What the Austen? Podcast

Episode 40: Lucy Steele with @janeaustenrunsmylife | L is for Liability series

May 21, 2023
What the Austen? Podcast
Episode 40: Lucy Steele with @janeaustenrunsmylife | L is for Liability series
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

In this episode I am joined by Leah @janeaustenrunsmylife to discuss Lucy Steele, this is the first in what will become a series titled L is for Liability.

Lucy Steele is marked high as one of the most calculated villains of Austen's work. She is strategic in improving her situation in life and cares little for hurting people along the way. Join us as we discuss this fascinating villain from Sense and Sensibility.

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This podcast is about Janeites coming together, discussing Jane Austen's work, and having a few laughs along the way. 

We really enjoyed making this episode and we hope you like it! 

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Where can you find Leah?  
Instagram: @janeaustenrunsmylife 
Blog: Jane Austen Runs My Life’s Blog 


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izzy:
Hi, Janeites and welcome to episode 40 of the What the Austen podcast. It's another character study today and the person in question is the manipulative Lucy Steele, arguably one of the cruelest characters in Austen's novels. So this episode is the first in what will become a larger set of episodes that I'm calling L is for Liability series, starting with Lucy Steele, but we're also going to look at episodes with Lydia Bennett and Louisa Musgrove. So I have a very exciting guest with me today whose name does begin with L, but isn't a liability of course. And that is the wonderful Leia from the blog and Instagram page, Jane Austin runs my life. So welcome Leia, I am so excited to have you on today.

JaneAustenRunsMyLife:
I'm so excited to be here. Thank you for inviting me.

izzy:
Of course, absolutely. And I've looked your page and all your blog content for a long time. It's really good. And I like that we have like a similar approach to Austin that's just like really fun. And I know you do a lot of crossover content as well. So I always really love that, but it would be good to hear from you. What got you into Austin originally?

JaneAustenRunsMyLife:
I've shared this before on my blog and it's a bit of a long story so I'll try and summarize it. It started with my sister read Pride and Prejudice and she tried to get me to read it, but I was at that age where I felt like, oh, it's a romance. All she did was mention, oh, the mom wants the sisters to get married, and I just stopped listening. I was like, oh, romance, that's so boring. I don't want to read that. And then when I was 16, I was at a slumber party and they were showing Pride and Prejudice, the 2005 edition. And I really don't like Keira Knightley. So I did not enjoy the movie at all. And I think too, there was like something else was happening that night. So I wasn't in the best of moods. And one of my friends said something about how it's a period drama or they're talking in British accents. That's probably why you just didn't get into it. And for some reason that really offended me. So I was like, I'm gonna read this book down because I want to know what's happening. And then I read it and I had to apologize to my sister and tell her I was wrong. And

izzy:
Yeah.

JaneAustenRunsMyLife:
then I ended up reading all of the Jane Austen books.

izzy:
gosh that's such a wild story! I love that! That's so different than some of the other stories I've had in the past so that's a really fun one I like it!

JaneAustenRunsMyLife:
I know my sister loves to bring it up. She's all, you're just too stubborn sometimes. She just listened to me and things that have been so much easier for you in your life.

izzy:
Oh my gosh, that's so funny, especially now because obviously you've had your blog for a while. I bet she's like, you literally have a blog from what I told you you should read initially.

JaneAustenRunsMyLife:
She does, she never stops bringing that up.

izzy:
That's so funny. But yeah, that's amazing though. It's crazy that that's like how you got into it. And do you still not like the 2005 one? Then you still, you still against Keira Knightley a little bit.

JaneAustenRunsMyLife:
I don't really like that adaption. There are some good points to it. So I don't hate it. I feel like, you know, when you're a teenager, you either hate everything or you love everything. So I was definitely in the hate moment at that time. I don't really like her performance, but she's just not my favorite actress. So I don't really enjoy a lot of things that she's in. But

izzy:
Yeah.

JaneAustenRunsMyLife:
I really, it's the whole, where they try to make the Bennets look like really. poor and they have the pigs in

izzy:
The

JaneAustenRunsMyLife:
the house.

izzy:
farmer look.

JaneAustenRunsMyLife:
Like that now really annoys me. Where I feel like, and then on PS, I love romcoms podcast, they were talking about how the director, he didn't even read Pride and Prejudice. So I was like, that makes sense because a lot of things I don't like, he didn't really understand the book because he didn't read it or really know much about it. So it's like, that makes sense why I don't like that because he didn't really know what he was doing.

izzy:
I hate that when directors don't read the books before they adapt things. That really irritates me. I didn't know that before and now I do. Oh, gosh. But today's episode isn't on Pride and Prejudice, but instead Sense of Sensibility and Lucy Steele, who's honestly just the worst. And I think I don't know about you, Leia, but reading like with Lucy in mind this time, I was like, gosh, she really is a nasty piece of work.

JaneAustenRunsMyLife:
She's one of those characters who is so terrible and she's just someone you just hate because she's just so, just so horrible in how she deals with people and how she really, like as you said, she just is very direct in what she says. Even some of the things like you feel like would just be a very basic comment, not really to know about, but she knows what, who it's directed at, that she's purposely trying to hurt them. But at the same time, you kind of admire her because out of all the villains, she knows what she wants and she's set on that goal and nothing's gonna deter her. She wants what she wants and she's gonna get it.

izzy:
Yes, oh my gosh, and that's the way we definitely like chat about, is her compared to some of the other villains and how she's actually a lot more successful than most villains. But I thought a good place to start would be the initial description of Lucy, which is kind of blended with that of her sister, who's I'll try and keep referring to her as Anne, but she's also called Nancy. It can get confusing

JaneAustenRunsMyLife:
I'm

izzy:
sometimes

JaneAustenRunsMyLife:
going to go.

izzy:
because apparently Nancy is a nickname for Anne, which doesn't make too much sense to me, but oh well. So basically the initial description says, they found in the appearance of the eldest, who was nearly 30, very plain and not a sensible face, nothing to admire. So that's referring to Anne, but in the other referring to Lucy, who was not more than two or three and 20, they acknowledged considerable beauty, her features were pretty and she had a sharp, quick eye and the smartness of air, which though it did not give actual elegance or grace, gave distinction to her person. And then she's later described as naturally clever, but she's got no real education to back it up. So I think Eleanor even makes the point that she's actually illiterate, which wasn't uncommon for women because it was difficult for women to get educations at the time. But yeah, that's when Lucy's introduced. And obviously, as readers, the way we're introduced to Lucy is kind of the sickly sweet character who's super playful with the children and flatters everybody profusely. And... It's a little too accommodating, I would say, but what are your thoughts, Leia, on the initial kind of welcome of Lucy?

