11 worst couples in literature: Madeline Bray and Arthur Gride from Nicholas Nickleby

List_Nicholas_Nic_Gride and madeline

No. 4.  Madeline Bray and Arthur Gride from Nicholas Nickleby (Charles Dickens)

Spoiler alert!

The only reason this marriage doesn’t happen is that Madeline’s father dies one hour before the ceremony is due to begin. But imagine if it had. She is a sweet-natured 18 year old beauty, while he is a 75 year old miser, not known to have ever performed a good deed in his life. He claims he is marrying for lust, but surely his main motivation is that he’s illegally obtained private deeds showing Madeline will inherit £15,000 when she marries.

“You, the disappointed lover–oh dear! He! he! he!–but you shan’t have her, nor she you. She’s my wife, my doting little wife. Do you think she’ll miss you? Do you think she’ll weep? I shall like to see her weep–I shan’t mind it. She looks prettier in tears.”

On the plus side it’s doubtful Gride would have lived long. If you are going into a very bad marriage it’s probably best if your other half is rich, almost 60 years your senior and frail. But, oh dear, no – not a good couple.

The Long Victorian


Worst couples in literature – The complete list

No. 11.  Charlotte Lucas and Mr. Collins from Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)

No. 10.  Rosamund Vincy and Dr Lydgate from Middlemarch (George Eliot)

No. 9.  Lydia and George Wickham from Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)

No. 8.  Dorothea and Edward Casaubon from Middlemarch (George Eliot)

No. 7.  Arabella Donn and Jude Fawley from Jude the Obscure (Thomas Hardy)

No. 6.  Anna Karenina and Alexei Vronsky from Anna Karenina (Leo Tolstoy)

No. 5.  Bertha and Edward Rochester from Jane Eyre (Charlotte Brontë)

No. 4.  Madeline Bray and Arthur Gride from Nicholas Nickleby (Charles Dickens)

No.3.  Laura Fairlie and Sir Percival Glyde from The Woman in White (Wilkie Collins)

No.2.  Angel & Tess and Alec & Tess from Tess of the d’Urbervilles (Thomas Hardy)

No.1  Heathcliff and Catherine from Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)


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