Jealousy Causes Friction and Frisson in Fiction

Literature can be riveting when authors have their characters experience primal emotions such as love, hate, fear, and…jealousy.

This post will be about memorable instances of envy in fiction — a topic I thought about last month while reading Master and Commander, Patrick O’Brian’s first Aubrey-Maturin novel. Jack Aubry is a ship captain, and his first lieutenant James Dillon not surprisingly wishes he had that position.

Edmond Dantes, a sailor promoted to captain at the start of Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo, is framed by men jealous of his promotion — and of his engagement to Mercedes Herrera. Dantes languishes in prison for many years before escaping and taking his epic revenge against the men who put him there.

The handsome, quietly charismatic title character in Herman Melville’s Billy Budd is liked by his sailor peers but hated by sinister Master-at-Arms John Claggart — and that hate is at least partly caused by jealousy.

Not sure how I ended up discussing three novels in a row with sea elements, but envy of course also appears in many other kinds of books.

Examples include some novels by Indiana authors, who are on my mind because I recently attended a great National Society of Newspaper Columnists conference in Indianapolis — where one of our “field trips” was to the very interesting Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library.

For instance, Terre Haute-born Theodore Dreiser’s An American Tragedy focuses on Clyde Griffiths and that character’s envy of wealthy people with the seemingly “perfect” life he doesn’t have. Indianapolis resident Booth Tarkington’s The Magnificent Ambersons depicts some jealousy when the unlikable George Amberson Minafer sabotages the relationship between his likable widowed mother and the father of the woman (Lucy Morgan) George loves. Envy also rears its head when the Amberson fortune wanes and the Morgan fortune grows.

Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights is full of all kinds of jealousy — including the envy Edgar Linton feels when his wife Catherine is thrilled to see Heathcliff when he returns after a long absence.

Romantic jealousy in other novels? Three of many examples include the insufferable Rev. Edward Casaubon of George Eliot’s Middlemarch being envious of the interactions between his young, admirable wife Dorothea Brooke and his young, idealistic cousin Will Ladislaw; Miles Coverdale of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Blithedale Romance being jealous of Hollingsworth’s relationship with Priscilla; and Lady Booby, the employer of the title character in Henry Fielding’s 18th-century comic novel Joseph Andrews, becoming jealous when she can’t seduce Joseph because he wants to stay chaste until marrying Fanny Goodwill.

In modern fiction, a rich criminal’s nasty son is envious of Jack Reacher’s relationship with (female) police officer Roscoe in Lee Child’s debut novel Killing Floor. Then the second Reacher installment, Die Trying, finds Jack feeling a bit jealous of the man with whom FBI agent Holly Johnson is involved.

In Joan Barfoot’s Duet for Three, the widowed Aggie and her divorced daughter June wish they had had better marriages — as well as a better relationship with each other. One poignant scene has June seeing how close Brenda (a fellow teacher) and her husband seem to be, and another scene shows Aggie being envious of her granddaughter Frances’ more fun and less isolated life.

There’s also envy of popularity, looks, success, and riches. For instance, the mischievously immature kid Davy is at times jealous of well-behaved “old soul” kid Paul Irving when he sees how much Anne Shirley admires Paul in L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Avonlea. Even the stoic, philosophical Santiago feels a bit envious when other fishermen catch more than he does for 84 long days in Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. But on the 85th day…

Then there’s academic jealousy, such as Howard Belsey’s envy of more prominent professor/author Monty Kipps in Zadie Smith’s On Beauty.

Envy can arise even over relatively trivial matters — as when Amy March, jealous that she can’t go to a play with her older sisters, burns the only copy of a manuscript Jo March worked on for countless hours in Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women.

In the realm of plays, I would have to say that Iago is a bit envious in Shakespeare’s Othello. 🙂

What are your favorite examples of jealousy in literature?

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I’m writing a literature-related book, but still selling Comic (and Column) Confessional — my often-funny memoir that recalls 25 years of covering and meeting cartoonists such as Charles Schulz (“Peanuts”) and Bill Watterson (“Calvin and Hobbes”), columnists such as Ann Landers and “Dear Abby,” and other notables such as Hillary Clinton, Coretta Scott King, Walter Cronkite, and various authors. The book also talks about the malpractice death of my first daughter, my remarriage, and life in Montclair, N.J. — where I write the award-winning weekly “Montclairvoyant” humor column for The Montclair Times. You can email me at to buy a discounted, inscribed copy of the book, which contains a preface by “Hints” columnist Heloise and back-cover blurbs by people such as “The Far Side” cartoonist Gary Larson.

105 thoughts on “Jealousy Causes Friction and Frisson in Fiction

  1. Good grief, Dave, I thought I’d be one of the first to comment, but it seems everyone else got here first, You should be flattered that we”ve missed you so much that we’re standing in line to comment. I must say that I’ve been consumed by the early controversy over the new Harper Lee novel and have ranted about this to two of my best friends, They think I’m nuts but this has been very difficult for me to accept. I must admit to making fun of people who get upset over the death of a beloved TV character yet I must admit to feeling somehow betrayed over this new Atticus,

    But to get back to the point of your column, I think that the heroine of Northanger Abbey is very grounded in her expectations of what she will inherit as well as what she will bring to a marriage, Sorry if I don’t express that properly but I think that Catherine, for all her faults is a product of her times. as are most of Austin’s heroines.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for the kind words, Kat Lib! Glad to be back, and I missed conversing with you and everyone else. Actually, this jealousy post published last Sunday — unfortunately, it seems like no notification went to you. Sorry about that. I’ll soon be posting a new column tonight.

