I think the most shocking storyline in season three of Sanditon is the character arc of Edward Denham. Threatened by his aunt, hosed at Dr. Fuchs’s direction, and the rigorous chores assigned along with spiritual guidance by Reverend Hankins were the means to reform Edward of his misguided ways. No doubt his aunt’s criticism played a part as well. By the end of the show, we are left scratching our heads with the outcome. The writers have left the audience to make its conclusion on whether Sir Edward Denham is redeemed or irredeemable. (By the way, if you haven’t watched the Apple TV Movie “Spirited,” the matter of redeemable and irredeemable means a bit more.)

Jane Austen originally had this to say about Edward.

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…

Jane Austen – Sanditon


As I wrote in my original character synopsis (Read Here), “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.” Edward Denham showed himself to be a manipulator, liar, fortune seeker, corrupted by greed, and with no conscience when it came to using women for sexual pleasure (his interludes with Clara in the woods and on the drawing-room floor).

If that wasn’t bad enough, he returns in season two, having joined the army, confessing that he is a changed man. As the season unfolds, he turns into a vindictive poisoner, out to make Esther insane and destroy her relationship with Babington. He confesses to Clara it’s revenge because she dared to leave. By the end of the season, he’s kicked out of the army and crawls back to his aunt so he doesn’t starve and end up homeless on the street. Out of desperation, he takes her offer of rigorous work and spiritual education, because he has nowhere else to go. He has reaped the consequences of his former bad behavior but at this point it hasn’t brought any lasting change.

It was worth a good chuckle to see him hosed at the beginning of the season, enduring the splashing waters meant to dissuade further bad behavior. You might enjoy this historical blog post entitled, “Madness in their Method: Water Therapy in Georgian and Regency Times” by Lucinda Brant. And who would have thought later on that we would see Edward on his knees in church, confessing what a wretched sinner he is in this life. Can we really believe that he feels such remorse, or is it merely words to play along with the game of reformation with the Reverend?


From the first meet-cute between Augusta and Edward, we are shocked to learn the writers are actually going to follow this path. Apparently, there was much discussion about how this would be received by the audience. If you haven’t read Decider’s article about how this “scandalous” romance came about, you might be interested to know there was some pushback when this storyline was presented. Certainly, when pictures were released of the two of them together, the fandom gasped in unison. The audience was screaming, “danger, danger,” to Augusta.

When Edward bumps into her outside a shop and packages go flying every which way, I must say there seemed to be a hint of interest in his eyes. At that point, he didn’t know about her worth – 5,000 English pounds per year. Then there’s the age difference between the two of them. I guess in an Austen-esque way, we can theorize it wasn’t much different than Marianne Dashwood and Colonel Brandon’s age gap, or Emma and Mr. Knightley, for that matter. Apparently, Austen thought little of it since she made matches in her books with much younger women and older men.

It’s obvious from the get-go that Augusta is no fool when it comes to Edward. She has been warned by Mrs. Wheatley. She knows he’s a rogue but to what extent she knows of his former escapades is unknown. He’s a fathered a child, and poisoned his stepsister.

And so it begins. Edward decides to take up poetry and stalking. I think what bothered me initially was that Augusta, very early on, lies to her uncle so she can speak with Edward on the sly. Outside the tea room, she claims she left behind a glove when in reality she wants to talk to Edward hiding behind the column. His first enticement is that he intends to write a poem and asks if she would cast her eye upon it, acting as if he cares for her opinion. Off he goes to the church to attempt to write poetry, but alas, he eventually confesses to Augusta it was a lost cause. Augusta questions his motives immediately.


Can I ask you something, Sir Edward? Do you think me a fool? You expect me to believe that this sudden change in sentiment towards me is genuine. Did it not occur the very moment that you discovered I am due to an inheritance? So, I ask you again. Do you think me a fool?

Sanditon – Season 3

At first, Augusta has his number. She’s questioning his motives, as she should. Edward, however, is not easily detered. He sends her a note, and Augusta feigns a headache to get out of the evening recital to meet him for a walk. It’s the second time she has lied to be with Edward. The taste of forbidden fruit has dangled in front of her too often.

As Edward lures her alone to walk and ride, Augusta continually questions him about his reputation. Of course, it’s the same old line.

I am no longer the man my reputation suggests.

