Molly, as I mentioned in my link-up post, is one of my favorite heroines. Since it is still the Literary Heroine Blog Party over at Accordion to Kellie, I thought it would be nice to do a post on Molly. There will be a few spoilers throughout, so be warned.
I first read Wives and Daughters about a year ago when my mom and I went on a sort of Elizabeth Gaskell rampage, which included North and South (books and movie), Cranford (book and movie), Wives and Daughters (book and movie), Mr. Harrison's Confessions, and My Lady Ludlow. The latter book was not available from our library system, but I found it in a PDF here. I must say that North and South was my favorite, but the book from which little Molly comes is a close second. The BBC movies are all amazing, too.
Wives and Daughters is just a delightfully written book. By just flipping through the first chapter, I knew that I was going to enjoy it very well indeed. I have read it again since then and enjoyed it every bit as much as my first read-through. It is, after all, an 'Everyday Story'. Now, back to Molly. At the beginning of the story, she is just a bit spoiled. She is an only child whose mother died when she was young, and is used to getting most of what she wants. Surprisingly, this doesn't turn her into an ill-tempered brat; her kind spirit and unselfishness sustains her and builds her character as time goes on. It is rather hard for her to accept the fact that her father will remarry after such a long time, though. She is prone to occasional small outbursts of temper, which she regrets deeply shortly after. (This is one of the traits that I share with Molly). She is a patient girl, putting up with Hyacinth's silly airs and outlandishness, but still finds her situation hard to accept.
When Cynthia, Molly's new stepsister, arrives from school in Paris, there is am immediate friendship between them, although they are not much alike. Cynthia is strong willed and a bit self-centered, sharply contrasting Molly's gentle and loving nature. Molly, in a way, tries to look after Cynthia, although it is actions in the past that cause the most trouble for the two girls.
Throughout the book, and the movie, Molly's unselfish nature plays a big part. She gives up Roger so that Cynthia can be happy, although she knows that Roger deserves better, although it breaks her heart. As I read on a blog once (if this is your quote let me know in a comment and I will credit you), in stories you often read of the boy giving up the girl so she can marry whom she loves, but very seldom do you hear of the girl giving up the boy. I said that it broke Molly's heart to see Cynthia engaged to Roger, but in real life, heroines do not pine away and die when that happens. They keep on going, as painful as that may be, and live life as they did before. When Roger goes to Africa for two years, it is plain to see that it is Molly, not her stepsister, who really cares about him. Molly pours over his letters, and is the only one concerned when he falls ill in the desert.
Her selflessness comes out also in the ordeal with Mr. Preston. She is completely completely willing to risk her reputation in order to help Cynthia, and because of her kindness, is able to save her from ruin. Molly does get rather huffy when she is around people she does not like, such as Mr. Preston, which is something I do as well. As I said in my Link-up post, I do not consider that a good trait.
Ultimately, Molly does save Cynthia - she gets the letters back from Mr. Preston and clears her stepsister's reputation - but not with out giving herself a bit of a bad name in the process. At one point, almost the whole town is filled with gossip about her, but that is soon pushed away by Lady Harriet. (Harriet is a bit of a snob, I must say, but she has a kind heart and good intentions, and helps Molly a great deal). In the meantime, Cynthia is still her silly, vain self. She as well as encourages attentions from a man other than Roger while they are still engaged, and the thought does not even cross her mind that she might be hurting someone. Here, Mr. Gibson steps in and gives Cynthia a good scolding, which she very much deserved.
Molly's love for Roger pays off in the end, when he realizes that she really is the caring one. Especially after his mother, and then Osbourne, dies, she spends a lot of time with their family and comforts them. She is also very kind to Osbourne's wife and child when they come from France, and helps Mr. Hamley to adjust to the situation. It bears mentioning as well that Molly did a wonderful job keeping Osbourne's secret a secret while he was alive. Roger does propose to Molly in the end, when he sees how blind he has been to her steadfastness and charm. In the movie, there is a delightful kiss-less proposal scene that I loved. My heart just about melted when I watched it.
Molly's character is one that I admire greatly, and although she has her flaws, I think that she is a good picture of a literary heroine. If you haven't read the book, I highly suggest doing so, and then watch the delightful BBC movie! (It is on YouTube for free).
I also have to mention that I love Molly's dresses from the movie. Hyacinth's and Cynthia's are a bit too outlandish for me (look at the sleeves and hair in the second picture), but most of Molly's are just my style. I really like late Regency fashion.