      As you might have seen in a reply to another comment, I’m currently/finally reading “Northanger Abbey” — the one Jane Austen novel I hadn’t gotten to before. It’s VERY good, and Catherine is indeed a very grounded character, albeit a bit naive and not worldly in the part I’ve read so far.

      From what I’ve read of “Go Set a Watchman,” the older Atticus is definitely troubling. Perhaps more realistic for a white man of his time and place, but the heroic moral giant of “To Kill a Mockingbird” is an icon that we hate to see messed with. Do you plan to read “Go Set a Watchman,” or not? I’m still deciding.


      • I think I’ll give this one a pass. I would rather give a novel that I cared about the heroine due to her good abilities (such as Catherine Morland) than one who shows no such redeeming qualities,

        Liked by 1 person

    • Dave. I think that I will pass on the latest version of Scout and her family, I wish that Lee’s family hadn’t allowed this to happen, although I think I can understand all the reasons why they did so (think money!). I’d prefer to think about Atticus as he was portrayed by Gregory Peck!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, Kat Lib, no matter what anyone says, money was a huge part of the decision to publish “Go Set a Watchman.” I don’t think Harper Lee was the greedy one, but I imagine the publishing company and others had dollar signs dancing in front of their eyes. As I told commenter Pat in my new column, if I read “Go Set a Watchman” I will do so by taking it out of the library rather than buying it.

        I realize Atticus Finch was probably too good to be true (few people are that wonderful in real life), but it’s nice to have heroes and heroines — and it’s depressing to see a fictional icon like Atticus punctured.

        Your mention of Catherine Morland made me think of how sad it would be if other fictional icons suddenly turned out to be not as admirable as we were accustomed to. Anne Elliot, Jane Eyre, Tom Joad, Anne Shirley, Harry Potter, etc. One shudders to think of it. 🙂


  2. What a great topic Dave..Jealousy is such a disease it becomes self destructive. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy was the first book came to my mind.
    As a young girl, Baby Kochamma fell in love with Father Mulligan, a young Irish priest . But due to Due to her unrequited love Baby Kochamma delights in the misfortune of others and set out to destroy the love of others who came in contact with her particularly the people she knew.

    Then the very polular novel ” Pride and Predudice”, Caroline Bingley the sister of Charles was fascinated by Darcy and Elizabeth who was everything that Caroline lacked. Carolines constant jealousy and pettiness was actually instrumental for Darcy to look within and realized how he admired Elizabeth and in the end eventually brought them together.

    Liked by 1 person

    • bebe, “The God of Small Things” is a terrific example of a novel with a very envious character. (Thanks again for recommending I read that riveting book a year or two ago!) The Baby character was so jealous and destructive; it was heartbreaking to see the damage she caused.

      “Pride and Prejudice” is also very relevant to this discussion; I appreciate your excellent insight into the importance of envy to that book.

      Speaking of Jane Austen, I’m currently reading “Northanger Abbey” (the only Austen novel I hadn’t gotten to before). Quite good. The Catherine Morland character could have acted very jealous when she first got to Bath and didn’t know anybody, but she is so mild-mannered and tolerant that envy is not as strong an emotion in her as it is in many other people.

      Before “Northanger Abbey,” I read Lee Child’s “Nothing to Lose.” The first Jack Reacher novel I didn’t find GREAT, but it was still very good.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. “The Times’s Michiko Kakutani revealed the literary surprise of the year in her review of Harper Lee’s second novel, “Go Set a Watchman,” on Friday: Atticus Finch, a protagonist of both the book and its iconic companion, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” has gone from a champion of social justice to an outright racist.

    In her review, Ms. Kakutani writes,

    Shockingly, in Ms. Lee’s long-awaited novel, “Go Set a Watchman” (due out Tuesday), Atticus is a racist who once attended a Klan meeting, who says things like “the Negroes down here are still in their childhood as a people.” Or asks his daughter: “Do you want Negroes by the carload in our schools and churches and theaters? Do you want them in our world?””

    Liked by 1 person

    • bebe, I saw that New York Times review yesterday. Reading that Atticus was a racist in the “new” novel is indeed shocking and depressing. It shows that “Go Set a Watchman” was either sort of a draft or basically became obsolete when Harper Lee changed and improved things to write “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

      I’m not sure anymore how much I want to read “Go Set a Watchman.” Maybe I’ll take it out of the library at some point, but I don’t want to give money to a publisher that probably mostly had mercenary motives to release the book. And it’s still not certain that Harper Lee really wanted the novel published.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I check our library last Monday…until then they have 378 in the waiting list. Totally makes sense why Harper Lee never wanted to publish the novel. One thing for sure I am not going to read it. it is all about greed of her lawyer then of course the Publisher. 😦

        Liked by 1 person

        • That waiting list is off the charts, bebe! Obviously, most people are going to have to buy the book if they want to read it this month.