JaneAustenRunsMyLife:
I think because we're given it from Eleanor's point of view and you know the main we have the main narrator But a lot of Lucy's interactions are from Eleanor and Eleanor is very good at reading people. She kind of sees through that sort of perfect kind of because Lucy wants to be this perfect girl, she's really trying to be the right person for Edward and Be seen more than what she is because of her background. So she's always a little bit too perfect, a little too fake, and a little too much all the time. Like even her actions and the way she interacts with the characters, she's always so over the top. But not so much that it would deter people, but that over the top that especially I feel like older people like. Like you know, have you ever met people like that where they know how to play to the parents or

izzy:
Yes!

JaneAustenRunsMyLife:
older people that she kind of knows what they're doing. they're looking for and she's really using that to her advantage.

izzy:
Yes, that's such a great point. And she's very hot on that when it comes to like Mrs. Jennings. Like she desperately wants to be held in like high esteem there. And I think you're right. I think she kind of thinks about like the older people in society and she thinks, you know, I want all them to think really well of me and I'm like this perfect person. That's such a great like insight into her there. And I think I agree as well that because we see her through Eleanor's perspective, we kind of have this, we're kind of not a hundred percent sure on her already because we're a little bit like. This all seems a little bit too good to be true. She seems a little too sickly sweet here. Like what else is going on under the covers? And I think we kind of get a bit hit in the face with it because it's literally only a couple of pages on from the introduction that she tells Eleanor about the engagement. So obviously, Sir John's teasing Eleanor about it, you know, the misty, the Ferris, the Ferris character, like. that Eleanor's got something going on with. And Lucy hears about this. And then only a few pages later, she's telling Eleanor about her secret engagement. And she says, "'And I am sure I should not have the smallest fear in trusting you.'" And Austin makes a point on the you. Because you just know at this point, you just like, hang on a sec, there's definitely more to this character. She's much more calculated than I first thought.

JaneAustenRunsMyLife:
I definitely agree. I think her main objective was for the Dashwoods to like her because they're related to her future sister-in-law. But then once she caught on what was happening, I think she reads subtext really well. And that's another reason why she's like, I have to make Eleanor my friend, because not only is she future family, of course, she doesn't know that, you know, Fanny Dashwood doesn't really like them. She doesn't know that yet. but she knows this might be future family, but then she's also wanting to put Eleanor on her side to keep her away from Edward and also help her. Because there's a definite where she tries

izzy:
Gosh.

JaneAustenRunsMyLife:
to make Eleanor be her, her confident and her friend, kind of like I want you to also keep an eye on, this is my man, and if anybody else is coming around, you know we're engaged so that you'll know that nothing should be happening.

izzy:
Yeah, and I think it plays into a really interesting debate of whether or not Lucy knew or suspected Eleanor before she went to Barton or after, because when Edward goes to visit before the whole Barton situation, or I think he goes and stays with them or something like this, I don't know. So it's like there's a debate whether or not Lucy already knew before she went to met Eleanor. Like she'd heard about Eleanor and was kind of already on her guard. Whereas other people say that she. didn't know until this comment was made and then she was put a little on her guard about it. But I agree where you were saying the comments you were making about Lucy is she's so socially savvy. Like she's very aware of what's going on and picks up on all these kind of like small, nuance-y things that other people wouldn't. And she, I think you can tell this a lot in the way that Austin describes Lucy's eyes every time she says something. Like there's a part where it says like, she was eyeing Eleanor attentively as she spoke. And so she's like really, you know, eyeing up the situation and being like, what's your like facial reactions? Like what's your body language saying about this? Like, is this somebody that you've got feelings for as well? And you know, I don't actually hate Lucy in this moment for it. I don't know how you feel about it, but Eleanor makes a point of saying that Lucy should be jealous and that she was jealous. you know, what other reason would she want to disclose the affair otherwise? And I don't necessarily think that's a bad thing because if you knew that somebody potentially had feelings for your partner but you were engaged to them, I feel like to an extent you would need to tell them that you're engaged. It's obviously just Lucy takes it a bit further with more malice than that, but I don't know what you think about that. Like maybe maybe you could see it as an act of service.

JaneAustenRunsMyLife:
I agree, I don't really dislike Lucy in the scene. Once he found out that Edward was engaged, I felt like I disliked him because I felt like, even though he thought, oh, if only it's on my end, she'll be okay, I really didn't like that he, he felt it was okay to kind of flirt with her because he knew he was engaged and he knew that nothing was gonna come of it. So I was more upset with him, but it's not really until the end that I get really, upset with Lucy. Once we're more towards the ball and she kind of leaves the sisters and she's with Fanny and then at the course at the very end when she switches brothers, that's more where I was like, man, Lucy is terrible.

