Literary Fathers: As Depicted in the Works of Austen, Dickens, and Heyer

The Bridges Family by John Constable, 1805. (© Tate Museum, London, 2015)

The Bridges Family by John Constable, 1805.
(© Tate Museum, London, 2015)

It’s Father’s Day and, in celebration, I thought it would be a perfect time to take a brief look at a few of the many and varied fathers depicted in some of our favorite literary classics from the 19th century and beyond.

Beginning at the start of the 1800’s, we have a selection of kind, likable, and somewhat ineffective fathers from the works of Jane Austen.  These gentlemen are, in general, fairly benign.  They are not drunkards, womanizers, or wastrels.  Neither are they conniving, deceitful, or deluded.  Instead, they are content to fulfill their supporting role in the novel with a measure of humor – and a minimum of interference with our heroines.

Pride and Prejudice, First Edition, 1813.

Pride and Prejudice, First Edition, 1813.

The first father and certainly one of the most well-known is, of course, Mr. Bennet from Pride and Prejudice (1813).  Cursed with a very silly wife, five unmarried daughters, and no male heir, he is, as Austen describes him:

“…so odd a mixture of quick parts, sarcastic humour, reserve, and caprice, that the experience of three-and-twenty years had been insufficient to make his wife understand his character.”

It is not a surprise that Mr. Bennet is closest to his witty and intelligent daughter Elizabeth.  The two share much in common.  However, unlike Elizabeth, who is troubled by the way their family is viewed by the likes of Lady Catherine, Mr. Bingley’s sisters, and even, at first, Mr. Darcy, Mr. Bennet is happily unconcerned.  So unconcerned, in fact, that his actions occasionally contribute to their family being seen as ridiculous.  Mr. Darcy states as much in his disastrous first proposal:

“The situation of your mother’s family, though objectionable, was nothing in comparison to that total want of propriety so frequently, so almost uniformly betrayed by herself, by your three younger sisters, and occasionally even by your father.”

Painting of a family game of checkers by Louis-Léopold Boilly, 1803.

Painting of a family game of checkers by Louis-Léopold Boilly, 1803.

In Emma (1815), Austen introduces us to Emma’s father, Mr. Woodhouse.  Mr. Woodhouse is wealthier than Mr. Bennet, but when it comes to wit and intellect he suffers by comparison.  Early in the novel, Emma is faced with the imminent departure of her governess, Miss Taylor.  The result of this is that she will be left in the house with no companionship expect that of her father.  As Austen explains:

“She dearly loved her father, but he was no companion for her.  He could not meet her in conversation, rational or playful.

“The evil of the actual disparity in their ages (and Mr. Woodhouse had not married early) was much increased by his constitution and habits; for having been a valetudinarian all his life, without activity of mind or body, he was a much older man in ways than in years; and though everywhere beloved for the friendliness of his heart and his amiable temper, his talents could not have recommended him at any time.”

A Well to Do Family in the Streets of Paris by Louis Leopold Boilly, 1803.

A Well to Do Family in the Streets of Paris by Louis Leopold Boilly, 1803.

Not all the father’s in Jane Austen’s novels are as benign as Mr. Bennet and Mr. Woodhouse.  In Persuasion (1816), Anne Elliot’s father, Sir Walter Elliot, is a selfish – and pretentious – spendthrift, more concerned with the value of his family name than the value of his family itself.  Austen wastes no time in making his character clear to us.  The opening lines of Persuasion read as follows:

“Sir Walter Elliot, of Kellynch Hall, in Somersetshire, was a man who, for his own amusement, never took up any book but the Baronetage…

“Vanity was the beginning and the end of Sir Walter Elliot’s character; vanity of person and of situation.  He had been remarkably handsome in his youth; and, at fifty-four, was still a very fine man.  Few women could think more of their personal appearance than he did, nor could the valet of any new made lord be more delighted with the place he held in society.  He considered the blessing of beauty as inferior only to the blessing of a baronetcy; and the Sir Walter Elliot, who united these gifts, was the constant object of his warmest respect and devotion.”