          Yes, there’s most likely a LOT of greed involved here. Not on Harper Lee’s part — she doesn’t need the money; if she actually agreed to publish “Go Set a Watchman,” I’m sure it wasn’t for mercenary reasons. But, as you say, others — including a certain publishing company — most likely were seeing dollar signs in their dreams. HarperCollins is owned by Rupert Murdoch. Does that vile guy really need to get any wealthier? 😦

          Liked by 1 person

      • This is my take on the ‘Go Set a Watchman’ controversy:

        Of course, I haven’t read the book and can’t speak to it with first hand experience and it is a sobering development. However, the sad reality is that a person that defended a black man that was unjustly accused of a crime and convicted purely based on racist justification is not necessarily going to become a civil rights activist 20 years later. He was doing his job as a lawyer but the character must be seen in the context of his time. That’s just my take on the situation. I think we’ve all glorified Atticus based on his heroic stance in ‘TKAM’ but fail to see that he is nevertheless a product of his time and his environment.

        I will be getting a copy on the day of release and hope to read the book and review it in about a week or so. I’ll let everyone know what I think at that time.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Thanks, Brian, for the interesting comment — and for reporting back here after you read “Go Set a Watchman”! I’ll be eager to hear what you think. I’m now debating whether or not to read that book, and, if so, when — so what you say will have an influence. 🙂 As I’ve said before, your book reviews are terrific!

          You make a great point about Atticus Finch being a man of his time, but it’s jarring that he was seemingly more tolerant in the 1930s than the 1950s. Of course, people do change over the years — often becoming more conservative as they age.

          If Harper Lee had written “Go Set a Watchman” AFTER “To Kill a Mockingbird,” that change in Atticus might have been explored in a more satisfying fashion. Of course, I haven’t read “Go Set a Watchman,” so it’s hard for me to discuss this in any credible way!

          Liked by 1 person

          • I think we have all to a large extent glorified Atticus retrospectively from the lens of the last 50 years of racial evolution/devolution and civil rights advances. We’re seeing Atticus as a hero based on our contemporary society. I think we often forget that he is a man of his time, which is the first half of the 20th century in southern Alabama. For a man of that time to be as courageous as we think he should be, he would be burning all his bridges, lose his career, his home and just about everything else. Only the fact that he was white would prevent him from being lynched. That’s the harsh reality. Also, ‘Go Set a Watchman’ is seen from Scout/Louise’s point of view even though it’s not first person narration. There’s a generation gap going on there, which simply accelerated throughout the 60’s. It was a huge step at that time for prosperous white male southerners to admit that black people should be treated EXACTLY equal to whites. Even Abraham Lincoln, 100 years earlier, as morally evolved as he was, didn’t make that leap. He was in favor of shipping black slaves and freedmen back to Africa but that idea was justifiably shot down.

            Liked by 1 person

          • X2 on that Dave.
            Excellent analysis by bobess48.. in today`s age we all need a superhero and Atticus was such for us I read the book first time in my teens and then many more times.
            Just because Atticus was white it is absolutely possible for anyone in twentieth century to be devoid of any prejudice which of course could come in any race.

            Liked by 1 person

            • bebe, Atticus Finch was indeed a hero and role model. I’ve heard a number of people became lawyers themselves because of him. I guess “Go Set a Watchman” punctures some of his near-saintliness. I love many novels that are realistic, depressing, etc., but thinking of Atticus as at least partly a bigot rather than an almost unprejudiced man is going to take some getting used to. 😦

              Liked by 1 person

        • You are so right in here…read the book long ago for the first time and then the book stuck with me and so many millions of others to have Atticus as the wonderful father and protector and then saw the movie.
          After all it was a novel and so is ” Go set a Watchman “.
          Please do let us know your take on the book .

          Liked by 1 person

          • bobess48 and bebe, great conversation!

            It’s true that Atticus — as wonderfully enlightened as he was for a white man in the 1930s South — was still sort of in his town’s “establishment,” still maintained a certain paternalism related to race (having an African-American housekeeper would be one example), and had a certain “protection” because of his color.

            And, yes, a generation gap and a novel’s point of view can affect how a character is depicted.

            Also, Atticus Finch indeed was/is a fictional figure (though partly based on Harper Lee’s father), and fictional characters of course don’t always act quite the same as real-life people.


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  5. I saw Iago had gotten a nod and realized he’s a sort beyond whom as a category of jealousy, one cannot go– except I would also say he is consumed himself in the blaze of his hatred of Othello– his devotion to Othello’s total destruction is total. He does not want Desdemona, or to command an army in Othello’s place; he wants Othello’s obliteration; after which, he might imagine he would be satisfied, but if he would be, it would be only because Othello is no more, not because he himself has gained anything else.

    In the late 60’s, at the Hollywood Bowl, if I remember correctly, there was a performance of Othello that, though I’ve only seen a still photograph, I’ve always been certain was inspired, at least in its casting: Jerry Lee Lewis appeared as Iago, and, according to attendees, inhabited the role with his peculiar genius. And that was years before he attempted to drive his Cadillac through the gates of Graceland….

    Glad to see you back at the blog, Dave!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, jhNY! Glad to be back writing the blog, and to see everyone’s great comments again — including yours. 🙂

      Yes, to call Iago jealous is an understatement. He’s a brew of all kinds of negative/destructive emotions and actions — chiefly having it in for Othello.

      I’ve never heard of that ’60s Hollywood Bowl staging of “Othello” with Jerry Lee Lewis as Iago. Wow — talk about offbeat casting!

      As you most likely know, the most famous rendition of “Othello” is probably the 1940s Broadway one with Paul Robeson in the title role, Jose Ferrer as Iago, and Uta Hagen as Desdemona. Must have been amazing. I have a Paul Robeson album on which he recites some “Othello” lines, and he’s riveting.