izzy:
That's interesting then. So a good thing to chat about would be kind of her interactions with the rest of the family. So Fanny and Mrs. Ferris, because I think this is, I think these moments are super weird. And I also think it's interesting. So obviously Mrs. Ferris and Fanny and everyone like Lucy instantly much more than they like Eleanor because they have nothing to suspect with Lucy. Like they're not fearful that she's got something going on with Edward or anything. That's not even a notion that would even cross their minds. And obviously Lucy just eggs this up. She loves that, you know, they're being so kind to her. What bothers me is that she really rubs it in on Eleanor, like when this happens and she says, you know, my dear friend cried Lucy, as soon as they were by themselves, I come to talk to you of my happiness. Could anything be so flattering as Mrs. Ferris' way of treating me yesterday? And I'm just like, okay, Lucy. And then it says that Eleanor wished to talk of something else, but Lucy still pressed her. to own that she had reason for her happiness and Eleanor was obliged to go on. And it's really clear in this conversation that like Eleanor doesn't really wanna talk about this situation, but Lucy keeps pushing it. And I'm like, ah, see that is dodgy. Like to kind of know and then, and obviously see the way that they've been treating Eleanor and then just to keep pushing the fact that they've been so kind to her, I really think is kind of nasty.

JaneAustenRunsMyLife:
I agree. That's one of the parts where I really disliked Lucy and I really kind of started to get on the Lucy is the villain. We don't like Lucy in this household kind of track because she knows what's happening. She knows by now she knows what happened that, you know, they were sent away. They're living with relatives. She's kind of got an idea of the story. And then the way that they treat her over her sister-in-law is it's just so terrible. But she's like, oh, they're so nice. They're so wonderful. And you're just like, and she had to know that, Eleanor, that would make her uncomfortable because that would make anybody uncomfortable. But yeah, she just still keeps talking about it.

izzy:
Yeah, absolutely. There's a particular quote that says, her little sharp eyes full of meaning, there seemed to me to be a coldness and a displeasure in your manner that made me quite uncomfortable. So she says that to Eleanor like, oh, there seems to be something wrong with you. Why are you finding this uncomfortable? And I think Lucy does such a fabulous job of toeing the line where she's like trying to pretend like she doesn't know what she's doing, but at the same time, both of them know that she knows what she's doing, if that makes sense. And it's kind of this weird... It's as if she makes Eleanor in a position where Eleanor can't outright say like, like, you know what you're doing here? Like, you know, there was something going on and, um, you know, I'm happy to back off, but you don't need to rub it in. She puts her in like this weird place where it's like, she can't say that because Lucy's like, tries to act like she has no idea. Like, Oh, I'm still in the dark. I don't know what's happening. I'm so nice and perfect.

JaneAustenRunsMyLife:
She knows exactly what she's doing. There's this movie from the 90s and it's called, it has Melissa Joan Hart in it. And she talks about the way women fight and the way she describes it. She tells the guy, you know, guys fight and they just like yell at each other and all that stuff. But when girls fight, there's an art to it. They know all the right words to say. They know exactly what to do. Drive me crazy. That's the name of the movie. Lucy just makes me think of that whenever I read sensibility because she does know exactly what to say and what to do and there's such an art to how she does it where you can't say anything about it because then it makes you look like you're the one that's trying to start a fight. She's just so the word she uses and her manners like everything is just perfectly planned in her like battle with people in a sense.

izzy:
Oh my gosh, absolutely. It's really just feel like a game, I think, to Lucy. And I know she has her motives and everything, but I think she takes so much more pleasure in it than say somebody who's just trying to, you know, preserve their engagement because it means kind of protection for them. Like somebody like Charlotte Lucas, who's like trying to, you know, preserve her livelihood. There just seems to be such a coldness in a game to Lucy about this, where it's kind of. She finds pleasure in it because like I said before, you could say to somebody, look, I don't know, like maybe we got our wires crossed, maybe something went wrong here. I just wanna let you know, I'm engaged to him. I don't know how he's been treating you. Obviously something went on, but I wanna be honest because, you know, I don't want you to get hurt. Like there's a way of going about it, which would be like a service, me in kind. And then there's this, where it's like the constant just tapping on the wound. Like. And I love that Austin describes it as her little sharp eyes because I feel like Lucy is really sharp. Like even though she's not like actually educated, she's seriously socially savvy and she uses it to her advantage and she's very calculated.

JaneAustenRunsMyLife:
I do think you bring it up Charlotte is a really good example because Charlotte is similar in the sense that she does want to have a certain future she's looking out for. A lot of people would say, you know, she's very calculated, which she is. She's very clever, but there's no malice in what she does. She knows that Elizabeth and Jane, they're not interested in Mr. Collins. I think if one of them had been, she would have stepped back because that's the type of person she is. She's not going to sacrifice someone else for her own future. like someone else's happiness, but because she knows there's nothing there, then she's fine with it. With Lucy, there's a lot of malice in what she does, and she knows this is upsetting Eleanor. And again, you can argue whether she knows how much Eleanor liked him, or if she's not quite sure what their relationship is. Either way, she knows what she's doing and she has a lot of ill intent.

izzy:
Absolutely. And I think it shows the difference between someone marrying for self preservation and someone marrying for self promotion, because I feel like your motives are entirely different there. Someone like Charlotte marries for self preservation, whereas Lucy's, I think Lucy's motives are entirely for self promotion. What she wants from Edward is something that's beyond what she already has. Like she wants something greater for herself and that's why she's so determined to get it. And I think obviously later her marrying Robert really shows that to be true because I think if she wanted self-preservation, she would have just stayed with Edward and not worried about anything else. Just been like, you know, we'll make it work. We'll figure something else. But going for Robert eventually, who obviously has the fortune, really shows that her entire scheme all along was for self-promotion. She was just hoping that Edward would have the money. I think another really awkward scene and something that I think shows that Lucy, I don't think her malice is. only for Eleanor. I think it's for anybody who threatens her or pushes her buttons because the scene when Edward turns up, I love this scene because Austin describes it as, they all looked exceedingly foolish. And this is such an awkward scene when Edward turns up and Lucy and Eleanor are in the room together. Because he has no idea what's been going on that Lucy's using Eleanor as a confidant, which is very odd. But anyway. And Marianne walks into the room and she's like, why are you being so weird with Eleanor? Like, you know, we're good friends, blah, blah, blah. And it really rubs Lucy the wrong way. And it says that Lucy remarks back are said to have been done in a way that was eager to take some revenge. And I think, doesn't that line alone just show that it doesn't matter who it is, that she's always ready to like, get the claws out with somebody? Like if somebody does something that upsets her, but I mean, eager to take some revenge, she's clearly hot on it and wants to. you know, get them back for it.

