Lady Susan is a nightmare, dressed like a daydream

There is exquisite pleasure in subduing an insolent spirit, in making a person pre-determined to dislike, acknowledge one’s superiority.”

Jane Austen, Lady Susan

Lady Susan is a character we love to hate but you can’t fault her logic. There is pleasure in making those who dislike us admire, respect or at least acknowledge you’re better than them at something. True, not many of us do it quite so intentionally or maliciously as she does.

I have seen this dangerous creature… She is really excessively pretty… I have seldom seen so lovely a woman as Lady Susan. She is delicately fair, with fine grey eyes and dark eyelashes; and from her appearance one would not suppose her more than five and twenty, though she must in fact be ten years older. I was certainly not disposed to admire her, though always hearing she was beautiful; but I cannot help feeling that she possesses an uncommon union of symmetry, brilliancy, and grace. Her address to me was so gentle, frank, and even affectionate, that, if I had not known how much she has always disliked me… and that we had never met before, I should have imagined her an attached friend.

Jane Austen, Lady Susan, Letter 6

Lady Susan runs on the philosophy of keep your friends close and your enemies closer, so long as they’re of use to you. The Vernon’s can currently give her a home so they make that list.

Pippa pointed out that it sounds like Mrs Vernon is discovering her same sex attraction. It’s surprising Amme didn’t also mention it when we discussed Letter 6 especially as she pointed out Catherine’s attraction to Isabella. (Extended versions of Pippa and Amme’s Lady Susan episodes are available on Ko-Fi.) It’s a good point, Mrs Vernon gives a lengthy and detailed description – I even cut a few bits.

Underneath her beauty and charm (daydream) is a callous, manipulative, revengeful centre (nightmare). She’s probably studied her Shakespeare (actually she would make a great Lady Macbeth).

Look Like Th’ Innocent Flower, But Be The Serpent Under ‘T”

Shakespeare, Macbeth Act 1, Scene 5

Blank Space is a tongue in cheek response to the media’s portrayal of Taylor Swift as an unstable man eater. Many of the lyrics could be about Lady Susan; she views love as a game, everyone’s heard rumours about her, she’s excellent at appearing to be someone’s ideal and is well aware she’ll leave the men behind her scarred.

If you’d like to discuss Austen with me you can book a Read With Me session

And then there’s Miss Crawford….

Note how often Miss Crawford appears in shades of red in this adaptation. I think it’s only when she turns up thinking Tom is dying that she’s wearing a different colour – black, appropriately.