One of the best fathers in a Jane Austen novel is also the one with the smallest role.  Mr. Morland in Northanger Abbey (1817) is a clergyman with a comfortable living and lacks neither intelligence, nor sense.  As a result, he is not very exciting – especially for a Gothic novel loving heroine like Catherine Morland.  Austen writes:

“[Mr. Morland] was a clergyman, without being neglected, or poor, and a very respectable man, though his name was Richard—and he had never been handsome.  He had a considerable independence besides two good livings—and he was not in the least addicted to locking up his daughters.”

Victoria's Family by Franz Xaver Winterhalter, 1846.

Victoria’s Family by Franz Xaver Winterhalter, 1846.

Pressing on to the mid-19th century and Victorian era, we have two similar, but also very different fathers from the novels of Charles Dickens.  In Little Dorrit (1855), we meet heroine Amy Dorrit’s father.  Mr. Dorrit has the signal honor of being the longest imprisoned debtor in the Marshalsea Prison.  Upon entering the Marshalsea many years before, Dickens writes:

“He was, at that time, a very amiable and very helpless middle-aged gentleman, who was going out again directly.  Necessarily, he was going out again directly, because the Marshalsea lock never turned upon a debtor who was not.  He brought in a portmanteau with him, which he doubted its being worthwhile to unpack; he was so perfectly clear—like all the rest of them, the turnkey on the lock said—that he was going out again directly.”

Mr. Dorrit did not “go out again directly.”  Instead, he has been a resident of the Marshalsea for decades.  His eldest children, Edward and Fanny, have both grown up in the prison and his youngest daughter, Amy, was born there.  Dubbed “the Father of the Marshalsea,” Mr. Dorrit has become so vain and self-important that he sees his status in the prison as a strange sort of triumph.  So deluded is he by his own consequence that, though he is educated himself, he refuses to stoop so low as to teach his children.  Amy Dorrit observes:

“There was no instruction for any of them at home; but she knew well—no one better—that a man so broken as to be the Father of the Marshalsea, could be no father to his own children.”

Portrait of the Marquis and Marchioness of Miramon and their Children by James Tissot, 1865.

Portrait of the Marquis and Marchioness of Miramon and their Children by James Tissot, 1865.

Another imprisoned father, is Doctor Alexandre Manette in Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities (1859).  The father of heroine Lucie Manette, he has been a prisoner of the Bastille for eighteen years.  Upon release, he still suffers the mental torments of his time spent in captivity and, as Dickens’ explains:

“Only his daughter had the power of charming this black brooding from his mind.  She was the golden thread that united him to a Past beyond his misery, and to a Present beyond his misery: and the sound of her voice, the light of her face, the touch of her hand, had a strong beneficial influence with him almost always.  Not absolutely always, for she could recall some occasions on which her power had failed; but they were few and slight, and she believed them over.”

Doctor Manette refers to Lucie as his “other and far dearer self” and when, on the night of her marriage to Charles Darnay, she hesitates for fear of being separated from her father, and thereby causing him unhappiness, he asks her:

“…how could my happiness be perfect, while yours was incomplete?”

The Golden Butterfly - The Harvey Family by John Henry Frederick Bacon, (1868-1914).

The Golden Butterfly – The Harvey Family by John Henry Frederick Bacon, (1868-1914).

A study of literary fathers would not be complete (at least on this website!) without a brief discussion of two of the many fathers portrayed in the novels of Georgette Heyer.  Set in the years following the 1745 Jacobite rebellion, Heyer’s The Masqueraders (1928) features the characters of Robin, his sister Prudence, and their mysterious father, known simply as “The Old Gentleman.”  The Old Gentleman is referenced many times in the beginning of the novel, but does not make his appearance until a third of the way into the story.  When he arrives, he announces himself as the lost heir, Tremaine of Barham.  Well-versed with his chicanery, his children remain unconvinced.

“And what do you make of that?” said Prudence calmly in her brother’s ear. 

Robin shook his head.  “It’s the most consummate piece of impertinent daring – gad, it beats our masquerade!”

“But how can he carry it off?  And for how long?” 

“And why?” Robin demanded.  “It’s senseless!  Why?” 

“Oh, the old love of a fine dramatic gesture.  Don’t we know it?  It’s to rank with the time he played the French Ambassador in Madrid.  And he came off safe from that.”

Rutger Jan Schimmelpenninck with his Wife and Children by Pierre Paul Prud'hon, 1801-02.