      • It’s been closed for years, but there was a local music store in downtown Memphis called Poptunes. 45s, 78s, cassette singles, CDs, LPs…you name it, Poptunes had it.

        I remember buying a double cassette of Paul Robeson’s recordings, something like a ‘Best of’ type of collection. Ol’ Man River was the first track on the cassette. I listened to that song multiple times, but there were quite a few tracks that I liked too (Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, Joshua Fit The Battle of Jericho, Mah Lindy Lou). Paul Robeson’s voice was unreal. I can’t even describe how powerful it was.

        Ol’ Man River was a tradition at the Memphis In May festival. The late James Hyter performed it every year with the Memphis Symphony Orchestra. It was always the most popular event.

        I like the pictures of the Mississippi River and nostalgic Memphis photos on this video. Great pictures to match a great performance.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I miss that kind of local music store, Ana. Still a few around (like Princeton Record Exchange in New Jersey), but not many.

          I have two Paul Robeson albums — one of a memorable 1958 concert he gave in Carnegie Hall, and another that’s a re-release of songs he sang when he was a young man in the 1920s. His voice, especially in middle age, was indeed stunning. So deep and emotional.

          Robeson was a 1919 alumnus of Rutgers College, which I attended, and I learned a lot about him there when Rutgers during the first half of the 1970s was trying to be nice to Robeson after shunning him when he was unfairly blacklisted during the McCarthy era. By the ’70s he was a reclusive guy in ill health, and he died in 1976. I wrote an obituary of him for my college newspaper, and attended his open-coffin wake in Harlem. Wish I had “seen” him under much different circumstances. A rare combination of being an ultra-talented singer, actor, lawyer, athlete, activist, linguist (he knew many languages), etc.

          That’s a powerful version of “Ol’ Man River” you linked to. And, as you note, great/evocative visuals, too.


          • Digital music was the beginning of the end for a lot of independent music stores. When you have millions of songs at your fingertips, it’s hard to give that up. But record stores were so much more than buying music. They were hang-out spots on the weekend, a place where music lovers of various backgrounds could talk music, sit in the chairs and read the magazines, etc. Plus, you never knew who would stop by.

            Poptunes was popular with Elvis and B.B. King. I’ve heard that was Elvis’ favourite spot when he was a high school student at Humes. After becoming famous, he returned to the store to do promos. B.B. King used to play his guitar there, and caught the ear of someone who knew someone at a local radio station (WDIA). The rest is history. Losing independent music stores is like losing pieces of history.

            I didn’t know Paul Robeson spoke multiple languages. Not surprised though because people in the arts/humanities tend to be multi-talented.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Very true, Ana. The digital age made record stores irrelevant for many, but, as you say, there are some aspects of a “brick and mortar” place that can’t be duplicated online. And, from your description, what a history Poptunes had!

              Paul Robeson was also the author of an absorbing book (the part-autobiography “Here I Stand”), so he could write well, too.


    • RE: Jerry Lee Lewis, the next time you visit Nashville, you’ll probably want to stop by the Johnny Cash Museum. I was just there a few days ago. Incredible exhibits on Cash’s life and history of rockabilly musicians.

      My favourite and the most popular exhibits were the listening stations. Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis, Roy Orbison, and Carl Perkins have separate stations with their photos on top. You can listen to their music and watch videos on a docked iPad. The gift shop is neat too. I bought some handmade jewelry that was designed by one of the Cash sisters.

      Put this museum on your Nashville to-do list. We spent like 3 – 4 hours there just browsing and talking with other music lovers.

      Liked by 1 person

        • Nashville is just the beginning. Travel westbound on I-40, and you’ll hit the Rockabilly Museum and the Tina Turner Museum.

          The Tina Turner Museum is new. The building was converted from the one-room school she attended during her youth in rural West TN.

          Jackson is not as popular as Memphis or Nashville when it comes to music tourist sites. But so many musicians have come from Jackson, Brownsville, etc., so I’m glad to see that region is beginning to play up their influences and roles in music history.

          Have a good weekend:)

          Liked by 1 person

      • I’d like to see it! Though I am also very interested in the George Jones hologram at the George Jones museum. I look forward to seeing the Ghost Possum moving about in his techno afterlife.

        I once owned a Sun 78 0f Hey Porter, and a khaki shirt that had belonged to Johnny Cash’s tour bus driver, complete with American flag on sleeve and Cash’s name over the breast pocket. Running down the sleeve at the forearm was a phrase, now forgotten, that amounted to job description— something like ‘Bus Services’…. Alas, both items now belong to others who loved Cash more than I ever could–at least they got good homes.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Those are two interesting items you had, jhNY!

          As for the George Jones hologram…no comment. 🙂 (Except to say that “Ghost Possum moving about in his techno afterlife” is a GREAT line.)


  6. Jealousy is not a central element in Toni Morrison’s “Sula”, but it is still an important part because it explains the title character’s approach to life. Sula was a very unconventional woman. Despite growing up in a typical conservative rural environment in 1930s Ohio, she did not want to settle for that life. Sula escaped to the city, attended college, had a nice job, enjoyed nightlife and the company of several men, and lived her life on her terms.