JaneAustenRunsMyLife:
That's such a great scene. That's one of the best, I feel like, in writing, just because you can feel the emotions of every single person in that room. But I agree. I think Lucy, she's always ready to fight for what she wants. And she's had to work hard to get it. She's been working on Edward since he was a young boy when he first went over to learn by her uncle. She's been working on him. And she doesn't want what she's been working so hard to be lost to her.

izzy:
That's such a great point. And I think if you were to pay devil's advocate, we live in a different time now, but back then when obviously the marriage market was what it was, finding a husband was tough and it was serious business. If you've not got the greatest of circumstances, you really need to find somebody that's gonna be able to take care of you and potentially your family as well. Like her sister, Anne is 30 and so she's, and she's not yet married. So... Lucy might be seeing herself as kind of the person that's got to marry well for the family. You see that with Jane Bennet, you see that with Isabella Thorpe, you know, there's these characters sometimes who are kind of thrust into positions of... but they've got to kind of be the ones to make ends meet in a way.

JaneAustenRunsMyLife:
Yeah, I agree. I do think that's why you do start to feel for Lucy and it's just as time goes on and more and more is revealed of her character that you start to dislike her more and more. Because then she stops being someone where they're at a situation where you understand and you feel for them and you start to see how mean she is and how cruel she is and the little things she says and does. So then you kind of are, you start to lose that, oh I like you. dislike her, but then as the book goes on, I dislike her more and more.

izzy:
And I think again, that seeing things through Eleanor's eyesight as well, because we see how much Eleanor suffers from being friends with her. I think she actually makes a point of saying she was pleased to be free, sorry, she was pleased to free herself from the persecution of Lucy's friendship. And then when she's speaking to Marianne about it, she says, it was told to me, and referring to like the engagement, it wasn't a manna forced on me by the very person herself whose prior engagement ruined all my prospects. and told me as I thought with triumph. And I just think, because we see it from Eleanor's perspective, and like you said, Eleanor's very observant. Like she knows if somebody's trying to, you know, take advantage because she makes a point of being like, I know what Lucy's trying to do, but I'm not gonna let her affect me that much. Like I need to put boundaries up with her. But I think when she really breaks down to Marianne about it, it becomes really clear that the effect that it's had, this kind of tapping away. at her constantly, which Lucy does, you know, she really doesn't stop, but any opportunity she gets, she's like, oh, my friend Eleanor, I need to tell you about my happiness, or I need to tell you about my situation. And it takes its toll on Eleanor, I think, as the book goes on, and then takes its toll on us as readers, because we're like, oh, well, Eleanor's the person that we support, and you know, she's hurting her.

JaneAustenRunsMyLife:
I do feel like Austin just knew how to write characters and situations that are still something you can understand and feel connected to, because the way Lucy acts, everybody's had a friend like that, who's not really their friend and just using them. And the way, like you said, how she's always constantly kind of chipping away at her and using her. It's just something that you can relate to because it's something that you've been through and it's so terrible that even if you read, depending on when you read the book, what age you are, you've already probably experienced that. And you know exactly how Eleanor is feeling in that moment when she's telling Marianne, like she's like, I'm finally free from this.

izzy:
Yeah, that's so true. Oh gosh, yeah, I've definitely experienced Lucy Steeles. And I think that is the beauty of Austin that she's able to write characters that well, she's she was such a like had such a knowledge of human nature that she's able to write characters that just are still around today. Like it's just, you know, people that you'll bump into the most scariest people you can bump into, I'd think personally, because Lucy really is quite awful. And like we're saying before, it's the kind of person you can't turn around to and be like, don't do that, you know, like, please don't because the way that they do it, if you were to do that, you'd be in the wrong. It's so calculated. It's so clever. And I think that's probably what Eleanor was referring to when she says that Lucy's naturally clever, you know, it's this social savviness is this the way that she's able to manipulate the situation and almost gaslight people around her. There's another moment when the so obviously Anne the engagement to Fanny and Mrs Ferris and I don't know if you've seen I can't remember which adaptation it is where she grabs where Fanny grabs um Lucy's nose and is like dragging her around have you

JaneAustenRunsMyLife:
Yes.

izzy:
seen that one? I feel like that's the funniest scene ever um but obviously it's Anne to expose the whole thing in um Anne's I think there's like a point where it says that she was fearful that Lucy would never forgive her, like she'd never seen her so enraged. And I think that's probably because the stakes are so high for Lucy. Like she is carefully like crafted and cultivated this relationship, like you said, from for a while. Yeah, this isn't like a short fling. She's really spent her time on this. And so I can kind of understand why she would be so upset about it because it was going all in her favour before. But she writes a letter to Eleanor after this has happened and basically just saying like, you know It was a bit trying but me and Edward are just so happy and love and all this lot and Once when Eleanor finishes the letter She says she performed what she concluded to be the writers real design by placing it in the hands of Mrs Jennings because in the letter she asks like oh if you know anybody who's got a living for us then you know I I know that you'll help us out and I think this really shows that Lucy's really practical. She's not gonna let things stop her and she'll look for opportunity. And she thinks, right, I'll write this letter. But think how much foresight that thing she's, I'm gonna write this letter because I know that Eleanor will give it to Mrs. Jennings. And obviously Eleanor's smart enough to see that that was the intent of the letter. But I just think, gosh, that blows my mind that I definitely not that calculated myself to think that many steps ahead.

