Jane Austen is known for her love stories and social commentary. There are many noble, witty, and comical characters in her novels, but today let’s look at the characters that are lacking in virtue.
John Willoughby from Sense and Sensibility
A wolf in sheep’s clothing, Willoughby appears to be a dashing knight in shining armor, but those of us who love Austen know that appearances can be deceiving. Austen often repeated names in her novels, including the classic John. John is a Hebrew name meaning God is gracious that is quite common at Number 26 in popularity. Willoughby may be a scandalous heart-breaker but his surname is fun to say. Willoughby is an English surname meaning farm by the willows. I always thought it would make for a cool pet name. If you’re looking for an alternative to more popular names Willow or William, Willoughby may make for a great choice. In 2014 six boys and seven girls were named Willoughby.
George Wickham from Pride and Prejudice
Perhaps Austen had a thing for the letter ‘W’ when she was naming her scoundrels. I wonder if she picked the name Wickham because it fittingly mirrors the beginning sound of the word wicked. The name Wickham comes from the Old English word wicham, which was a term for a town settlement. George, a Greek name meaning farmer, is currently Number 134 in popularity. Though George has recently risen a bit in the United States, it remains most popular in England and Wales where it is currently Number 7. I wonder if Prince George of Cambridge will inspire more usage of this classic choice.
Henry Crawford from Mansfield Park
Henry Crawford stands out among Austen’s antagonist because we know from the start that he’s up to no good. Jane Austen had a few sets of conniving sibling duos, Henry and Mary Crawford being one of them. Henry is a German name meaning estate ruler that has steadily been rising in charts. Currently ranked at Number 33, Henry hasn’t been this popular since the early 1940s. Crawford would be a cool way to get to the nickname Ford. Crawford comes from an Old English surname meaning the ford where crows gather. Sixty boys and surprisingly six girls were named Crawford last year. Fordham and Bradford are also cool choices if you like the sound of Ford.
Frank Churchill from Emma
Frank Churchill is arguably most forgivable of Austen’s antagonists. While Churchill is a selfish flirt, he does not ruin the honor of naïve young women, unlike most on this list, and we do come to understand his reasoning. Churchill may be a surname not fitting to cross over as a first name, though Frank makes for a classic choice. Frank comes from the name Francis meaning Frenchman. Frank is beginning to slip in popularity, currently coming in at Number 336. Other great variations of Frank include Franklin, Francisco, and Franco.
John Thorpe from Northanger Abbey
John Thorpe one half of another unvirtuous sibling set. John and his sister Isabella are irritating and unscrupulous. Thorpe is the second of Austen’s antagonists to be named John, a familiar name that has numerous variations in other languages. A few familiar forms of John include Evan, Giovanni, Ian, Juan, Sean, and Shane. If you’re looking for a less common variant, you might consider Ivo, Johan, Johannes, or Yannick.
William Elliot from Persuasion
I could argue that the situation itself is the antagonist in Persuasion, but I think William Elliot is deceptive enough in his intentions to share in that title. William Elliot is obsessed with his title and inheritance, but he does have two very handsome names. William is the most popular name on our list today at Number 5. English from a German name, William means resolute protection. Elliot is another well-loved name that is increasing in popularity for both boys and girls. Elliot comes from an English surname meaning Jehovah is God.
Weigh in on your favorite name from Austen’s Bad Boys:
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