Sanditon – Season 3


He’s trying to convince her, but is he convincing the audience? Let’s not forget Clara and his escapades in the woods. Rolling like a snake on the parlor floor and fathering a child out of wedlock. Getting revenge because Esther dared to find happiness beyond his control. After his cruelty toward Esther in season two, he crossed a line in my mind. It’s challenging to believe that this despicable individual has been changed from a hose watering him down and from religious education and hard work. Augusta challenges him to prove it. “By their fruits, ye shall know them.”

At the shooting party, she encourages Edward to seek her uncle’s consent to court and convince Colbourne that his intentions are honorable. How could any father or uncle, for that matter, having known of Edward’s past reputation, believe this man is honorable? Edward is quickly shot down by Colbourne, while others witness the exchange. Perhaps Edward thought asking for permission in public, he would have a better chance for a civil answer to his inquiry. His ploy flopped. The painful look on Edward’s face at the rejection is a proverbial slap across the face. It reveals to Edward that his past sins will not soon be forgotten by anyone in Sanditon, and they have become a millstone around his neck. If he wants Augusta, a new avenue must be taken, which sets in motion Augusta’s rebellion against her uncle’s edict to stay away from that man.


From this point forward, secrecy and deception ensue. Augusta goes behind her uncle’s back, while Edward begins a slow but methodical means of manipulating Augusta. At this point, I can see no clear indication that he is in love with her other than her five thousand per year. Like his past actions, if he can’t get what he wants, he goes to any means to obtain it. It’s the greed that burned his aunt’s will and greed that caused him to turn against Esther. He’s such a master at deceit, trusting him is difficult.

Now that Augusta’s uncle has been “forbidden” her to see him, it only pushes her into her escape mode, wanting Edward to rescue her from the so-called prison. Edward sees her vulnerability and takes the opportunity to play upon her desperation. On the other hand, should we believe he holds genuine feelings for Augusta? Since her uncle has told him to take a hike, he now has to revert to manipulation and deceit to get the young lady.

Okay, so here we are in the story after exchanging letters with each other. (By the way, that was a no-no in the Regency era to exchange letters with a man you were not engaged to marry.) After their continued little rendezvouses, Edward doubles down with this declaration. Oh, Augusta, I love you so much, I must leave Sanditon because I cannot bear to live in the town where you reside when we cannot be together.


Right, Edward. You will leave Sanditon penniless and homeless because you cannot bear to be without Augusta. Oh, dear, she swallows his declaration hook, line, and sinker. Wait! Don’t leave! She runs after him. We were meant to be together! Let’s hatch a plan and run away! Augusta wants to escape, and in reality, let’s face it, so does Edward. He’s tired of the waterboarding, the raking of leaves, the roof repairs, the constant dull religious instruction, and pandering to his demanding aunt. Edward and Augusta need each other for different reasons.

It’s evident at the party that Edward isn’t going to give her time to think about the decision. He’s packed a bag and a carriage is waiting. After some misguided advice from Charlotte, who has no idea it’s Edward Denham, Augusta runs away with the intention of eloping to live her happily ever after fairytale romance with Sir Edward. He is no fool. He’s pressuring Augusta to make the life-changing decision split second, giving her no opportunity to think about it. It’s a brilliant move on his part, as the master of manipulation grabs her hand and spirits her off down the dark street of Sanditon to a waiting carriage.

Okay, back to motives. Does he love her, or doesn’t he? Will he seduce her, or won’t he? Does the man have a heart, or doesn’t he? At this point, I’m inclined to say that the fruit of his actions says otherwise. He’s not doing the honorable thing by Augusta, even though Augusta thinks that he is since he hasn’t bedded her yet. Nevertheless, did Edward have other choices? Sure, he did. He could have continued to prove to others he was a changed man, and eventually, by his fruits, people would have noticed something had transpired to change him. Would Alexander eventually have come around to allow him to court Augusta? Yes, I think the scenario could have gone down other roads, but the writers didn’t take those paths. After all, we only have six episodes and not six years to watch Edward grow and mature into a decent human being.


Okay, their plan worked, and they are in a room at Falmouth (as the fandom questions why run west instead of north to Scotland). Regardless of the reason, we are now seeing the two of them in a most scandalous situation. Let’s face it. In the Regency era, Augusta is already ruined even though she hasn’t had sex with Edward. No unmarried woman would lodge with an unmarried man in the same room. She’s crossed the line already, basing her belief in Edward as a good man who will not take it any farther. She questions Edward’s love.