Rutger Jan Schimmelpenninck with his Wife and Children
by Pierre Paul Prud’hon, 1801-02.

For all their humor, to be burdened with such a father is clearly a trying ordeal, especially for a young lady.  As Prudence rather poignantly confesses to Sir Anthony Fanshawe:

“You can have no pride in my birth, sir.  I do not know what my father is; we have never known, for he loves to be a mystery.”

In Heyer’s novel Cotillion (1953), she introduces us to a different sort of father altogether.  Lord Legerwood is father of hero Freddy Standen.  Possessed of a sharp intelligence and a dry wit, he initially intimidates heroine Kitty Charing.  Heyer writes that:

“She stood considerably in awe of him, for his cool, well-bred manners were quite unlike her guardian’s, and made him seem immeasurably superior.  He had an air of decided fashion, too, and an occasionally satirical tongue.”

Despite the amusement he gets from observing the antics of his hapless offspring, Lord Legerwood is the first to offer Freddy a loan when he perceives him to be in “dun territory” and later, when Freddy requires his help in the matter of the Chevalier d’Evron, he agrees to investigate the man.  Overcome with affection for his satirical parent, Freddy exclaims:

“Always say you’re the downiest man I know, sir!  Up to every rig and row in town!”

Robert Goldsborough and Family by Charles Willson Peale, 1787.

Robert Goldsborough and Family by Charles Willson Peale, 1787.

Fathers in novels are, by their nature, supporting characters.  As such, they do not usually feature heavily in our favorite stories.  But when they do, they run the gamut from Mr. Bennets to Mr. Dorrits to those larger than life characters like the lost heir of Barham.  Who are your favorite father characters in English literature?  Let me know in the comments section below!

Mimi Matthews is the author of The Pug Who Bit Napoleon: Animal Tales of the 18th and 19th Centuries (to be released by Pen and Sword Books in November 2017).  She researches and writes on all aspects of nineteenth century history—from animals, art, and etiquette to fashion, beauty, feminism, and law. 

Works Referenced or Cited in this Article

Austen, Jane.  Emma.  Ed. George Justice.  Norton Critical Editions. 4th ed. New York: Norton, 2011.

Austen, Jane.  Northanger Abbey.  Ed. Susan Fraiman.  Norton Critical Editions. 1st ed. New York: Norton, 2004.

Austen, Jane.  Persuasion.  Ed. Patricia Meyer Spacks.  Norton Critical Editions. 2nd ed. New York: Norton, 2012.

Austen, Jane.  Pride and Prejudice.  Ed. Donald Gray.  Norton Critical Editions.  3rd ed.  New York: Norton, 2002.

Dickens, Charles.  Little Dorrit.  New York: Penguin Classics, 2004.

Dickens, Charles.  A Tale of Two Cities.  New York: Bantam Classics, 1989.

Heyer, Georgette.  Cotillion.  Chicago: Sourcebooks, 2007.

Heyer, Georgette.  The Masqueraders.  Chicago: Sourcebooks, 2009.


© 2015-2017 Mimi Matthews

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26 thoughts on “Literary Fathers: As Depicted in the Works of Austen, Dickens, and Heyer

  1. Jenny Haddon says:

    I always liked the sound of Arabella’s father, the Vicar- a man of wide reading and sound principles from whom it was best to hide life’s smaller problems. Heyer’s own father was clearly a major friend and losing him at 22 probably the worst thing that ever happened to her. But that didn’t blind her to the potential for paternal oppression – Phoebe’s thick blunderer in Sylvester, for instance, or Venetia’s rigid, reclusive bully. And, of course, Leonie drew an out and out villain.
    My favourite father has to be Atticus Finch, all the more so because he doesn’t win the day despite being honest and right. Lovely man. Marvellous relationship of equals with his children.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mimi Matthews says:

      Thanks so much for commenting, Jenny! Very interesting points about Heyer’s own father. I agree about Arabella’s father. I’ve often wished he had a bigger role. And Atticus Finch! One of the best dad’s in literary history. A great lawyer, too.