JaneAustenRunsMyLife:
So she is unstoppable. If she could have been able to be in charge of a business or a military thing, she would have just been phenomenal. But I think she is just very clever and calculated. And she knew that writing a letter, people shared letters with each other. She knew exactly what would happen. She knew Mrs. Jennings is very... love Mrs. Jenning so I'm gonna say instead of nosy she's very interested in all the people that she meets what's happening with them and I think yeah you're right she just knew exactly what would happen that they would know somebody there would be something or she might have also already be thinking about Colonel Brandon and that area because I'm sure they would have talked about him and he has a living that's unoccupied at this time so she might have been purposely trying to get him to come and give that living to her. I mean she doesn't know the whole story

izzy:
Oh my

JaneAustenRunsMyLife:
about

izzy:
God.

JaneAustenRunsMyLife:
what happened with Colonel Brandon everything but I feel like people mentioned that he was in love with the woman and he didn't get to be with her so she might already be thinking he'd be sympathetic to their cause.

izzy:
And you know what, if any character was to do that, it would be Lucy because Lucy manages to put things together only from like small snippets of information. Like she doesn't need the full story to be able to figure things out. And yeah, you know, I could definitely see that being the case that she knew enough of Colonel Brandon to be like, hmm, I think that's a good, you know, a good place I can just, I can put a plant there and it'll all work out. Or even just with Mrs. Jennings, like it's good to, you know, she's like. or well, Mrs. Jennings is in a better financial situation than us, maybe she can help or it's very clever. To be honest with you, I think it takes someone like Lucy. I know Colonel Brandon kind of says that he'd like, really liked Edward and is happy to help him out, but the grand scheme of things, I don't think Edward would be very forthcoming or very proactive, whereas Lucy very much is. So should they have stayed together, I actually think it's Lucy that would have probably sorted something quicker than Edward.

JaneAustenRunsMyLife:
Yes, I agree. Lucy, she's the one that she's a mover, she's a planner, and she's kind of a doer. Edward, I feel like is a little bit romantic. He's not someone that's just going to go out and do something unless I feel like it kind of strokes that sensibility of his. Because you see, like he stands up, he doesn't tell his mom about the engagement, but he is willing to stand up to her. when she threatens to cut him off and he says, I'm gonna go marry her anyways. So I feel like he is a little bit more romantic in his tendencies and he's not someone who's gonna, he's not ambitious, which is part of the problem with his mother wants and his sister want him to do different things and he's not interested in that. He doesn't have that ambition and drive.

izzy:
Yeah, that is so true. That is absolutely true. And I think what's interesting is after this point, obviously we're kind of thrown into the dark again, is we don't really know what's going on. We obviously just assume, I think Eleanor just assumes that they're gonna get married because she makes a point of saying, you know, it's someone like Lucy. isn't gonna wait around to secure Edward. She's gonna wanna do it quickly. She's gonna want the marriage happening quickly. So Eleanor really just accepts the fact that they're probably already married. And I think that's true as well. I don't think Lucy would waste any time in securing him once she actually, once it was all out in the open. There's a comment which I think is really interesting and the term used is self-interest. And I think that's the perfect way to describe Lucy. And it says self-interest alone could induce I'm sorry, let me just think about how to say this now. So it says that self-interest alone could induce a woman to keep a man to an engagement of which she seems so thoroughly aware That he was weary And I feel like that is so true Like it must be obvious that he's just not doesn't want to marry anymore because he's in love with somebody else She's we've clearly stated she's observant enough to kind of you know Understand people's emotions and drives and how people are feeling There's no way in hell that she didn't realise that Edward wasn't, you know, in love with her anymore, or even had feelings for her at all. But because she's so self-interested, and because she's, you know, has this drive to obtain what she wants, I don't think she cares! She's just like, well, it's tough because you're gonna be with me.

JaneAustenRunsMyLife:
I agree. Lucy is always looking out for Lucy. And what's best for Lucy? And if Edward doesn't want to be with her anymore, it's like, well, too bad. You made a promise.

izzy:
Yeah, and I think she, yeah, exactly. And I think she plays Edward in a similar way as she plays Eleanor, like that gaslighting. And cause you know how sickly sweet she is with everybody else. You can imagine her being like that with Edward, like continually writing him letters, like as a constant reminder, like you're with me, this is a reminder. And Edward's so, like he's such a good guy and he knows what his duty is that he would never break off the engagement. Like obviously we see that. come to the forefront, like he wouldn't do that because he's made a commitment to Lucy. But I think she plays on that because she knows that about his character and I think it shows obviously why Edward and Eleanor are so good because they're so similar in this sense. But I think it's really sad that Lucy not only gaslights Eleanor in this situation but Edward as well and she plays both of them.

JaneAustenRunsMyLife:
I agree. I think she, you know, people like that, they always kind of learn what you're vulnerable about and they kind of learn how to use it against you. And I'm sure she, you know, with what we see of his sister and his mother, what we hear of her, I feel like they were constantly on his case, always trying to push him. And then the way Lucy acts, she's always so sweet, so understanding. She's like this perfect little... sunshine and light, like this perfect flower that I think she knew exactly how to play that. Like you said, write these letters, just make him feel as if he was in love. She's the only one who understands him, the only one that's there for him until he felt like he couldn't. He promised her he had to fulfill that promise even though he met somebody else.

izzy:
Yeah, no, I absolutely agree. And I think Edward admits to that as well. Like he says, you know, I always felt kind of left out with a family I didn't feel loved at home because my mother's kind of awful. And he says like, obviously when I was with Mr. Pratt and his family, I felt included and accepted. And so it was easier to imagine myself in love because of that. It wasn't until, but he says when he met Eleanor, he felt something different and he realized what he'd felt for Lucy wasn't actually love. So I think that's so true. I think a lot of- you know, Edward's commitment to Lucy, I think a lot of it becomes guilt driven. And I think she plays on that as well, because in the letter that she writes to Eleanor, she also says that, you know, I've told Edward everything. I've told him like a fabulous like confidant you've been to me and all this lot. And I think it's clear that she's using like, who has some control over Edward? Because can you imagine saying to Edward like, oh, I told Eleanor everything. She's been like the bestest friend for me and how- uncomfortable Edward would feel, like how much guilt he would hold then because he knows that he was, you know, drawing the attention to Falonor at one point and I can imagine shame is enough to keep him with Lucy at that point.

