I love Charlotte. Frankly, I don’t think I’ve ever been in such awe of a Jane Austen heroine as I am her. Here is what Jane wrote about our beloved Charlotte:
Their invitation was to Miss Charlotte Heywood, a very pleasing young woman of two and twenty, the eldest of the daughters at home and the one who, under her mother’s directions, had been particularly useful and obliging to them; who had attended them most and knew them best.A Project Gutenberg Australia eBook
These feelings were not the result of any spirit of romance in Charlotte herself. No, she was a very sober-minded young lady, sufficiently well-read in novels to supply her imagination with amusement, but not at all unreasonably influenced by them.A Project Gutenberg Australia eBook
Much of what remains about Charlotte in Jane’s unfinished novel are her observations of Sanditon, the Parkers, the Denhams, and Clara. She appears to be amused and entertained, but curious and naive as we also see her in Sanditon on screen. Of course, most of her personality was fleshed out by Andrew Davies and the writers, taking Charlotte beyond the short eleven chapters written by Jane.
What impresses me about Charlotte? Besides the fact that she is outspoken and can’t help but speak her mind, she is very kindhearted and self-sacrificing. Naturally, we all admire her for her spirited replies to Lady Denham and her anger towards Mr. Parker over his “insensitivities” to the human heart. Charlotte is not the typical simpering Regency lady, and Stringer recognized her qualities early on admiring and accepting her.
Sanditon, of course, opens her eyes to a whole new world beyond her life on the farm and ten siblings. It’s obvious that being the oldest in the family, that Charlotte has cared for her younger brothers and sisters, and already possesses all the qualities of what would make a good mother. Even Sidney notices how good she is with children.
On the other hand, she’s not just domestic, she loves to read books and can quote Heraclitus. (Okay, I admit it. I never heard of the man, but figured based on that name he must be Greek. Sure enough says Wikipedia: “Heraclitus of Ephesus was an Ancient Greek, pre-Socratic, Ionian philosopher and a native of the city of Ephesus, which was then part of the Persian Empire.”)
No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.
Though she hasn’t experienced much of the world, other than what she has read in books (says Sidney), in spite of her youth she possesses so many wonderful qualities. Those that stand out to me the most are:
- She is sympathetic and considers the feelings of others.
- She apologizes with a heart of sincerity if she offends anyone.
- She is a friend to those in need.
- She is supportive of the endeavors of others.
- She recognizes the beauty in nature and people.
- She is understanding even when it hurts.
- She’s industrious; she’s smart; she plays cricket; she has regatta ideas; she will dance with anyone regardless of class; and she’s not afraid of the sight of blood.
Of course, she is young, naive in some respects when it comes to men. However, she’s not that naive to forgo giving Sidney this look because she knows it’s not a boarding house.
From what we have heard in Season 2, Charlotte returns nine months later having matured from her experiences. A broken heart can make or break you, and unlike Sidney, I know that Charlotte is strong enough in character that she will return better for it. I believe she will be cautious when it comes to men and not quite ready to open her heart up just yet. However, by the look on her face in the promotional pictures of her dancing with Lennox, she’s not going to let the disappointments of the past prevent her from enjoying the good moments when they come.
So what do you think of Charlotte?
Below is the interview with Rose Williams prior to Season 1 being released. Here is what she has to say about Charlotte.