    Back home, the women were very jealous of Sula. She had the freedom and independence they wished they could have. Rather than admire Sula for having the desire to escape her/their oppressive environment and seek a better, more fulfilling life, they accused her of being loose and evil. Sula knew her reputation around town; she didn’t care because she knew jealousy was making them lash out.

    Sula did not allow their words to change her life. She didn’t marry, have children, nor adapt that lifestyle of family-church-God that so many women in her community had accepted for themselves. I think she grew harder and more brash as a result of how people treated her.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tremendous example of jealousy, Ana! (As you know, I recently read — and was impressed by — “Sula” after you recommended it.)

      Envy can definitely move people to treat others quite badly. Sula was very independent, and, in an ideal world, should have been respected for that rather than hated for that. Of course, Sula had her flaws, too, but the life she led was admirable and unusual for that time and place and situation.


      • I love Toni Morrison’s writing style. It’s complex, yet the plots are easy to follow (if that makes any sense).

        It’s easy to have a love-hate relationship with Sula. You love her independence and strong personality, but you dislike her cold-hearted nature, and her betrayal of Nel.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I agree, Ana. Toni Morrison has one of the best writing styles of any living author. Very literary yet very down-to-earth.

          Yes, Sula was not exactly a warmhearted person.


          • I see shades of Zora Neale Hurston in some of Morrison’s writings. My mind wanders to Their Eyes Were Watching God whenever I read Sula. It’s like Toni Morrison took the Janie character from Their Eyes…and created two separate people, Sula and Nel. I definitely see similarities between all three.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Eloquently stated, Ana. I agree that there are some similarities in the writing of Toni Morrison and Zora Neale Hurston. And the very different Sula and Nel are indeed sort of two sides of the same coin — something, if I’m recalling right, that Toni Morrison alluded to in her novel.


    • 6 years late to the party I am. Here through Determined scrolling in search of Sula. I just knew I would find it. What a Victory! I’m about 5 hours into this exquisite place. Internet with timeless value and infinite perspective for Us craving as We. My keywords “Kurt Vonnegut Stephen King Roland” + the above Determined scrolling+ my own Serendipity = as per usual SUCCESS.
      Many thanks.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. You mentioned Davy and Paul from Anne of Avonlea, so I’ll mention a couple more jealous relationships from the Anne of Green Gables series:

    Anne of Windy Poplars – After graduating from Redmond College, Anne became principal of a school in Summerside on Prince Edward Island. She constantly had run-ins with one of her colleagues named Katherine Brooks.

    Brooks was very nasty and hostile to Anne. Anne eventually broke through to Katherine and found out the reasons why she despised her so: Katherine was older than Anne, had more teaching experience than her, yet was overlooked for the principal’s job. She was jealous that Anne was hired in that position. They worked through their problems and became friends in the end.

    Anne’s House of Dreams – Anne and Gilbert got married after he completed medical school. They found a home near Gilbert’s new medical practice. One of their neighbours named Leslie Moore became an automatic thorn in Anne’s side. Just like Katherine in Windy Poplars, Leslie took an instant dislike of Anne, and Anne didn’t understand why.

    Leslie revealed that she was envious of the perfect life Anne and Gilbert built together. Her own romantic life was in shambles. She was trapped in an arranged, loveless marriage to a terminally ill older man. Leslie spent a good part of her youth being his caretaker. She was resentful of any young woman who had a good, healthy relationship with a boyfriend/husband/partner, so naturally Anne became her enemy.

    There is something that has always bothered me about the Leslie character. After Anne and Gilbert’s first child died, Leslie got closer to Anne. Her reason for doing that was warped. She felt that Anne could finally relate to pain and heartache. You get the impression that she wished Anne would go through something traumatic such as the loss of a child just so her perfect life could be shaken up, and she would know how it feels to hurt.

    Wishing someone would suffer a personal loss just so “they can be taught a lesson and experience pain” is disturbing to me. Katherine’s envy of Anne was more understandable and palatable than Leslie’s.

    Despite that questionable dynamic between Anne and Leslie, Anne’s House of Dreams is quite enjoyable. I really like the Captain Jim character.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Ana, for those additional examples of envy from the great work of L.M. Montgomery. Excellent descriptive writing! And very interesting thoughts about how some unhappy people want to/need to see others unhappy. Human nature, I guess, but many people rise above that.

      Also, in the original “Anne of Green Gables,” Anne was (initially) jealous of kids who had families, who had nicer clothes, who didn’t have red hair and freckles, etc. Of course, Anne was the kind of smart, imaginative, and original person others might be jealous of. 🙂


      • Anne Shirley does not give me green eyes, but I’ll tell you who does. Everyone who got a chance to attend the Grateful Dead farewell concerts.

        Since I couldn’t attend any of those shows during my layover in Chicago, I just walked down to Soldier Field and took a selfie with a Deadhead (he was really cool about it). See that way, I can lie and pretend like I was there.

        Any friend: “Ana, did you go to a Grateful Dead concert?”
        Me: “uhhh, yeah…here’s proof…I took a pic with another fan outside the venue.”


        Liked by 1 person

        • Well, at least you were close to where the Grateful Dead played. 🙂

          I like(d) the Dead, but was never a HUGE fan.

          I’m now remembering the Rush induction ceremony (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame) that you saw live. Presenter Dave Grohl said the loyalty/enthusiasm of Rush fans could only be compared to that of Dead fans. 🙂


          • That’s right, Dave. Being at the venue totally counts:)

            Grohl was right. The Dead and Rush have very dedicated fan bases. Rush fans were rowdy at the induction ceremony, I won’t pretend that we weren’t. And you wouldn’t believe the amount of money some fans spent to get the front seats. My cheap seats and 16x optical lens camera were good enough for me.

