The schedule for the Character Review posts will be changing to Friday (or Saturday at the latest from now on).
*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the book and the television show Sanditon. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the show. There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.
In a world in which class status, patriarchy, and money rule, an unmarried woman who lacks a steady income has a limited number of options. The first is to marry well and hope that her husband treats her right. The second is to rely on family for financial support. The third is to find employment that will allow her to enter genteel poverty. In Sanditon, Clara Brereton (Lily Sacofsky) is in this state.
One of three potential heirs to her wealthy aunt, Lady Denham (Anne Reid), Clara is in a state of survival. Forced to become two-faced, she is one way with her aunt and another way with her cousins. Sir Edward Denham (Jack Fox) and his step-sister, Esther (Charlotte Spencer) are also vying to inherit their aunt’s fortune upon her death. Knowing that her intellect may be the only thing that saves her, Clara knows how to play the game.
Each tries to one-up the other when it comes to their aunt. Like Clara, Edward and Esther play sweet to Lady Denham’s face, but snipe at her when they are alone. Though she tries to reason with Esther that the money can be split three ways, Esther will not hear of it. A survivor of sexual abuse, Clara decides to change tactics and fight for the whole kit and caboodle.
The game reaches its apex when Lady Denham is sick. Clara and Edward tear her library apart, looking for her will. They end up sleeping together. When this comes to light, both are disinherited and Esther is named as their aunt’s heir.
Cut to a while later. Clara lands on Lady Denham’s door, pregnant with Edward’s child. While Esther has wised up to her brother’s schemes, Clara has not. After their son is born, she believes what Edward tells her. After she finally sees the light, he is once more kicked out and she walks away, giving Esther her son to raise.
To sum it up: Clara is doing what she must do. In her world, she is disenfranchised and because she is, must play the hand that she is dealt. But that does not mean she is completely heartless. The birth of Clara’s son reveals her humanity and her ability to change.
Which is why she is a memorable character.