Miss Mary Earlwood is the close friend and confidant of the protagonist. She resides at Dunnistone Manor with her mother, her father and her sisters Harriet and Lettice. Like her siblings, she was raised by Anna.
Miss Earlwood has a frank demeanour and has little trouble asserting her opinions where it is within the bounds of decorum. She is intelligent, sensible and forthright, and is able to speak in blunt yet civil terms where it is needed, from rebuffing Mrs Norris to chastising Tom for his behaviour towards Phoebe.
Views on marriage
Like other gentleman's daughters, desires to wed a suitable husband in order to gain security. She considers affection in such a union to be preferably, but not necessary.
Her views on this matter emerge when she persuades the protagonist to marry Mr Digby rather than live as an old maid. Her initiative when it comes to securing a match is also evident when she asks the protagonist about whether she may pursue Mr Ashcroft.
- Mary's character seems to resemble that of Charlotte Lucas in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Both characters are close friends with the main character and hold a practical view of marriage.