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  2. Sarah Waldock says:

    I’ve never considered either Mr Bennett or Mr Woodhouse especially benign, I have to say, just more subtly portrayed by Austen than some others. Mr Bennett must have known of the entail, and yet he has made no provision to save against his eventual death, showing a degree of selfishness that is quite staggering. He is a man who prefers to stand apart and poke fun at all around him rather than engage fully in his family [with the possible exception of Lizzie]. I have often wondered whether his choice of Mrs Bennett as a wife came at the end of a shotgun if she was, in her youth, rather more like Lydia … As for Mr Woodhouse, he exerts a tyranny of weakness on his entire household with an egocentric view that is almost staggering. Of course the whole of ‘Emma’ shows the journey of the eponymous heroine from being the self-centred but basically well-meaning daughter of Mr Woodhouse into the wiser, and more outward-looking wife of Mr Knightley, as Emma learns that her father’s ideas, and her own beliefs are not always the way of the world.
    Thank you for this excellent post, Mimi, as always very enjoyable. And I love Freddy Standen’s father who is more of a downy one than poor Freddy can possibly imagine.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Mimi Matthews says:

      Thanks for commenting, Sarah! I agree with your take on Mr. Bennet and Mr. Woodhouse. I suppose what I meant by benign was not that they are harmless, but that their negative attributes were a bit less overt than someone like Sir Walter or Mr. Dorrit. I feel that in literature, the father is either absent or ineffectual solely for the benefit of the hero/heroine’s character development. If either Mr. Bennet or Mr. Woodhouse were better/more reliable parents, Elizabeth and Emma would not have had to grow as much as they did as individuals. Anyway, just another of my many literary thoughts!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Elizabeth Bailey says:

    Really interesting post. I have to agree about Legerwood. He is probably the most interesting of all Heyer fathers, simply because he is so apparently superior to his son, the hero. But Freddy’s hidden depths, “hitherto unsuspected” astonish even his father, who ends up justifiably proud of him. And of course Lord Legerwood adds so much to the humour and is a perfect foil for Freddy and the Elgin marbles.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mimi Matthews says:

      Glad you enjoyed it, Elizabeth! Thanks for your comment. I’m glad to hear you feel the same about Lord Legerwood! I love the scene with Freddy, his father, and the Elgin marbles. Legerwood is just so effective in every scene he is in. I could easily imagine him as the hero figure/sardonic Corinthian-type in another novel.

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  4. monicadescalzi says:

    Thank you, Mimi, for a truly lovely post. I tend, however, to agree with Sarah’s views on Mr Bennet and Mr Woodhouse. I’d just add that, although we all enjoy Mr Bennet’s wit, the more I read P & P the more I perceive his shortcomings. Disappointment in marriage is no excuse for neglecting his daughters and there seems to be a bitter undercurrent to some of his remarks.

    He does nothing to help them get married, knowing full well that they’d be thrown out of Longbourn House when he dies. He does visit Mr Bingley, at Mrs Bennet’s insistence, but “he had rather hoped that all his wife’s views on the stranger [Mr Bingley] would be disappointed.” As she goes on about the Meryton Assembly, he impatiently cries: “If he had had any compassion for me, he would not have danced half so much! For God’s sake, say no more of his partners. Oh! that he had sprained his ankle in the first dance!” What a thing to say! do I detect a sadistic overtone here?

    There’s more: “So, Lizzy,” said he one day, “your sister is crossed in love I find. I congratulate her. Next to being married, a girl likes to be crossed in love a little now and then. It is something to think of, and gives her a sort of distinction among her companions. When is your turn to come? You will hardly bear to be long outdone by Jane. Now is your time. Here are officers enough at Meryton to disappoint all the young ladies in the country. Let Wickham be your man. He is a pleasant fellow, and would jilt you creditably.” Oh dear, that must have hurt!:(

    Quite an unpleasant dialogue takes place between Mr and Mrs Bennet in chapter 23, about the Collins’s taking over the Longbourn estate on his death. Later on Elizabeth regrets “that continual breach of conjugal obligation and decorum which, in exposing his wife to the contempt of her own children, was so highly reprehensible.”

