Austen's heroines are all wonderful in their own ways, and the heroes in a lesser degree all have their strengths. She also created a host of entertaining, and occasionally horrifying, comic monsters. But my favorite character is a secondary one, a person who doesn't figure hugely in the plot, but without whom the entire shape and tone of the novel would be different.
Miss Bates, of Emma. She's like a walking hurricane of inane chatter, and her presence gives the novel its sense of community; all of the minutiae of a country village is encapsulated in her dialogue monologues.
Here's just a tiny sample:
I declare I cannot recollect what I was talking of. --Oh! my mother's spectacles. So very obliging of Mr. Churchill! 'Oh!' said he, 'I do think I can fasten the rivet; I like a job of this kind excessively.'---Which you know showed him to be so very...Indeed I must say that, much as I had heard of him before and much as I had expected, he very far exceeds anything...I do congratulate you, Mrs. Weston, most warmly. He seems ever thing the fondest parent could...'Oh!' said he, 'I can fasten the rivet. I like a job of that sort excessively.' I never shall forget his manner. And when I brought out the baked apples from the closet, and hoped our friends would be so very obliging as to take some, 'Oh!' said he directly, 'there is nothing in the way of fruit half so good, and these are the finest-looking home-baked apples I ever saw in my life.' That, you know, was so very.... And I am sure, by his manner, it was no compliment. Indeed they were very delightful apples, and Mrs. Wallis does them full justice-- only we do not have them baked more than twice, and Mr. Woodhouse made us promise to have them done three times--but Miss Woodhouse will be so good as not to mention it. The apples themselves are the very finest for baking, beyond a doubt; all from Donwell-- some of Mr.s Knightly's most liberal supply.....
And this continues for 2 1/2 pages.