In Pride & Prejudice, Jane Austen intended George Wickham’s character to be the villain of the story: Yes, Darcy is a proud, arrogant and insufferable snob, but Wickham is definitely the villain:
Now, whether you are watching an adaptation from the original book or indulging in one of the modern-day variations, you either love him or hate him. Or do you?
My opinion differs depending on which of my two favourite adaptations I’m watching. They are the 1995 adaptation from Austen’s original manuscript by Sue Birtwistle and Andrew Davies and the modern-day version, Lost in Austen, by Guy Andrews. I can’t deny that both George’s are handsome, personable and look very nice in a scarlet uniform, but for me that is where the similarity ends. I must, however, give credit to two amazing actors for delivering such different versions of the same character. The 1995 GW was Adrian Lukis and the Lost in Austen actor was Tom Riley. Both were superb as George Wickham.
In the original I find Wickham to be a jealous, selfish cad. He’s a compulsive gambler, a liar and an accomplished despoiler of maidens. Unfortunately there is nothing in his character that I like, which is just as Austen intended.
However, in Guy Andrews’s version I find I quite like George. He’s honourable, gallant and insightful, offering assistance and advice wherever he can.
Examples; (Spoiler Alert!)
As the story unfolds we learn that Georgiana has persistently offered her virtue to George. He gently rebuffs her and calls her a sweet child; this obviously dents her pride and infuriates her. In retaliation for his rejection, she informs her brother that George has ravished her, and doting Darcy believes her. Poor George!
After Mrs Bennet ejects Amanda from Longbourn, George instructs her on how to act in society, gives her advice on where to go and what to do. Finally he gives her half his money so that she can buy a suitable gown to visit Jane at Rosings. (Love the fan scene)
He takes pity on Bingley, who is lamenting the loss of Jane to Mr Collins. He stays with him as he drowns his sorrows in the bottom of a bottle and then safely returns him to Pemberley, much to Darcy’s annoyance.
After Mr Bennet is injured in a sort of duel, it’s George that comes to his rescue. As the injured man lies on the floor bleeding to death, it is George that secures the services of a village woman who has knowledge of stitching wounds. In effect he saves Mr Bennet’s life.
These are not the actions of a villain but a genuinely nice human being, someone you could rely on in a crisis, someone you would be proud to call friend. Oh he is not all sweetness and like though have no fear, George certainly hasn’t lost his edge. There are times when he is more than a little mischievous.
Example; (Spoiler Alert!)
He spreads a rumour that Amanda’s wealth comes from the fish trade and then embellishes it by declaring her father has become a drunken sot and drank it all away. Untrue we know but it has repercussions in the story.
Oh yes, with this George as your friend life would never be dull, interesting and exciting maybe, but never dull. Though it would probably be a good idea to keep your wits about you, just in case;
I find I like the Guy Andrews George very much, almost as much as I like Darcy…..
What do you think?
P/s Have you read my latest book yet, I would love to know what you think.