MCM: George Wickham

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Oh, Mr. Wickham, you are a card-carrying member of “Why are the baddies always hot?” club! Jane Austen’s deceptively charming fellow from Pride and Prejudice is introduced as Mr. Darcy’s victim and foil, and, of course, we learn that George Wickham is a scoundrel who has left a trail of sordid love affairs and bad debts in his wake.

Austen shows Wickham in the best possible light when he first meets the Bennet sisters in chapter 15:

Mr. Denny addressed them directly, and entreated permission to introduce his friend, Mr. Wickham, who had returned with him the day before from town, and he was happy to say had accepted a commission in their corps. This was exactly as it should be; for the young man wanted only regimentals to make him completely charming. His appearance was greatly in his favour; he had all the best part of beauty, a fine countenance, a good figure, and very pleasing address.

And again, in chapter 16:

The officers of the — — shire were in general a very creditable, gentlemanlike set, and the best of them were of the present party; but Mr. Wickham was as far beyond them all in person, countenance, air, and walk, as they were superior to the broad-faced, stuffy uncle Philips, breathing port wine, who followed them into the room.

Mr. Wickham was the happy man towards whom almost every female eye was turned, and Elizabeth was the happy woman by whom he finally seated himself; and the agreeable manner in which he immediately fell into conversation, though it was only on its being a wet night, and on the probability of a rainy season, made her feel that the commonest, dullest, most threadbare topic might be rendered interesting by the skill of the speaker.

He is a charming fellow, isn’t he? Too bad he’s such a terrible rake! But in film and TV adaptions of the novel, it’s important to cast a handsome gent as Mr. Wickham or we won’t fall for him a little like Lizzie does, at first. So let’s enjoy a little bad-boy man candy.

 

Edward Ashley in Pride and Prejudice (1940)

Edward Ashley, Pride & Prejudice (1940)

 

Peter Settelen in Pride and Prejudice (1980)

Peter Settelen, Pride & Prejudice (1980)

 

Adrian Lukis in Pride and Prejudice (1995)

Pride and Prejudice (1995)

 

Rupert Friend in Pride & Prejudice (2005)

 

Tom Riley in Lost in Austen (2008)

Lost in Austen (2008)

 

Matthew Goode in Death Comes to Pemberley (2013)

 

Jack Huston in Pride & Prejudice & Zombies (2016)

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2015)

 

 

Who is your favorite Mr. Wickham on screen?

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About the author

Trystan L. Bass

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A self-described ElderGoth, Trystan has been haunting the internet since the early 1990s. Always passionate about costume, from everyday office wear to outrageous twisted historical creations, she has maintained some of the earliest online costuming-focused resources on the web. Her costuming adventures are chronicled on her website, TrystanCraft. She also ran a popular fashion blog, This Is CorpGoth, dedicated to her “office drag.”

20 Responses

  1. Jana Hill

    The “Lost in Austen” Wickham was inexplicably out of character in a way that made 0 sense. Boo. Very attractive, though.

    Reply
  2. Melanie

    If Matthew Goode had played Wickham in an actual adaptation of P&P, I would have rooted for him regardless of his being a rake!

    Reply
    • Kaite Fink

      A wonderfully delicious rake! I really enjoyed his version of our Mr. Wickham!

      Reply
  3. SarahV

    I rather thought that Jack Huston wins, here.

    Adrian Lukis was more than a little skeevy to be “hot.” I know, I know, that’s character, hunting after Regency teeny-boppers, but it’s so jarring to see how much more mature and, well, older, he looked compare to his quarry, Georgiana and Lydia. It made me not find him remotely attractive.

    Matthew Goode is to refined to really be an effective scoundrel, imho. He’s beautiful, but not at all rakish.

    Reply
  4. Susan Pola Staples

    Adrian Lucas oops gotta go battery is almost nil back when it’s charged.

    Reply
  5. Callie

    I mourn the Wickham that almost was… Rupert Graves had the roll in 1995, but had to pull out at the last minute.
    Let’s just say I would’ve had a hard time rooting against him.

    Reply
    • Sarah Faltesek

      Jack Huston fit the bill for me. Matthew Goode is gorgeous, of course, but Huston had that aura of a man you want to believe, yet somehow don’t entirely trust, and you aren’t even sure if you care because he’s so… you know.

      Reply
  6. Alyxx Iannetta

    Hmmmm Rupert Friend is the prettiest but he was never skeevy enough to be a real Wickham to me… Matthew Goode is the prefect blend of gorgeous and rakishness to be the perfect Wickham for me – I’d head to Gretna Green with him!

    Reply
  7. ljones1966

    Adrian Lukis may not have been the most handsome looking George Wickham, but I’ve always believed he had the character’s charm down pat.

    Tom Riley, Matthew Goode and Edward Ashley tie for second place on my list.

    Reply
  8. cici

    I know it was modern and doesn’t entirely count, but the omission Wes Aderhold and his abs in the Lizzie Bennett Diaries is tragic nonetheless.

    Reply
  9. Janette

    Tom Riley nailed it. Matthew Goode was excellent too bringing a little depth to the character but he was not Jane Austen’s Wickham. Neither it turned out was Tom Riley. I thought the casting of Adrien Lukas as Wickham was the only misstep in the 95 P&P. He had a little too much of the used car salesman about him. the viewer should be seduced by Wickham initially just as Elizabeth is however we are never in doubt that he is a villain and so wonder why she falls for him.

    Reply
  10. Jessica

    He’s not on here because he wasn’t “period” as it was a modern telling but George Wickham from “The Lizzie Bennett Diaries” nailed it…..in my humble opinion! :)

    Reply
  11. Kate

    Totally agree with others here that Wes Aderhold made an incredible (non-Regency) Wickham in LBD, he nailed that manipulative charm that makes Wickham such an effective character. Tom Riley’s Wickham was also fun because you could love him without feeling guilty, even if it wasn’t what Jane Austen intended. It would have been great to see Matthew Goode as Wickham in a real adaptation of P&P, he has that whole rake-vibe down.

    Reply
  12. Lily Lotus Rose

    Matthew Goode (he had all the elements just right)
    Rupert Friend (ditto, but still, Matthew wins out in my opinion)
    Jack Huston (very close 3rd behind Rupert. It’s been a while since I’ve seen PP&Z, but in my memory, his Wickham had elements of mischief about him from the very beginning. As many people have pointed out, the true nature of Wickham’s character is meant to be a heartbreaking surprise, not a forgone conclusion.)

    Reply

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