JaneAustenRunsMyLife:
I agree, she knows exactly what she's doing. And Edward, he's just very, he's very, compared to her, like she's very kind of a hard person, an ambitious person, and he's a very soft person. So I think it's very easy to kind of mold him into what she wanted and kind of mold what he's doing to what she wants it to be. The behavior, to kind of mold his behavior is that he seems very malleable.

izzy:
Yeah, I really feel that, absolutely. And I think we kind of have these snippets of Lucy where we don't feel great about her for ages and ages. And then like I was saying, we go into this blackout where we don't hear any phone for a while. And then obviously they get the message from Thomas after he's been in town and he's seeing Lucy in the carriage and she's married and she was in the carriage of Mr. Ferris. and they think, oh well it's obviously Edward, they've got married, that's what's happened, it's all worked out and obviously Eleanor's really upset. Only to find out later that it was actually Robert in the carriage and it says that, "'Lisa had certainly meant to deceive, "'to go on with a flourish of malice against him, "'in her message by Thomas was perfectly clear to Eleanor "'and Edward himself now thoroughly enlightened "'on her character and no scruple in believing her capable "'of the utmost meanness of wanton ill nature.'" I just think this is the final nail in the coffin for Lisi for me because I'm just like, can you imagine? Like, you know that that message is gonna get back to Eleanor and you don't gain anything by hurting her anymore. Like then there's no longer the threat of Eleanor taking her partner. She's already married. Obviously she's married to Robert and already has the fortune of, and it's not even about Edward anymore. And I think that shows that Lisi was just cruel all along, that it was a game to her, that it wasn't. specifically about losing Edward or a fear of losing Edward, that it was more than that because else why, what would be her motive to do it? Why deceive? Why put the message out there?

JaneAustenRunsMyLife:
Definitely. She knew exactly what she was doing with how she worded it. She wanted to hurt Eleanor. And I think part of it was a pride thing. She wanted to be the winner, even though she's already won. She had to be the main winner, the big winner. She had to keep that one thing away from Eleanor. She had to hurt Eleanor one more time. It's just, that's, I feel like that's just where she feels good about herself. That's where it just made her feel even better that I got the money. I have the man who's inheriting everything, and I'm keeping this guy away from you, the man that I was supposed to be with. It's like that final thing. She's now collected all the rings. She's collected everything. She has all the trophies.

izzy:
Gosh, if for me, I can't see the full motive behind that because to start with, we can see why she's maybe being kind of cruel to Eleanor to secure Edward, but I'm like, why does she need to win so much? Why is that so important to her? She just must naturally be a not very nice person to go to that level. What has Eleanor possibly ever done to her that was so bad that warranted so much malice? I can't see that.

JaneAustenRunsMyLife:
For me, the person wasn't my friend, they were a friend of my friend. And that's how they were. They just had to always win at everything. And they never felt really on top unless everybody was somehow below them. And it was really, like you said, it's a part where you don't fully understand it. I think because your temperament and personality is just so different from that kind of way of thinking. But where you feel like, why is this the only way that you're feeling good about yourself? Like, why is this making you feel good? You already have everything you want. But that's just the type of person they were. They always had to have everything. They never felt good unless everybody was somehow feeling bad or they were somehow below them in whatever they were achieving for. And it would be really weird things too sometimes where it doesn't even compete where you have this. money and you have this thing, but you had to take this thing from this other person in order to feel like you really achieved everything.

izzy:
Gosh, I'm glad that I don't fully understand it because I feel like it would be disturbing if I was like, I totally understand where Lisey's coming from, but I don't. And I just think it really did show that this was like something that was in rooted in her anyway. And I think that it showed that as well, that scene that I was saying where she says, that she wanted to take revenge on Marianne for what she said. I think she's naturally drawn to the drama and naturally drawn to. Like you said, like this competitiveness that she has to have all the cards. Like it can't just, it's not enough that she has what she needs. She needs more. And I think it's very dark. And for me, I think this is what makes Lucy at least the worst female villain in Austin's work for me personally, because I just think she doesn't stop. Even when she's got everything, it's still not enough. She still wants to cause suffering. And I think that's extremely dark.

JaneAustenRunsMyLife:
I agree. I think a lot of the other female villains, there's at least something in them where they're not fully so full of malice. Like you see with Caroline Bingley where she does try to talk to Elizabeth and tell her, you know, I've heard that Mr. Wickham's not the nicest man to be around and Elizabeth doesn't listen. Like a lot of the other female characters have a little shred of that decency, but with Lucy, I feel like she doesn't have any at all. I agree with you. She's just full of malice and- She has that competitiveness, she always has to be the one that has the cards. She's like one of those people when you play Jenga and you know there's one loser and everybody else wins, she's the person who's like, well I pulled out the most pieces and it didn't fall

izzy:
Yeah.