    He shows, time and again, that he is “a most negligent and dilatory correspondent” – not a great fault in itself, but we get the picture: a rather indolent, unhappily married man, who finds pleasure only in books and the company of one of his daughters. That being said, his sense of humour is his saving grace, and P&P wouldn’t be the wonderful novel it is without him. Not a very good father, I’m afraid, but such a great character!:)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mimi Matthews says:

      Glad you enjoyed it, Monica! Thanks, as always, for such a thoughtful comment. I think the underpinnings of Mr. Bennet’s character – and Mr. Woodhouse’s for that matter – would take up an entire article on their own! But I agree with you about the negative effects of Mr. Bennet’s behavior. His sin toward his daughters is more of a passive one than that of some other literary fathers. He could act if he wanted, but instead chooses not to exert himself – observing the events around him as if he is an amused bystander instead of the head of the family. It is interesting that the overall view of him is as a good father. Yet another example of the influence of movie adaptations, I suspect!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sarah Waldock says:

        Both Mr Bennett and Mr Woodhouse are comic relief in a way; Mr Bennett’s sense of humour invites you to laugh with him, sometimes guiltily when his humour is less kind; Mr Woodhouse almost asks to be laughed at. And I enjoy him from the outside, knowing that it can be hard to live with an essentially kindly and yet tunnel-visioned and very, very parochial parent who assumes that if they like something, everyone must like it…. and if they don’t find something interesting, nobody else will either so it’s fine to talk through that item on the news.

        Liked by 2 people

  5. Jenny Haddon says:

    These comments have all been so interesting.
    I enjoy Mr Bennett’s humour but I think he is wilfully obtuse about the business of marriage – perhaps because he clearly set out on the wrong path himself and is now driven almost crazy by his wife’s preoccupations and requirements, perhaps out of innate distaste. He has to face the issues with Lydia and Wickham but is still trying to bury them with regard to Elizabeth and Darcy, until Elizabeth faces him down with her feelings.
    I remember an interesting exam question: ‘Do you think Mrs Bennett was a bad mother?’ At the time I discovered that I felt quite strongly that, though vulgar and not very bright, she responsible, energetic and caring. Clearly she was doing her best to ensure that the girls were provided for in the only way that was feasible. And Mr Bennett was fighting her every step of the way, and not just for the spiteful pleasure of overturning her schemes. In that, at least, he was NOT logical at all, and in so extreme a fashion that one might almost call him more unbalanced – even neurotic indeed – than his wife.
    Mr Woodhouse, too, does not want to acknowledge that his daughter is a grown up sexual being. Yet awful Sir Walter has no problem in surrendering his daughters to adulthood.
    Can Jane Austen be saying ‘Beware the fond father: he will infantalise you?’

    Liked by 2 people

    • Mimi Matthews says:

      Very interesting points, Jenny! Looking at it that way, there is a good argument for Mrs. Bennet being the far better parent – though she is very silly. It seems that Austen has rendered the fathers either burdensome or totally ineffective as a means of making the heroine stronger and more independent. Many modern Regency historicals do this by making the heroine an orphan, I’ve noticed. Without parents to rely on or take care of her, she is forced to make her own decisions and grow as a person.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sarah Waldock says:

        Insightful and thought-provoking, Jenny. [I wish we’d done Pride and Prejudice at school, apart from our Shakespeare we had serious boredom. Which wasn’t for a lack of more interesting set books that year, just the choice of our rather pretentious teacher…

        Liked by 1 person

      • monicadescalzi says:

        I tend to agree with Jenny. If Mr Bennet’s attitude towards his daughters’ marriages is coloured by his own personal regrets, he’s carrying things too far. In S&S Mr Palmer finds himself in a similar situation: “His temper might perhaps be a little soured by finding, like many others of his sex, that through some unaccountable bias in favour of beauty, he was the husband of a very silly woman,–but … this kind of blunder was too common for any sensible man to be lastingly hurt by it.” Mr Bennet may be dissatisfied with his wife, but he gets two thousand a year from his estate; whereas, on his death, Mr Collins will move in and his wife and daughters will be thrown out almost without a penny. Five thousand pounds have been settled on them by marriage settlement, to be divided between the children by their parents’ will. Lydia is given her “equal share” on her marriage, so it seems the girls will eventually have a thousand pounds each, i.e. yearly income of £50 – next to nothing for a gentleman’s daughter. What will they live on? Could they become governesses? They wouldn’t be qualified, since, as we learn in chapter 29, their education has been rather deficient – neither parent seems to have been very interested in that. Marriage would be their only chance, but, with little money and limited accomplishments, things might not be easy. In this context, Mrs Bennet is determined to take action, and, in that respect at least, she seems to be a better parent than her husband.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Mimi Matthews says:

        Very good points, Monica! The more we analyze Mr. Bennet and his lack of care for the future of his offspring, the more reprehensible he seems. And I love your reference to Mr. Palmer. I always think of Hugh Laurie in the movie version of Sense and Sensibility. He made his disdain for his wife almost comical. But in reality, it was not so unlike Mr. Bennet’s attitude toward Mrs. Bennet. I wonder who in her life Austen based this particular type of father character on? Or if it was entirely from her imagination?

