Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

Egads, Those Cads of Literature

You know who they are.  Those bad boys who jilt the girl, cheat the honest friend, and play havoc with the plot.  They are the cads of literature.  Having finished Jane Austen’s Persuasion I have added Mr. Elliot to the list.  His subterfuge was most deplorable.  Then again, I do adore how she swiftly cast him aside for someone much more worthy of her devotion.  My favorite heroines have done just that–put those cads in their place.  Since I am on a Jane Austen revisiting read here are some cads that live in her books:

Henry Crawford (Mansfield Park)–I detected cad from the very start

Frank Churchill (Emma)–what a naughty game you played with so many hearts

Oh, Willoughby (Sense and Sensibility)–we wanted so much to like you

Elliot (Persuasion)–did you really think you could turn Anne’s head or her heart away from Wentworth?

Tsk tsk, Wickham (Pride and Prejudice)–your charm could not cover your secret faults


As to Northhanger Abbey, I haven’t decided who the cad truly is.  It’s up on my list to review.  As to other literary cads–any nominees?  Rhett Butler comes to mind, but then was he a cad or simply a foil for Scarlett?

Happy reading!

English: Engraving of Steventon rectory, home ...

English: Engraving of Steventon rectory, home of the Austen family during much of Jane Austen’s lifetime (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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11 thoughts on “Egads, Those Cads of Literature

  1. I just finished reading Persuasion too. I knew that she’d end up with Wentworth at the end – anyone could see that. But Mr Elliot was certainly very persuasive for a while and I got a bit worried! I don’t think I enjoyed it as much as other Austen work, but it was still a decent read.

  2. I don’t think of Rhett as a cad — more like a rogue. To my mind, he’s the only one in Gone with the Wind with any sense. He does care about others — witness his good treatment of Melanie/Mammie and being bluntly honest with Scarlett for her own good (I’m going by what I’ve seen of the movie, mind you, I haven’t read the book).

    Ah, Willoughby, you had potential, but you blew it when you chose money over love.

  3. Actually, Rhett is more rogue–I’m going off the Clark Gable version and he’s always a rogue, in my mind. Drat that Willoughby…

  4. Cads of literature. What a great topic!

    • I’m pondering upon the real difference between rogues and cads…

      • I think the difference is the level of loveability (is that a word) exhibited by the rogue or the cad. With the cad, he goes just one step too far (whatever that action) and the reader is willing to say “Bah! I’m better off without you.” The rogue skates that line and nimbly lands always on the better of side of it. Kinda vague, huh? In the end, maybe it’s rather subjective.

      • I think you are on to something there with the one step over the line. Willoughby took two steps, while I think Rhett toed up to it and we were all okay with it, I mean he was dealing with Scarlett, after all.

      • Exactly! The Rogue or the Cad is also judged on the circumstances. He gets a lot of leeway since he was dealing with Scarlett, but also because he truly loved her.

        William Elliot, Frank Churchill, and Wickham were toying with the leading lady and which crosses the line into cad territory. Willoughby is interesting because he really loved Marianne, yet we think of him as a cad because of how he treats Marianne thereafter. He snubs her, pretends that she misread his feelings and thinks nothing of her heartbreak.

        In the end, maybe the difference is love and honesty. Rhett claims he does not love but his actions indicate otherwise. The other guys are quite the opposite.

  5. Pingback: Gently Persuaded | cricketmuse

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