Thursday, February 24, 2011

Lucy Steele - literary precursor to Becky Sharp and Scarlett

I've been thinking a lot about Lucy Steele this days. My story for the "Jane Austen Made Me Do It" contest tells the story of Lucy's circumstances leading up to her arrival at Barton Park and her campaign to keep Elinor Dashwood at bay.

Lucy is pretty much despised for her tactics in keeping her man--she lies and cheats and torments Elinor--but I've always admired her spunk, just as I admire Becky Sharp from Vanity Fair and Scarlett O'Hara from Gone With Wind.

So here's my thought for the day...

Margaret Mitchell declared that she was not influenced by Vanity Fair and Becky Sharp when she created Scarlett. I don't believe her and posted about the similarities between Becky and Scarlett here.

Now, I'm thinking that Lucy Steele is the literary precursor of both Becky and Scarlett. She is the anti-hero, full of energy, guile, and fearless when it comes to going after what she wants and thinks she deserves. In some ways, she is a very modern woman, who would be quite comfortable in any boardroom, making deals and driving hard bargains.

I'm not saying I'd want her for a sister and I wouldn't want to take her for a role model, but you have to admit that she is a force to be reckoned with.

When looking for images, I stumbled upon this post at Jane Austen Today, Lucy Steele Comes Clean about Sense and Sensibility, in which Imogen Stubbs, who plays Lucy in the Ang Lee movie, also sees Lucy as a Becky Sharp type of character. And here I thought I was being original!

If you would like to read my Lucy Steele story, it's #23, "Carpe Diem." If you like it, please consider casting a vote for it!


  1. I voted!
    I'm not familiar enough with Becky Sharp -I've seen the DVD with Reese Witherspoon, but the book is still on my TBR shelf - but I'd say it was a harsh world for someone in Lucy's position: no money, very little education - so you can certainly see why she behaves as she does. And she grabs Robert Ferrars when she realises that Edward really isn't that keen on marrying her and he obviously is keen on Elinor, after an engagement that dragged on for years. I doubt it was purely that Robert was going to be the one who inherited all of the money.

  2. I voted. I'm tired of heroines good and too good. She is right to pick what they want.
    Very good people are left alone and without money at the end.

  3. Thanks for the votes and comments on the story--much appreciated!

  4. I'm going to read S&S again soon and I'm going to have to pay special attention to Lucy now!

  5. You made Lucy Steele much more realistic than Austen treated her (as little more than a plot device). In fact, the way you wrote her (with all her foibles but with an understandable reason for them) was more like Gaskell would have written her, had she done Sense and Sensibility instead!
    Good luck in the contest, I gave you my vote!

  6. Thanks Phylly--I guess reading all those Victorian novels has influenced me after all!