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Angelyn says:

    I must confess to my own attraction for Lord Legerwood. He is a downy one. The father that intrigues me the most in Austen’s novels is General Tilney of Northanger Abbey. A handsome, vigorous man of “commanding aspect,” he has been called by one scholar, a “Gothic monster.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mimi Matthews says:

      Thanks for commenting, Angelyn. I totally agree about Lord Legerwood. He is definitely hero material all on his own. And General Tilney was a Gothic monster! Imagine the cold-bloodedness and cruelty of sending Catherine, a gently bred young lady, home on the common stage. A gentleman would never have done such a thing.

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  7. Kathryn Wilson says:

    Austen’s devastating critique of the failings of the two fathers in Mansfield Park (both of whom leave Fanny Price to survive on her own resources without the benefit of fatherly protection or understanding) is spot-on: Of Sir Thomas and his dismal lack of knowledge of the true character and deficient education of his two daughters, “….it is not very wonderful that with all their promising talents and early information, they should be entirely deficient in the less common acquirements of self-knowledge, generosity, and humility. In everything but disposition, they were admirably taught. Sir Thomas did not know what was wanting, because, though a truly anxious father, he was not outwardly affectionate, and the reserve of his manner repressed all the flow of their spirits before him.” And of Fanny’s birth father Lt. Price: “…he was more negligent of his family, his habits were worse, and his manners courser than she had been prepared for. He did not want abilities; but he had no curiosity, and no information beyond his profession;…he swore and he drank, he was dirty and gross. She had never been able to recall anything approaching tenderness in his former treatment of herself. There had remained only a general impression of roughness and loudness; and now he scarcely ever noticed her, but to make her the object of a coarse joke.”
    Sir Thomas and Lt Price are prime examples of fathers whose inadequacies force the heroine to develop her own resources, strengthen her own resolve, and rely upon her own judgment.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mimi Matthews says:

      Thank you so much for such a thoughtful comment, Kathryn. I love when commenters include quotes! You’re right, Mansfield Park is a perfect example of my point about inadequate fathers whose failings prompt their daughters to grow as independent characters. Sadly, Mansfield Park is my least favorite Austen and, personally, I have never been able to connect as well with Fanny Price as with Elizabeth Bennet, Anne Elliot, or even Catherine Morland. There are just so many unlikable characters in Mansfield Park – except for Pug, of course!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Sarah M. Fredericks says:

    Dear Mimi,
    Thank you for yet another interesting article. Though Mr. Bennet’s says, “I must throw in a good word for my little Lizzy,” I have to say the same about Caleb Garth from George Eliot’s MIDDLEMARCH and Atticus Finch in Harper Lee’s TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. For me, these two men represent the best examples of fathers in literature. They have a strong moral compass, are hard workers, compassionate, and loving to their family members – and even to those outside their families.
    For example, Caleb, to his later detriment, puts his signature to Fred Vincy’s loan. Later in the novel, although Caleb badly needs extra income, he refuses to manage Mr. Bulstrode’s land because of the spurious means Mr. Bulstrode acquired his wealth. And Atticus? He loses a number of friends in the small town of Macomb, Alabama, when he defends Tom Robinson, an innocent, African American man accused of raping a white woman. However, he gains the respect of his children in the process.
    Sarah
    copleyclassics.com

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mimi Matthews says:

      So glad you liked the article, Sarah! Thanks for the great comment. I agree about Atticus Finch whole-heartedly and thank you for reminding me of Caleb Garth from Middlemarch. Both are generous, kind, and honest ‘salt of the earth’ type characters and both have a very strong sense of honor and justice. Wonderful fathers indeed.

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