Characters / Lady Susan

Lady Susan Vernon

A recently widowed woman and a renowned flirt, Lady Susan is uninterested in the ideals and accomplishments ascribed by society to her station and gender. She is indifferent towards her daughter, cynical when it comes to the affairs of the heart and completely devoted to regaining financial stability and stirring waters as much as she can through her uncanny machinations.

  • Abusive Mother: Her Magic Mirror must have told her Frederica is the Fairest of Them All or something.
  • Accomplice by Inaction: It ends up being Catherine's opinion on anyone who falls prey to Lady Susan's charm and lets her abuse her adorable daughter. Being the Only Sane Woman is stressful!
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: She poses as a concerned mother and defenseless, delicate woman, but she is completely heartless and self-interested.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: She doesn't genuinely love anyone but herself, has no qualms about manipulating anybody to achieve her goals, and is completely indifferent to the damage her flirting and affairs cause to other people. She is however, very funny in the completely casual way in which she displays her hypocrisy, and her machinations are entertaining to watch.
  • Consummate Liar: Lying comes very naturally to her and she has honed this skill close to perfection.
  • Determinator: She will be rich again, and she will sacrifice anyone for that purpose.
  • Evil Feels Good:
    Lady Susan: I call on you, dear Alicia, for congratulations: I am my own self, gay and triumphant! ... I hope you will be satisfied with my speech. Its effect on Reginald justifies some portion of vanity, for it was no less favourable than instantaneous. Oh, how delightful it was to watch the variations of his countenance while I spoke! to see the struggle between returning tenderness and the remains of displeasure. There is something agreeable in feelings so easily worked on; not that I envy him their possession, nor would, for the world, have such myself; but they are very convenient when one wishes to influence the passions of another.
  • Forbidden Friendship: Alicia Johnson's husband recognizes her for the bad influence and questionable company that she really is and forbids his wife from spending time with her, which outrages Lady Susan. Fortunately for her, Mrs. Johnson has no inclination to listen to her husband.
  • For the Evulz:
    Lady Susan: I have disconcerted [Reginald] already by my calm reserve, and it shall be my endeavour to humble the pride of these self important De Courcys still lower, to convince Mrs. Vernon that her sisterly cautions have been bestowed in vain, and to persuade Reginald that she has scandalously belied me. This project will serve at least to amuse me.
  • Gold Digger: She wants to marry a super wealthy guy.
  • The Hedonist: Only concerned with her own pleasure and entertainment.
  • Hypocrite: Outrageously so. She talks constantly about how self-sacrificing, reasonable and blameless she is, when in reality, she is close to being a sociopath.
  • It's All About Me: Supremely selfish and concerned only with her own pleasure and advantages. She pushes and manipulates her daughter to accept a marriage she does not want, has an affair with a married man and destroys his marriage, leads Reginald on and manipulates him and the list goes on.
  • Manipulative Bitch:
    Lady Susan: I could not reconcile it to myself to force Frederica into a marriage from which her heart revolted, and instead of adopting so harsh a measure merely propose to make it her own choice, by rendering her thoroughly uncomfortable till she does accept him.
  • Mrs. Robinson: She manages to seduce Reginald who is ten years younger.
  • Rich Bitch: Eventually.
  • Static Character: She remains the same selfish, manipulative, lying and destructive woman she was in the beginning of the book or film.
  • The Thing That Would Not Leave: For the Vernons. She keeps extending her visit even though she's not welcome.
  • The Vamp: A great beauty and seductress, she wreaks havoc with her selfishness, capriciousness and manipulation.
  • Villain Protagonist: A rare example.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Although she is known as a flirt, she works very hard to appear the victim of malicious gossip.
  • What Is This Thing You Call "Love"?:
    Lady Susan
    Letter 19: She is actually falling in love with Reginald De Courcy! To disobey her mother by refusing an unexceptionable offer is not enough; her affections must also be given without her mother's approbation. ... Artlessness will never do in love matters; and that girl is born a simpleton who has it either by nature or affectation.
    Letter 25: [Frederica's] idle love for Reginald, too! It is surely my duty to discourage such romantic nonsense.

Frederica Vernon

The meek and shy daughter of Lady Susan, she alternates from being bullied to being ignored by her beautiful mother. When her father dies and her family's financial situation becomes unstable, her mother tries to marry her off to a simpleton whom Frederica is not interested in.

  • Because You Were Nice to Me: She is extremely bewildered at the thought that someone would be kind to her without ulterior motives.
  • Book Worm: She loves reading and always finds her way to a library.
  • Character Development: She grows increasingly plucky and assertive over the course of the story.
  • English Rose: She's very pretty young girl with delicate complexion, pleasant oval face and mild dark eyes. She also timid, good-hearted girl and extremely shy and dejected because of her mother. However, to the Vernons she's very affectionate.
  • Friend to All Children: Her little cousins all become very fond of her.
  • Good Is Not Dumb: Evilness is not hereditary. Street smarts are.
  • Guile Heroine: Living in the shadow of her mother never taught her a thing about everything you can do with deviousness and social skills. It did, however, give her the time to think of all the things which can thwart them.
  • Hero Antagonist: She seems harmless, woobtastic enough, until she becomes a major threat to her mother's plans.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: The Tear Jerker reveal of her real personality is both a relief and a proof that Lady Susan saw her chance at redemption, and trod upon it repeatedly until she had beaten out trust and self-esteem.
  • Nerves of Steel: Like her mother, she never loses her cool. Unlike her mother, she has not learnt to submit all emotions to her selfish will, but rather to quickly find a way to get rid of the abuser in emergency situations.
  • Shrinking Violet: A sadly justified example.
  • Undying Loyalty: To her father, and later the Vernons. Subverted Trope when it comes to her mother.

Catherine Vernon

The wife of Lady Susan's brother-in-law, she is very displeased when Lady Susan visits her home indefinitely. One of the few characters to notice Lady Susan's machinations and abusive treatment of her daughter.

  • Big Good: She works tirelessly to undermine and undo Lady Susan's damage and to protect Frederica from her.

Mrs Alicia Vernon

Lady Susan's best (and only) friend and confidante, and the person who admires her most. They are such good friends that Alicia secretly defied her husband when he forbid her from not seeing Lady Susan anymore.

  • Forbidden Friendship: Her husband Mr. Johnson forbids her from spending time with her friend Lady Susan because he knows that she is a terrible influence on his wife. Alicia only pretends to obey him.
  • Gold Digger: Implied to have married him for his money. She regards Lady Susan's wish for him to die so she could be free endearing.
  • Rich Bitch: She is ethically corrupt enough to admire Lady Susan.

Lady de Courcy

Sir James Martin

Mr. Reginald De Courcy

Charles Vernon

Lady Susan's brother-in-law.