Aunts (lovely and vile) in literature

I hope you won’t mind a lighter post today. I’m flying back from my vacation in Eugene, Oregon, where I spent 10 marvelous days watching the US Olympic Track and Field Trials. If you missed the trials and want to know who made the team for London, check out my favorite running site: Flotrack. I’m sure there are some proud aunts (not to mention moms and dads, too) of our US athletes.

For today’s post, I wanted to mention some aunts in literature, some that you’d love to have as your own aunt and some that are vile, ornery or downright evil.

I owe the inspiration for this post to a fellow blogger Jodi Chromey, whose post about Beverly Cleary’s Ramona and Beezus (and their aunt Beatrice) got me thinking about other aunts in literature. Check out her post. It’s a lovely tribute to Cleary and the power of literature in a child’s life. And Chromey describes in moving detail why Aunt Beatrice means even more to her now that she’s all grown up and a woman without children of her own but a niece and nephew to adore.

Good aunts
Elizabeth Bennet’s Aunt Gardiner (Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen)
Scout Finch’s Aunt Alexandra (To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee)
Dorothy’s Aunt Em (The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum)
Beezus’ and Ramona’s Aunt Beatrice (Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary)
Meg Murry’s “Aunt Beast” (A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engel)
Cholly Breedlove’s Aunt Jimmy (The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison)

Aunts you pity
Tom Sawyer’s Aunt Polly (Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain)
Every single aunt in Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights (though it’s hard to keep straight whose aunt is whose)
Arlene Fleet’s Aunt Florence (gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson)

Horrid aunts
Darcy’s aunt Lady Catherine de Bourgh (Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen)
Jane Eyre’s aunt Mrs. Reed (Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë)
Jo’s Aunt March (Little Women by Louisa May Alcott)
Harry Potter’s aunts Petunia and Marge (Harry Potter series by JK Rowling)

Uncategorizable aunts (selfish, silly, caricature)
Melanie’s Aunt Pittypat (Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell)
Isabel Archer’s Aunt Lydia Touchett (Portrait of a Lady by Henry James)
Will Tweedy’s Aunt Loma (Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Anne Burns)

It has been a long time since I read some of these books. I hope you’ll let me know if you think any of them need to move to a different category.

Do you have a favorite aunt in literature? Or one you love to hate? Let’s hear about her.

2 thoughts on “Aunts (lovely and vile) in literature

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