How could you ask me that? I love you more than I’ve ever loved another breathing soul.

Sanditon Season 3

More than Esther? I doubt he really loved her, either. What he enjoyed about that relationship was her constant pining over him and the game of control he played with her emotions. Perhaps, Augusta was the first time he had truly loved. Do you believe it? I’ll be frank. I sincerely question it. Perhaps he held a small amount of affection. However, not all is lost.

As the story unfolds and Colbourne calmly asks Augusta to reconsider, something happens to Edward. He watches the exchange, hears the words that she is a remarkable woman, and something inside him snaps. It’s that realization that this exceptional young lady deserves much more than he could ever give her. I don’t think it was love that made him change course at this point in time. Frankly, I think a spark of conscience pierced his soul for the first time and brought a realization he’d never experienced before. He was faced with a decision. Continue the charade or do the right thing. Of course, Edward doesn’t know how to articulate doing the right thing, so he reverts to cruel behavior to shock Augusta to the core. He planned to seduce her. He wanted her money. He hasn’t changed. She’s naive and delusional if she thinks she could be the one to change him. At that point, it hurt not only Augusta but it pained him. He suffers the consequences of making a sacrifice. By the way, kudos to Jack Fox! What a performance he gave!

Okay, if you haven’t seen the movie Spirited this past Christmas on Apple TV about the redeemable and irredeemable in this life, I must say I constantly compared this scenario to Edward Denham. The whole question of the story here is Edward Denham redeemable. One very poignant line in the movie, after someone who was considered irredeemable makes a sacrifice to save another, comes this line.

Your sacrifice would have no meaning if it had no consequence.

Spirited Movie – Apple TV

Later, as Edward crawls back to his aunt with his tail between his legs, you see that he is suffering.

Did he actually possess feelings for Augusta? Perhaps they were tainted by selfish motives, in my opinion, at the beginning. However, in the end, he knew she deserved someone much better than him. Even though Colbourne allowed him to take a potentially ruinous situation and make it right, he chose not to take the offer. Gee, did Edward make a sacrifice and do the right thing? Did that sacrifice redeem him in your eyes or not?



When Lady Denham doesn’t show up for her own wedding, Edward apologizes and looks directly at Augusta. It’s sort of an off-handed comment about the pain he caused her in their short entanglement.

Of course, the end is quite unbelievable. Apparently, Lady Denham is convinced of real change.

I shan’t pretend that Miss Markham was not an unfortunate lapse in judgment. But then again, you had the chance to ruin her and you did not. You urged me to marry Mr. Pryce, against your best interests. And you have shown me something remarkably like kindness.

Sanditon Season 3

Lady Denham gives Edward a living in the church, and we see him clad in religious robes as Charlotte and Alexander marry. Is it genuine or not?

Our last glimpse of him in Sanditon season three is turning his head to give an eye to another young lady walking by him. Is he back to his old tricks, or does Edward truly deserve his own HEA? Will he continue to evolve and eventually become a better man now that he has an occupation? Has he been born again to a new life and new possibilities? Will Edward Denham revert to his old ways if he is challenged and tempted again? We may never know, but we certainly can speculate.

So what say you? Chime in on the comments. This should be a fun discussion.


That’s all for now!


  1. ~ Edward Denham is clearly IRREDEEMABLE. Like most wayward souls, he repented of his repentance (it wasn’t from the heart). He appeased Mr. Hankins to get him off his back. He exploited Augusta in her ignorance (remember he asked if she was that naiive?). She knew from the beginning that he was after her fortune. It was also her first “love.” Remember, she asked him if he loved her and said, “I just need to hear you say it.” After Alexander and Charlotte arrived, Edward remarked that he was never in love with her, and that “I ALWAYS PUT MYSELF FIRST. Ask Esther, Clara and my son.” A wretched human being, preying on women for their money. When Lady Denham intervened in Season 2, she told him she sent Clara away, and that Esther and her son were returning to Lord Babington. That left him destitute and disowned (serves him right) for doing what he did. Near the end of Episode 5, Lady Denham said it best….it was a wonder that Alexander Colbourne didn’t shot him. Eloise Webb gave a compelling performance as did Ben Lloyd-Hughes. I believe that when actors are given a script–playing their part to the hilt (e.g. causing the audience hate them) then, they’ve done their job. Jack Fox was brilliant. ~

