne's suffering (that he caused) and his own callous behaviour towards her, under the carpet. He brought it all on himself and if he lost Marianne he's only himself to blame.

Mr. Elton: 
The one who says you led him on 
(or is snide-y about your friends)

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"I need not so totally despair of an equal alliance, as to be addressing myself to Miss Smith!-- No, madam, my visits to Hartfield have been for yourself only; and the encouragement I received--"

Mr. Elton is the Jane Austen man that I most want to punch in the face. He sets his sights on Emma (out of his league) and then essentially calls her a prick-tease when she tells him she only thought of him for her friend (who, turns out, he thinks he's too good for.) He throws in that he couldn't care less whether her mate lived or died, and that 'everybody has their level'. Charming. Oh, and then he continues to be bitter and petty about the whole thing, even after he's married someone else. Mr. Knightly also points out that Elton acts totally different when he's with the other men than when he's around women - which is never a good sign. 

Mr. Elliot: 
The one your family and friends are backing

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"I only mean that if Mr. Elliot should some time hence pay his addresses to you...I think there would be every possibility of you being happy together. A very suitable connection everyone must consider it - but I think it might be a very happy one."

In Persuasion Anne Elliot is courted by a rich guy with good chat who her family approve of and is due to inherit her family home. Perfect, on paper. But a) she's in love with someone else and b) there's something a bit off about him, although she can't quite work out what it is. He seems kind of fake. Turns out her instincts were good (he was sleeping with her dad's girlfriend and had conned her old schoolmate out of money) plus, her ex is back and she's not going to let her family mess it up for her this time. They may have had their reasons, but she knows herself better than they do, and they were wrong. And anyway, it's her life - she's the only one qualified to decide who she marries.

Henry Crawford: 
The one you know is all wrong for you 

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"We are so very, very different in all our inclinations and ways, that I consider it quite impossible that we should ever be tolerably happy together, even if I could like him. There never were two people so dissimilar. We have not one taste in common, We should be miserable."

Ah, Henry Crawford. If I were Fanny Price I would've given in after he shows up in Portsmouth and is charming with her embarrassing family. Also Edmund is boring and her cousin? But, I can still acknowledge that she made the right decision for her. Exhibit a: Once a cheat, always a cheat. Exhibit b: They have nothing in common and he doesn't really understand her personality. Exhibit c: She doesn't like him as a person - she thinks he's shallow and immoral and annoying. Exhibit d: She doesn't fancy him. Although everyone assumes she must find him attractive, he's just not her type and she doesn't get what all the fuss is about. Quite apart from the fact that she's in love with someone else, these should be reasons enough to knock him back.  

Worst and best Jane Austen suitors? Who would you say yes to?


  1. Hahaha I love your take on this week's topic! I must admit I think Mr. Collins is the lesser of all of these evils--he doesn't seem like the type who would actively cause anyone else harm, whether that's to their person or their reputation, but that doesn't therefore make him marriage material--and I agree that Mr. Elton is the one I'd most like to have a word or two with. He's horrid!

    If I'm being honest, though, I kind of hate all of the men in Sense and Sensibility. I don't mind the Colonel--although I still feel a bit sorry for Marianne, because it does feel a bit like she's had to settle for the nice guy when that's not really who she is as a person--but I LOATHE Edward. Elinor deserved better. In fact whenever I watch adaptations I find myself rooting for Elinor and the Colonel, bit hey-ho.

    1. Thanks Jess! Aw, I like Edward! He does try to do the right thing he's just shy and a procrastinator - I relate too much to dislike him, haha. The Colonel's too melodramatic for Elinor I reckon. I can get on board with Marianne and Brandon because I feel like he's a proper romantic like her - they can be drama queens together. Sense and Sensibility's never been one of my favourites though, kind of feels like a less fun Pride and Prejudice .

  2. The way the actor played Mr Collins in the BBC adaptation is exactly how I picture him forever. He's just so slimy!

    1. Same! They've made him better looking in other versions, but I can't un-see this one

  3. You did such a nice job on this post.

    My post:

  4. I loved this so much!!!! Here is my post-

  5. Okay I'm not an Austen expert (although I do like the Emma Thompson Sense and sensibility and the Keira Knightley P&P) but Mr. Collins! Goodness. And that quote!!!

    These guys are nasty!!!

    1. haha aren't they though! I feel a tiny little bit sorry for him in the Keira Knightly version but most of the time not!

  6. I adored this TTT! I love all things Austen :) I hope you can stop by:


    1. Thanks! Hard to get me to shut up once I'm onto Jane Austen, haha

  7. Oh my God, I cannot tell you how much I loved this! Genius list and a really entertaining take on the prompt - you were spot on with every choice!

  8. I absolutely love your take on this week's topic! So fun! Here is our Top Ten Tuesday. Thank you!

  9. Ah, the Mr. Collin's wave, who wouldn't be charmed by that, lol.

    You have such creative takes on the topic for TTT, I wish I could do that.

    I want try and classify all JA's men, because they aren't villain vs hero, there are lots of types and spectrums.

    Honestly, of this list I think I'd pick Elton, really if I was forced. Elton has ego issues (the other men have ego or beyond plus tons of other issues. Mr. Collins is a repulsive idiot (although hilarious to watch in the movie), Thorpe is a vulgar, repulsive, idiot, and the other guys are on a sort of narcissistic-sociopathic sort of spectrum.

    1. ah thanks! haha I'd definitely pick Henry from the options! Elton is so petty, couldn't be doing with that.

  10. I love your take on this! What a fun experiment. I will say I've tended to be one of those who thinks Fanny should have given Henry Crawford a chance, Edmund was just so boring!

    1. Thanks! I would've gone Henry for myself, haha, might've livened her up a bit, but can't see those two working out in the long-term!

  11. What a fabulous post. Yes, Jane recognized a good-for-nought when she saw one.

  12. Oh, goodness! What a wonderful post about those awful Jane Austen side characters. <3 Love the GIFs too. Collins is the one I least despise from in here, even though he was so irritating. Happy TTT.
    ~ Lex (

  13. This is genius! So much fun! Every time I reread P & P, I dislike Mr. Collins more. Ha! And Willoughby is the worst. ;)


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