The Stringers. Two characters in the series are developed far beyond what Jane Austen had in her original text. There is only one instance of the name “Stringer” in the Sanditon novel.
But it occurs to me that we ought to go elsewhere upon such occasions, and that old Stringer and his son have a higher claim. I encouraged him to set up, you know, and am afraid he does not do very well.– A Project Gutenberg Australia eBook
The quote above comes from Tom Parker speaking of purchasing vegetables or fruits for consumption from the Stringers. There is no mention of the Stringers otherwise. The creators and writers of the Sanditon series have given Young Stringer and Old Stringer occupations in construction for the series. Old Stringer is a stonemason.1 Young Stringer is the foreman on the job, overseeing the construction of the new housing for Sanditon.
Let’s take a brief look at Old Stringer. He is a man from another generation who holds values that younger generations may deem outdated. Stringer, although poor, is a man of menial labor, who understands his place in the world, and has come to terms with who he is. Right or wrong, his ancestors passed on their values to him. Old Stringer doesn’t understand why those values are not good enough for his son. “This life’s been good enough for me. And it were enough for my father. Aye, and his father before that.”
He is a stubborn old man who doesn’t give his son any encouragement to better himself because those ideas are above his station in life. Charlotte thinks ambition is a quality to be admired. Old Stringer even complains about how many candles his son wasted designing a pagoda. “Young ‘un was up half the night with it. Wasted three candles!” Even Jane Austen’s family did their best to limit the number of lit candles after dark. To illuminate a room was quite literally like burning money. Hence the expression, “the game’s not worth the candle.” Old Stinger’s comment makes sense.
Regardless of how his father felt, Young Stringer should be commended for wanting to better himself, seeking a career as an architect. Charlotte admired him for that ambition, but unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to tempt her romantically where Young Stringer was concerned. We all know that the love story was between Sidney and Charlotte, but if we could rewrite things in the spirit of #TeamStringer, what could he have done differently to gain Charlotte’s affections?
As far as I’m concerned, Young Stinger was an agreeable young man. He certainly didn’t lack in good looks. Beyond his ambitions, he was a good employee and foreman, despite having to deal with Tom Parker’s nonsense. Rightfully so, he stands up for the rights of his workers. He loses his temper where it’s validated, such as at the cricket match. However, his harsh words toward his father are regretted after he dies. “And soon enough, I’ll have left Sanditon, and I won’t spare a moment’s thought for the selfish, miserable old man I left behind!“
Young Stringer, however, is shy and tongue-tied when it comes to Charlotte. She treats him like a friend, and he responds in like manner rather than expressing his feelings openly. His friend admonishes him, “If you don’t tell her, how will she ever know?” Charlotte never really does catch on to his affections toward her, and why she is blind to that fact is something I cannot figure out. Most of what Stringer says to her is veiled in meaning. He outwardly praises her strong personality. She compliments him by saying, “Would that all men could be like you.” Perhaps that gave Stringer an ounce of hope.
Perhaps he never confesses that love because he’s constantly observing the interactions between Charlotte and Sidney from afar. If you watch closely, you see him observing their interactions often. When Charlotte apologizes to Sidney, and he rudely tells her he doesn’t care, as she storms off down the street, he’s watching her retreat. He observes Sidney screaming at her while they argue after Miss Lambe sees Mr. Molyneux. Again, you find Stringer in other scenes, like at the regatta. He’s reading a book and watching the interaction between Sidney and Charlotte. There are many instances where he sees what transpires between them. Perhaps because he cares so much for Charlotte, he defers to what he knows she wants rather than attempting to gain her affections as a rival to Sidney.
He has no qualms about telling Sidney after the boat race it wasn’t the prize he was after, which makes me wonder if Sidney even understood the meaning behind his statement.
All in all, Stringer would have made a good husband to Charlotte. I speculate about scenes and thoughts of the characters we never get to see played out. What thoughts did Charlotte have about him? Was she genuinely blind to his feelings? What was the reason she didn’t value him as a potential husband or was it because she just wasn’t looking to marry as she said?
Whatever the reason, the two go their separate ways with Stringer deciding to stay in Sanditon to see the rebuilding and Charlotte returning home. Since Leo Suter could not reprise his role as Young Stringer due to other commitments, I’m assuming the writers will have him eventually accept that apprenticeship in London to be an architect. It’s worth reading their final parting words. Perhaps in this goodbye, Stringer silently hoped that Charlotte would return to Sanditon, and he could eventually win her heart.
Stringer: Miss Heywood.
Charlotte: I just came to say goodbye.
Stringer: I appreciate you taking the trouble, miss. Do you expect to return to Sanditon again?
Charlotte: I hope so… but I cannot say for certain. When do you leave for London?
Stringer: I’m not leaving. I’ve decided I owe it to my father’s memory to stay here… at least until the new works are completed. I gather Mr Sidney Parker is engaged.
Charlotte: Yes. I-I wish them both every happiness.
Stringer: She’s not half the woman you are, Charlotte. If he can’t see that, he doesn’t deserve you.
Charlotte: Thank you, Mr Stringer.
Stringer: Goodbye, Charlotte.Read more at: https://tvshowtranscripts.ourboard.org/viewtopic.php?f=296&t=38019
Perhaps we need a Stringer spin-off fan fiction. It could be a bumpy ride in his attempt to better himself, and perhaps along the way he finds his HEA too.
1A little personal trivia. My great grandfather from Manchester was a stone mason who came to Canada to work on Chateau Laurier in Ottawa.