  2. Edward never cared for Esther or Clara. The two only served to advance his own selfish desires and motives. On the other hand, I do believe Edward cared for Augusta. Colbourne’s speech to his niece brought Edward to the realization that he needed to be a decent person and do the right thing for Augusta and her future. I feel that this was as close as he ever came to demonstrating love for another human being. (in some way, it is like the Grinch coming to understand the true meaning of Christmas when he heard the Who’s singing a joyous Christmas carol despite what he had done. 🙂 ) At first, I found Edward’s end to his story a little strange, but in retrospect, I think it was Lady Denham’s final act to reform him was by keeping Edward in check serving God.

    1. ~ Edward never intended to serve God, it was a rouse to convince Mr. Hankins and Lady Denham that he was reformed. No, he was [all] about serving himself. Remember the scene where he was outside the building sitting on his bum? As soon as Mr. Hankins arrived, he picks up the rake and starts raking leaves, pretending he was working. Who was he fooling? The sad thing is that Mr. Hankins had no discernment as to whether or not Edward was truly reformed. While at a hostel in Falmouth, Edward’s *ugly* side emerged. When he announced to Augusta that he was never in love with her; it was only her fortune he was after. That he always put himself first: “ask Esther, ask Clara, ask my son.” Not only was he irredeemable, he was irresponsible. Edward was clearly unrepentant, his game plan was to prey on women with considerable fortunes whom he found vulnerable, whom he could use for his own evil gain. Because of what happened to Clara, he knew that Lady Denham had disowned him, leaving him homeless and penniless. Which is why before Lady Denham’s wedding ceremony, Mr. Hankins told him, “you reap what you sow.” At Alexander and Charlotte’s reception, he was eyeing another woman. I kept saying to myself, “don’t even look his way; don’t become another victim.” But sadly, most women like her would learn the hard way. ~

  3. I think Edward may have felt some affection for Augusta at first, at least until Colbourne refuses to let him court her. Then Edward’s resentful, spiteful side comes out, and he starts looking for revenge. He certainly doesn’t like be thwarted (look at what he did to Esther!). I thought Edward’s actions took a decidedly sneaky, manipulative turn after Colbourne turned him away. Whatever affection he felt for Augusta was then trumped by his desire to win. I think his declaration to Augusta that he loves her more than he’s “ever loved **another** breathing soul” perfectly illustrates his character: Edward first and foremost loves himself. If he had succeeded in marrying Augusta, he would have secured his own financial status (which he’d been trying to do since Season 1) and would no longer need Lady Denham. He would clearly come out the winner, at least in terms of his own, selfish ends. I love the last-minute crisis of conscience, though. I also love how the camera focuses on Edward’s face when Colbourne is urging Augusta to consider whether Edward is truly the person she wants to marry. You can see the inner turmoil on his face.

    Side question: Outside the inn, when Edward tells Augusta she has “no reason to be nervous,” he looks really uncomfortable to me, almost like he’s trying to convince himself *he* can go through with the seduction. Did anyone else catch a slight pang of conscience at that point?

    1. I agree that Edward looked somewhat uncomfortable, and perhaps, it was at that point he began to question his motives. I think he had genuine feelings of love for Augusta. After Colbourne’s heartfelt speech to Augusta, it was evident by Edward’s expression of disbelief to Colbourne’s words that it was time for him to step up, and perhaps for once in his life, do right by Augusta. When he returned home and informed his aunt that he had ended the relationship, Lady Denham’s pointed remark about the possibility of Edward caring for Augusta led Edward to say sarcastically that she was mistaken as he was not capable of feelings. I do not think Edward will ever be completely redeemed, but as Lady Denham said, he did show examples of hope towards some type of redemption. While I initially thought Lady Denham’s choice of living for Edward was strange, I then realized that this was an appropriate and savvy decision on her part. After all, how ironic that a man such as Edward who only ever looked to served himself, must now spend a life serving God.

  4. I do think he loved Augusta and was redeemed by this love. I would have liked to see a romantic ending to his story.

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