            Vancouver concert is on the 17th. I heard the Newark and NYC shows were incredible. Not surprised because Geddy and the boys give their all during every performance.

            Liked by 1 person

            • “Dedicated” — that’s the word to describe those two bands’ fan bases!

              Hmm…I hadn’t thought of Hall of Fame-induction-ceremony prices, but some of those close-in seats sound VERY expensive.

              I read a couple of reviews of Rush’s Newark show, and they were VERY positive. Enjoy the concert on the 17th! U2 is on the 19th for me. 🙂


  8. In Mark Twain’s “Pudd’nhead Wilson”, Tom Driscoll had jealous tendencies towards several people. One person was Chambers. Chambers was a quiet young man, but he had superior athletic skills and agility that Tom coveted. He was cruel to Chambers, often hitting and degrading him because Chambers possessed skills that Tom wished he had.

    The Italian newcomers, twin brothers Luigi and Angelo, fared worse than Chambers at the hands of Tom. The twins were handsome, sociable, popular with the women, and generally well-liked by everyone in town. Naturally, Tom was envious of them because he didn’t like the idea of “strangers” coming into his environment and winning the affections of the townspeople.

    Tom temporary left Chambers alone and turned all of his attention on the twins. He goaded one into a fight, began stealing from houses to pay off his gambling debts and blamed the twins for the thefts. This continued until the twins got accused of murdering Tom’s uncle, a prominent judge from Virginia. Tom figured that a lengthy prison sentence (or death) for the twins would take care of his problem. But things didn’t work out as he planned.

    Pudd’nhead Wilson is one of my favourite short stories. I like the way Twain developed the Tom character…the son and grandson of a wealthy prominent family, he had social status, and pretty much everything one needs to guarantee success in life. And look how he turned out. A jealous, violent, petty, degenerate gambler (and murderer) who ruined the family name. Goes to show that people with wealth and class can become victims of human nature (in Tom’s case, envy) just like anyone else.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great example of jealous feelings in literature, Ana! “Pudd’nhead Wilson” is an uneven later-career work from Twain, but the good parts are VERY good. Definitely “The Prince and the Pauper”-like when the lives of two “Pudd’nhead Wilson” characters get “swapped,” and “The Prince and the Pauper” had its envy elements, too.


  9. Another fantastic book by Daphne de Maurier is “My Cousin Rachel.” Phillip is so jealous when his cousin Ambrose Ashley falls in love with and marries “Rachel.” She essentially takes Ambrose away from him and their life together as bachelors. In fact, she takes Ambrose away from him forever, and he can’t help but believe evil things about her. The book has so many twists and turns! It’s been years since I read it, but I do recall that Phillip let the green-eyed monster get the best of him to the point that he lost his judgement, to say the least.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Don’t know why I didn’t think of this earlier. Balzac’s last novel, ‘Cousin Bette’, has a plot that rests completely on a foundation of jealousy taken to that extreme of revenge. The poor, unattractive spinster cousin Bette of the title has always been considered the poor relation. She envies the success of the affluent relatives and, through a fairly involved sequence of cross current maneuverings, she plots their downfall. The great irony of this novel is that she largely succeeds, not only in bringing so many people to ruination but by doing it with total impunity. She dies with no one the wiser. In fact, she is remembered fondly by surviving relatives by the reliable spinster aunt/cousin Bette. Dave, if you haven’t read this particular Balzac novel, make sure it’s the next one you read. In my opinion, it rates as one of the very best. Of course, it’s the one that hastened his death as well. Reportedly, he was so exhausted and his health was so depleted by the time he finished it that he died shortly after its completion.

    Liked by 1 person

    • bobess48, that’s a Balzac novel I haven’t read, and now I’m eager to do so. Thanks for describing it so well!

      Balzac indeed worked himself into exhaustion — the number of things he wrote was incredible for someone who lived to only 51 — and I guess “Cousin Bette” was the final straw.


  11. Welcome back, Dave 🙂 In Steinbeck ‘s East of Eden, brother Caleb was exceptionally jealous of his brother Aron
    He vied for his fathers love and affection which Aron had,effortlessly. Cal would beg,borrow and steal to get to his fathers good graces. Sadly it was unrequited,sometimes there is only so much we can do to obtain favor. This is a Cain and Abel story biblical in nature.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the welcome back, Michele!

      “East of Eden” is an excellent example of a novel with a strong envy element. Great description of that! And Steinbeck indeed included all kinds of Biblical allusions in the book — via character names and plot situations. Jealousy is certainly part of the Bible. 🙂


  12. Dave,

    I can’t help but think of the corporate envy affecting a novel. A recent movie release brought back to mind the espionage and attempted theft of the dinosaur embryos in “Jurassic Park.” Biosyn’s attempted theft of Ingen’s creations is the push for the adventure in the first book.

    I recently read, “Uglies” by Scott Westerfeld. The book’s main character is a teenage girl who spends time being jealous of Pretties and having a friend jealous of her over a boy.

    I also finished Seamus Heaney’s translation of “Beowulf” and Unfirth, a great warrior in his own right, is jealous of Beowulf’s talents. Leading to first a taunt and later friendship

    Its a well used and very useful tool in literature, glad you brought it up.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re right, GL — jealousy is definitely a prominent and effective tool in literature.