JaneAustenRunsMyLife:
over so I'm the main winner. Even though everybody wins but one person. That's kind of her mentality. She definitely, I agree with that 100%, that full of malice, full of just... competitiveness, revenge. I always have to, because it almost feels like she does have to get back at Eleanor, even though Eleanor didn't do anything. That's like her last little dig, her last little piece where she is now, I feel like my revenge is completed. I've gotten back at her for even daring to try and take my man away.

izzy:
I agree. And I think it's the fact that she's so calculated makes it worse as well, because I feel like Isabella Thorpe in many ways is very similar to Lucy, but I don't think Isabella is as calculated. Like I think Isabella works on more of a whim and she does gaslight and she is like, you know, trying to manipulate Catherine, but she doesn't plan it out. And it's not like she plants things so that other people are involved and she doesn't do it to the extent that. that she's like, purposely like, I don't know, it's kind of hard to explain, but you get what I'm saying, like Lucy's way of doing it's like, there's so much precision to

JaneAustenRunsMyLife:
I agree.

izzy:
it.

JaneAustenRunsMyLife:
I think with Isabella, it's definitely, it does feel like this is something that I want to achieve. I'm going to try and get it. And she still, she likes Catherine. She manipulates Catherine, so she's not a very good friend. But I feel like there is some, she did like her. She did enjoy being around her. With Lucy, you don't get that type of feeling. It does feel very calculated. She knows exactly what she wants. If this doesn't work out, she goes immediately to her plan B and then she has her plan C. It is very thought out and very meticulous.

izzy:
Yeah, I think that's definitely it. I think there's a sense of enjoyment between Catherine and Isabella's friendship, like even though Isabella manipulates Catherine, Catherine still found enjoyment in their friendship and did care for her for some extent and Isabella did as well, you know, they did have fun together. Whereas you can tell for Lucy, her only motive spending time with Eleanor is to make her suffer and that's just really extreme. And so, yeah, I really think she's the worst, but yeah, in being the worst female villain. she's also the most successful. So most of Austin's villains tend to, even the male villains, they end up worse off really. Even ones who get married. Like if you think about Willoughby, he's not in a happy marriage and the final blow for him is finding out he probably could have married Marianne if he wanted to, if he kind of stayed true to everything. And that's his suffering. But what does Lucy suffer really? She marries Robert Ferris, which... The novel actually says it's the most extraordinary and unaccountable circumstances that they'd ever heard of. Which I think as readers we all think that as well, we're like, this is the weirdest plot twist ever.

JaneAustenRunsMyLife:
I mean, we don't know a lot about Robert. I know they describe him as a dandy in one part where he talks about like his clothing and everything. So we don't know, is she happy with him? Will she be unhappy with him? I agree with you. It is kind of odd that she actually gets a good ending. She achieved what she wanted. She has, you know, she doesn't get her comeuppance like a lot of the other characters.

izzy:
Yeah, and I don't think Lucy's capable of finding like happiness with a partner anyway. I think her happiness comes in that obviously Fanny and Mrs. Ferret, they accept them back in and they all spend time together and I can understand them all liking each other because even though Fanny's not as... I don't think she's quite as malicious as Lucy. She's pretty cruel and I can see them cut from the same cloth even if... Mrs. Fanny's cloth is a little bit more expensive than Lucy's initially. You know, they're the same kind of people. So I can understand why they get on so well. And for Lucy, I think she got the wealth which she wanted. She's in society that she wanted people like Fanny, Mrs. Ferris. I really don't see how she's lost out. And I think it's really interesting that, I think maybe because like we know that Robert Ferris is a bit of a numpty, maybe it's that. as readers we're like, well, they can be together, whatever. And we don't want to spend time with Fanny anyway, so, you know, let them enjoy each other. Like maybe it's just like for us, we're just like, whatever, I don't care. Anyway, that sounds terrible.

JaneAustenRunsMyLife:
That is true, because even in society, most women in her position wouldn't do well, but she has such a knack for that subtext and that social savvy that she's going to do well at dinner parties and balls, she's going to be able to navigate. I do think that having to be stuck with Fanny and Mrs. Baris for all of eternity, that is a terrible punishment. But Edward might, not Edward, sorry, Robert might buy like a second, you know. estate somewhere so that he can be farther away from them. So even that's kind of uncertain. It is interesting. She got everything she wanted. She's gonna do well in whatever she continues in her life. But I guess all the other characters got what they wanted as well. So I think that's why you don't feel as, maybe as upset about it, because you

izzy:
Yeah.

JaneAustenRunsMyLife:
do have Mary Anne. She has that romantic character who really is gonna love and care for her and put her first. And then Eleanor. She has who she wants. And then Edward and Colonel Brandon, they're pretty happy. So I think you kind of just are like, oh, all the people we like are happy. So I guess Lucy can be

izzy:
Yeah,

JaneAustenRunsMyLife:
happy.

izzy:
it's like, it doesn't matter. It's not really, yeah, it's like, it's not really a story of morals, is it, in that sense that, you know, Lucy doesn't suffer for what she's done. She goes on and maybe Austin's like trying to make a point that it's like, I mean, I've said this before in some other episodes that I think Austin notices that introverts often really suffer in society and she makes that clear, like often a lot of the introverts run the risk of losing their happiness. If you think of people like Jane Fairfax and Fanny Price, Jane Bennett, all of those people like, because they're so quiet and poised and they're not going and like actively seeking out things, they run the risk of losing it to people who will. And so I think maybe Austin saying like, look, actually being calculated and pursuing what you want, you know. you can still achieve what you want. You're maybe not the nicest of people. You're maybe not gonna find true love, but you can achieve the things that you want still. And I think she shows that with Lucy, that it's like, you know, if you're a bit of a bad egg, you can still reach your goals. You're just probably not gonna be as happy as the people who take the moral path.

JaneAustenRunsMyLife:
That's true. I mean she did really understand human nature and how different people act. So I'm sure she saw and maybe even people she interacted with. She probably saw Lucy out there who did very well for themself.

izzy:
Yeah, I can imagine so, absolutely, for sure. And is there any other parts within the book with Lucy that you want to touch on or any thoughts or other thoughts on Lucy?

JaneAustenRunsMyLife:
The other thing I always think of when I read Sense and Sensibility is that Kanye West song with Lucy. I ain't saying she's a gold digger, but she's not hanging out with a broke brother. She

izzy:
Yeah.

