There’s a guy in every Jane Austen novel who isn’t the best kind but he ends up involved with the leading lady and that’s when things get complicated. But is the worst offender the best constructed character?
Mr. Elliot from Persuasion is the worst. He reduces a friend to poverty and then refuses to help his widow. He marries someone for her fortune and treats her badly. Then he tries to manipulate Anne and those around her into thinking he’d be a good husband for her. But Mr. Elliot doesn’t have much of a personality. Mostly because he’s pretending to be something he’s not.
Frank from Mansfield Park is not the worst offender but I still feel bad for his wife. They have to keep their engagement a secret and then he flirts with Emma as a misdirect.
Crawford mostly acts on his boredom and goes along with passions leaving crushed people in his wake.
Willoughby is a charmer and also acts on his passions. But the difference between him and Crawford is that he left a girl pregnant without resources. He also didn’t have the courage to tell Marianne the truth.
John Thorpe might have the most personality but he’s the most annoying.
I’m not sure where to place Wickham but I feel like he serves the plot and character building the most. Elizabeth is fooled by his charm and has to confront that when Darcy exposes his real character. He’s the poorest of the bunch and like Willoughby he lives above his means. Neither of them marries for love but for money.
Frank does the best of the bunch. But he’s also the least awful.