      And, yes, corporate envy is in lots of fiction, just as it’s a major part of real life. One early novelistic example is Emile Zola’s “The Ladies’ Delight” (1883), in which Parisian mom-and-pop-store owners are jealous of a huge department store that pushes them out of business. Zola would not have liked Walmart.

      Congratulations on reading “Beowulf”! I’ve never quite had it in me to try it. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • This was my third translation. I highly recommend the Heaney one. His working knowledge of both poetry and a direct language descendant makes it far easier to read than Tolkien’s prose or the older translations that try to make it “Shakespearean.”

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thanks, GL! If I read “Beowulf,” I’ll look for that translation.

          (I think the only work I’ve read from roughly that time period is “The Tale of Genji,” which was quite good in parts.)

          Interesting how some translations can make a work “anachronistic” — if that word can be used to describe putting the tone of a work several hundred years ahead (such as from the time of “Beowulf” to the time of Shakespeare).

          Liked by 1 person

          • Yes, the use of an older tone or words can make a work more ponderous to read or even unbearable. “The Woods at the End of the World” is that way. It was published in the 1890s yet the author used and older style of writing in an attempt to give the book a weight of age, but it just ends up being a clunky read even if the story is goo.

            Liked by 1 person

            • I agree, GL. That can often be VERY clunky.

              But sometime it works. One example I can think of is Steinbeck’s “Tortilla Flat,” which is set in the 1930s (I think) amid a bunch of characters living on the margins of society but uses a sort of Camelot-era language from more than a millennium before. The contrast provides a lot of the “comic” in the “seriocomic” nature of that excellent novel.

              Liked by 1 person

  13. Howdy, Dave!

    — What are your favorite examples of jealousy in literature? —

    The Green-Eyed Monster has colored many a great novel, as you and others among the DAOLiterati have indicated, but I cannot imagine the emeraldine plotline of Vladimir Nabokov’s “Lolita” without the associated hues of the pernicious relationship between Clare Quilty and Humbert Humbert. Cain and Abel ain’t got nothin’ on those two.

    J.J. (Alias MugRuith1) [Man! I wish I had a cool handle like that.]

    P.S.: Hope you had a great time in the exotic heartland of Indiana, which I likely would appreciate more had Larry Bird been signed not by the Boston Celtics but by the New York Knicks!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, J.J.! “Lolita” is a great addition to this discussion! Unfortunately, I have little memory of the details of that novel because the only time I read it was way back in college. 😦

      I did recently read Nabokov’s “Pale Fire,” and the almost-stalker-ish Charles Kinbote character seems more than a little jealous of the poet John Shade — who’s a “somebody” while Kinbote is basically a “nobody.”

      As for the Knicks, they seem to have made virtually every wrong move possible since before Larry Bird entered the NBA. I am NOT jealous of any of their season-ticket holders. 🙂


      • — I did recently read Nabokov’s “Pale Fire” —

        It’s amazing how little of V.N.’s stuff I have read. I am adding “Pale Fire” to my Life List here and now. (Hey! If birders can have Life Lists, then worders can, too.)

        — the almost-stalker-ish Charles Kinbote character seems more than a little jealous of the poet John Shade — who’s a “somebody” while Kinbote is basically a “nobody.” —

        This is the kind of thing that gives V.N.’s national origins away: In terms of name recognition, Yevgeny Yevtushenko was a “somebody” back in the U.S.S.R., while Robert Frost was basically a “nobody” in the U.S.

        Liked by 1 person

        • J.J., “Pale Fire” is actually hilarious in parts — as well as very strange, in format and otherwise. For instance, part of the novel is a poem.

          Well, at least (an elderly) Robert Frost appeared at JFK’s inauguration. 🙂


  14. My main character exhibited some petty jealousy over her new “love” interest in the early part of “Here’s Clare” and “hate” toward her political opponent, but “fear” didn’t stop her from pursuing her goals.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Robert, nicely stated way of mentioning those four primal emotions from my first paragraph. 🙂

      I read your excellent “Here’s Clare” novel last summer, and I remember the things you’re talking about. Your book is a great mix of the personal and political, and envy can certainly be (abundantly) found in romantic relationships and unromantic election campaigns!


  15. Welcome back, Dave!

    I’m jealous that Pat got to mention “Rebecca” before I did, as it was also the book that I thought of while reading your (as usual) very entertaining column.

    I’m currently reading “Middlemarch”, and while I wouldn’t yet call the “insufferable” Reverend Cauaubon jealous, I can certainly see how that might happen. I certainly like Mr Ladislaw a lot more than I do the Reverend!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the welcome back, Susan! Great to hear from you!

      Well, “Rebecca” is good enough to mention twice. 🙂

      Nice that you’re reading “Middlemarch”! I found it a bit slow at times, but ultimately very rewarding. Despite what I wrote in my column, I’m actually not totally sure if Casaubon was jealous of Will Ladislaw or just disliked him or didn’t respect him because he (Will) wasn’t as dull and “responsible” and hardworking as Casaubon (who may have thought he was hardworking but was more talk than action). Yes, Will, despite his flaws, was a LOT more likable than the quietly hateful Casaubon.


