Everyone loves a villain. I think it’s safe to say that Edward Denham fits the bill in many ways. He’s seducer, a manipulator, and a conniver among many things. He’s motivated by greed and has no moral compass or conscience to guide him. Jane Austen created Edward and penned the following in her original novel.
Sir Edward, the present baronet, nephew to Sir Harry, resided constantly at Denham Park; and Mr. Parker had little doubt that he and his sister, Miss Denham, who lived with him, would be principally remembered in her will. He sincerely hoped it. Miss Denham had a very small provision; and her brother was a poor man for his rank in society.
Sir Edward was much her superior in air and manner—certainly handsome, but yet more to be remarked for his very good address and wish of paying attention and giving pleasure.
Charlotte’s first glance told her that Sir Edward’s air was that of a lover. There could be no doubt of his devotion to Clara.
(Lady Denham, speaking) A handsome young fellow like him will go smirking and smiling about and paying girls compliments, but he knows he must marry for money. And Sir Edward is a very steady young man in the main and has got very good notions.
Sir Edward’s great object in life was to be seductive. With such personal advantages as he knew himself to possess, and such talents as he did also give himself credit for, he regarded it as his duty. He felt that he was formed to be a dangerous man, quite in the line of the Lovelaces. The very name of Sir Edward, he thought, carried some degree of fascination with it. To be generally gallant and assiduous about the fair, to make fine speeches to every pretty girl, was but the inferior part of the character he had to play. Miss Heywood, or any other young woman with any pretensions to beauty, he was entitled (according to his own view of society) to approach with high compliment and rhapsody on the slightest acquaintance. But it was Clara alone on whom he had serious designs; it was Clara whom he meant to seduce.– A Project Gutenberg Australia eBook
The writers of season one of Sanditon have taken this seducer and turned him into a despicable individual that by the end of episode eight, we are happy to see him disinherited and booted out of Sanditon. It makes you wonder if some people are just born rotten to the core (remember the pineapple), or if genes, upbringing, or the past turn them into people we love to despise on screen. Kudos to Jack Fox for his acting and facial expressions that portray Edward’s “boundless depths” of venality.
His relationship with Clara is interesting on screen, but as we can see above in Jane’s original version, he had designs on Clara to seduce her. Clara is no fool and far more experienced in the art of men in the screen version. The fact that she “takes him in hand” is quite shocking. She tells Charlotte that Edward forced her to do something she didn’t want, but frankly I believe she offered her services. As you view their relationship and tit-for-tat dialogues throughout the show, they play off each other’s weaknesses, looking at how they can get the upper hand as they vie for Lady Denham’s riches.
Edward’s relationship with his step-sister is truly despicable. As stated in my post about Esther, they grew up together in the same household. How the relationship evolved as it did is beyond my imagination. Did he learn this behavior from his father? He uses poor Esther at every turn. He manipulates her with his promises. He teases her sexually by brushing her hair and lacing her corset. He kisses her neck. He promises her that they will be together once they have the money, then slaps her with the reality that they must both marry for money as their aunt suggests. The power he wields over Esther is appalling, while he plays his little games flirting with Clara.
Of course, it all comes to a head with the red snake on the drawing-room floor. He and Clara go back and forth as to who will get what percentage of the inheritance. As the will is burning, the two filled with the lust of money and one another finally give in to a heated sexual encounter, showcasing their depravity. To top it off, he comes back after the incident and lies to Esther about the entire matter.
His punishment is fitting, of course. Edward’s last attempt to bring back Esther under his power since he believes she will have Lady Denham’s money is pathetic.
Esther… I have been such a fool, Esther! That little vixen Clara took advantage of me. I must have been mad! Tell me that you love me as I still love you!
Well, apparently, Edward is not done. As Jack Fox returns with his acting skills to give us Edward Denham, it will be interesting to see what is is in store. Does he come back begging for forgiveness? Is he reformed or still up to his old ways? I think he will be up to his old self. It’s pretty tough for a rascal to change after what he has done all for sake of greed.