JaneAustenRunsMyLife:
chose the brother that was rich. And it's, it is wild to think that she, she just traded out her groom like that. Every time I read it, even if I've read it so many times, it's always that when I get to that part, it feels like the first time and I'm still like, I can't believe she just switched out grooms. It's interesting to see with, because you don't see that a lot, I feel like, with female characters, where to her, she was like, this doesn't really matter who it is, this is the goal that I want. And if I need the younger brother, then I'll take the younger brother.

izzy:
Yeah, it was like her target was the Ferris Fortu,

JaneAustenRunsMyLife:
Mm-hmm.

izzy:
not the man. That's really fascinating, I think, though that's what she does. But I agree, the way that she cuts off Edward as well is so bizarre. Like the letter that she sends him, and I love it at the end where she's like, "'Please burn all my letters, "'but you can keep

JaneAustenRunsMyLife:
I

izzy:
my

JaneAustenRunsMyLife:
know!

izzy:
lock of hair.'"

JaneAustenRunsMyLife:
So that you can pine after me.

izzy:
Some part of me is like, I don't know if she's delusional or what, but honestly, that letter's so, so bizarre. And I love that she's just really straight to the point. Like me and your brother, we have feelings for each other. We can't imagine life without each other. So I'm ending our engagement. And then that, you know, it's really bullsie. Like you were saying, like for this day and age, you don't see that very often. Like people, well, that day and age, you don't see it very often, people leaving one brother for the other. Like it just doesn't happen because it's a risky game to play, particularly as a woman to end an engagement. she really would have to be sure. And obviously Edward thinks back, doesn't he? Like, how long was this going on? Like, how were they even like forming this bond? And it says that obviously Robert had gone to Lucy to try and convince her not to marry Edward, like to leave him be. And Lucy kept saying, oh, you've nearly convinced me, but if you come back again, maybe you'll convince me tomorrow. And so Robert kept going back, trying to convince her not to marry Lucy. And then Lucy's obviously. drawn him in in that time. Again, it's super impressive. Like she is a villain, but she's... is an impressive character.

JaneAustenRunsMyLife:
She's one of those you hate and you admire. It is, it's just, it's unfathomable to me how one could do that where you're engaged to the brother and then you just start going after the other one and that she's just able to rearrange them and she feels so secure because like you said, breaking an engagement as a woman was really hard to get over. And she feels very confident and secure that, you know, once she breaks up with Edward, that Robert is going to marry her, that he's not just saying all the things to try and get her to break that engagement, that he's not just playing with her, he's not trying to fool her and get her out of this, that she's very confident that he is going to be her husband.

izzy:
Yeah, I think so. And I think obviously she's got this skill of like moving between the shadows because she spent so long in secrecy with her engagement to Edward. I guess it was easy for her to start all of like this situation of Robert up in secret and not really let on and like pretend that her and Edward were like gonna be like super happy and telling everybody that and everything. And obviously still leaving Edward on because it wasn't like he thought, you know, I'll let you out of the engagement or what have you like because I'm going to be poor now. But Lisi does look out for herself. I don't think she could give a flying fig what happened instead, but she was just like, right, who's got the money now?

JaneAustenRunsMyLife:
She

izzy:
Cause

JaneAustenRunsMyLife:
doesn't.

izzy:
that's where I need to

JaneAustenRunsMyLife:
And

izzy:
be.

JaneAustenRunsMyLife:
she's able to win over Fanny and Mrs. Barris too, so that she's able to get the brother, the money, and the family. It's amazing how she's able to, she's like this master chess player and she moved all the pieces around just right so that she could win without you even realizing it.

izzy:
It's bizarre. I know, isn't that so crazy? And obviously Austin makes the point of saying that they didn't, they never truly forgave Eleanor. And it's like, what's Eleanor? Like, obviously she's got the man that she loves, but she's not taking anything from them really. Uh, but Lucy's welcome back in with Robert. I think it's just amazing really, when you think about it. Um, yeah, she really does. You know, she puts all the eggs in one basket and it pays off.

JaneAustenRunsMyLife:
It's amazing.

izzy:
Yeah, it's honestly truly, it's truly bizarre. But yeah, I mean, that was everything I heard on my thoughts on Lucy in general. She is both despicable and fascinating at the same time, I think is what I gauged when I was like reading through, I was like, gosh, she's truly awful, but also very skillful.

JaneAustenRunsMyLife:
I agree. She is a master. This is her masterpiece. She's an artist. This is her masterpiece. She's able to just create it so almost like weaving. She weaved everything just perfectly and she made this. She's able to achieve what she wanted.

izzy:
Yeah, I think so. I think so for sure. But that was so much fun to talk through. I find this, yeah, it's just such an interesting character. It's fun to kind of talk through all the details of her. Do you want to let people know where they can

JaneAustenRunsMyLife:
Sure,

izzy:
find you?

JaneAustenRunsMyLife:
so I'm on Instagram and I'm on WordPress and Facebook and my title is Jane Austen Runs My Life So you can just type that in and you'll find me

izzy:
Yes, and your blog posts are amazing. Obviously all the stuff you share on Instagram as well. Like I really enjoy a lot of your blog posts. So I really recommend everybody going and checking out Leia's page over there and obviously tag it all in the bio. So you'll be able to find everything easily. But Leia, I've really enjoyed today. So thank

JaneAustenRunsMyLife:
Thank

izzy:
you so

JaneAustenRunsMyLife:
you again

izzy:
much for

JaneAustenRunsMyLife:
for

izzy:
coming

JaneAustenRunsMyLife:
having

izzy:
on.

JaneAustenRunsMyLife:
me. I had so much fun.

izzy:
Thank you. That's everything from us and I will see you in another episode. I just stopped the recording there.

(Cont.) Episode 40: Lucy Steele with @janeaustenrunsmylife | L is for Liability series