  16. Hi Dave … Welcome back! Hope you and your family had a wonderful 4th. As I read your post, Daphne Du Maurier’s “Rebecca” comes to mind. I think the “second Mrs. de Winter, as she was referenced in the book, must have felt jealousy toward Rebecca in the beginning. It wasn’t the green-eyed envy kind of the jealousy, as she acted from a sincere and unselfish desire to make her husband happy. But as Mrs. Danvers continued to undermine her every effort, the desperation to be “good enough” must have left her feeling envious of Rebecca’s flawlessness, which, of course, turned out to be non-existent. Hope you have a great week, Dave. See you next time 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Pat! Very happy to be back. 🙂 Hope you had a great July 4th, too! One thing I did that day was see the Pixar movie “Inside Out,” which I thought was excellent and had an amazingly clever premise but not quite the emotional impact of something like Pixar’s “Up” or “Wall-E.”

      That’s an insightful, eloquent mention of “Rebecca.” Du Maurier was a superb writer, and jealousy is one thing she conveyed intensely and very well.

      Have a nice week, too!


      • If you ever want me to change a comment, Pat, let me know. This blog gives me the capacity to edit any comment, but unfortunately doesn’t allow people to edit their own comments. 😦


  17. I think about Unguentine (sp?) in Custom of the Country. She was envious all the time and was putting pressure on her parents to help her maintain a certain lifestyle so that she can be envy provoking and. She was so full of self pity that her coldness towards her husband and her son caused a major tragedy. Somehow she always came out of her situations unscathed and no one was the wiser.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Undine Spragg? A great mention, Claire! That amoral, ruthless character was indeed very jealous — including of the wealthy elite she wanted to join, and succeeded in joining. As you say, she did seem to usually emerge unscathed despite behaving so badly. “The Custom of the Country” is a depressing but excellent Edith Wharton novel.


  18. I second Bill Tammeus’s comments, Dave! And i “love” your literature columns, “hate” that I don’t have your command of the English language, “fear” that I never will, and am “jealous” that…oh oh. This is beginning to sound Bilblical., Yes! There’s a book I’ve read (some of) that addresses all those topics!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, great to see you in Indianapolis, Cathy!

      Loved your kind comment and its funny riff on the emotions I mentioned in my first paragraph. I know it was said drolly but you have nothing to be jealous about when it comes to writing. Your 2015 real-estate book expertly mixes humor and educational info. Might I call it the Bible of that profession? 🙂


  19. Lovely to spend time with you in Indy recently, Dave. As for envy, let’s not forget several examples in “Anna Karenina” and my own envy of your ability to write such interesting pieces about literature.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great to see you at the conference, too, Bill! And thanks for the (clever segue of) kind words. 🙂

      Yes, plenty of jealousy in “Anna Karenina.” Nineteen-century Russian literature definitely has its share of envy, such as the vile father’s jealousy of the son he competes with for the affections of the same woman in Dostoyevsky’s “The Brothers Karamazov.”


  20. Thanks, Dave and welcome back! I would say that calling Iago ‘a bit envious’ is an understatement. As I recall, Iago saw his mission in life to destroy Othello by any means necessary. Of course, envy and jealousy are closely related. I would say that envy is the mildest form on the spectrum and is hopefully contained within just a few passing thoughts. Jealousy is a more obsessive variety but, as with Iago, it can escalate to full scale revenge. Of course, in the case of Casaubon in ‘Middlemarch’ he just seems to be jealous of Will’s existence, nothing Will has said or done and a close attachment with Dorothea is simply the development that pushes it to a head. I can’t think of any specific examples in the fiction that I’ve read beyond what you mentioned other than that as I recall Uriah Heep in ‘David Copperfield’ harbored feelings of envy, probably escalating to jealousy of David in that novel (it was over 20 years ago that I read it).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Brian! Glad to be back writing this blog!

      My line about Iago was meant to be sarcastically understated; not sure I succeeded. 🙂 That character was definitely consumed with jealousy and other negative emotions.

      Great point about Casaubon; he just couldn’t stand Will’s existence. Maybe on some level he realized he was as dry as dust while Will had some life in him (and was younger). I imagine some writers were envious of George Eliot’s stupendous writing ability!

      Unfortunately, I haven’t read “David Copperfield” in a long time, either.


  21. Thanks to Donny Backes Jr. and Almost Iowa for recommending the Aubrey-Maturin series; to Donny, bebe, and Kari Anne Dorstad for recommending “The Old Man and the Sea”; and to Ana for recommending Joan Barfoot!


      • Ana, you definitely said nice things about that author under a recent column. 🙂 Not sure if you specifically mentioned “Duet for Three,” but that was the one Joan Barfoot novel in my local library. A very absorbing look at a troubled mother-daughter relationship.


          • I forget under which blog post you mentioned Joan Barfoot, Ana. “Duet for Three” could have certainly fit into my teachers-in-lit post this spring, but I’m not sure if that was it.

            I liked “Duet for Three” a lot. It really got into the psychology of why Aggie and (teacher) June were the way they are and why their relationship was so problematic. Barfoot was very skillful in showing those two characters in the present while also “flashbacking” into the past.


          • Ah, great that you found it, Ana! I had been away for a couple of hours, and wanted to quickly respond to your new comments without taking time to scroll through old comments sections. 🙂 Aggie, as a newly married woman, moved from a rural area to a house in a suburb-like town.

            Totally understand how tired and “brain full of travel experiences” you must be after your extended trip!


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