I’d like to take up the question of why we like some Austen heroes better than others. I don’t think it’s just a matter of having nothing to
forgive them for, because some things are easier to forgive than others, and when we decide what we find easier to forgive, we are telling more
about our own morality vis-à-vis Austen’s than Austen’s own. Still, I’ll bite.
Type 1- Ashley Wilkes
The heroes who are often not liked, not favorites, are those who are deeply moral; let us call them the Ashley Wilkes (of Gone with the
Wind) types: sensitive, kind, loyal, impeccably behaved from the standpoint of true tact, gentility, and altruism, and very conventional in
their sense of what a gentleman is; Austen of course plays tricks on us, and adds to this weak soup characteristics like reserve, manly hauteur
in order to protect the self (how I see some of George Knightley’s behavior to Emma), and being more than a little gauche, very bad at gay
repartée — for which many of Austen’s readers cannot forgive Edmund Bertram, Edward Ferrars, Colonel Brandon, and George Knightley. As Rhett
Butler says, they’re gentlemen caught in a world which worships handsomeness, suavity, the man who can master others. Edward Ferrars and Colonel
Brandon are weak in that battle of domination between people that is perhaps the essence of life, as in “life is a war of nerves”, “a battle”.
These types are “dolts”, “dull”, “prigs”,