by Mary Norton
Mrs. Driver is a mean, green, fighting machine. She is super nasty to kids and borrowers, and the stunt she pulls at the end of the novel (locking the boy is his room) is, hands down, the worst thing she could possibly have done. Needless to say, she's a straight up villain, and Shmoop doesn't like her one bit.
Mean Through and Through
According to the boy, Mrs. D. is "fat, and has a mustache and gives me my bath and hurts my bruise and my sore elbow and says she'll take a slipper to me one of these days…" (10.4).
In other words, she's a real piece of work. While we forgive Mrs. Driver for wanting to give the boy a bath, abuse ("hurts my bruise and my sore elbow") or the threat of abuse ("take a slipper to me one of these days") is just not cool.
Mrs. Driver behaves absolutely awfully to almost all the characters in the novel, but most especially kids. She tells the boy, "You're a wicked, black-hearted, fribbling little pickpocket. That's what you are. And so are they [the borrowers]" (18.72).
Mrs. Driver's nastiness to kids comes back to bite her in the end, though, because "The policeman turned out to be Nellie Runacre's son Ernie, a boy Mrs. Driver had chased many a time for stealing russet apples from the tree by the gate—'a nasty, thieving, good for nothing dribbet of a no-good,' she told my brother" (19.25).
Because Mrs. Driver treated Ernie poorly when he was a boy, Ernie totally thwarts her efforts to lock up the borrowers for stealing. And we've got to say, she had it coming. It's called karma.
Mrs. Driver is villainous not only because she treats good people and borrowers poorly, but she's also got prejudice coming out her ears. She writes the borrowers off as thieves and sics dogs, cats, a rat-catcher, and even the police on them. But the funny thing is, Mrs. Driver herself seems to do a similar kind of stealing, only she thinks her kind of borrowing is justified:
A drop of Madeira here, a pair of old stockings there, a handkerchief or so, an odd vest, or an occasional pair of gloves—these, Mrs. Driver thought, were different; these were within her rights. But trinkets out of the drawing room cabinet—that, she told herself grimly, staring at the depleted shelves, was a different story altogether!" (16.10).
Really? Is what Mrs. Driver does so different from the very creatures she is so prejudiced against? We think not, thank you very much.
Mrs. Driver herself does the very thing that she punishes others for. Her inability to be tolerant to others or to expand her worldview comes back to haunt her in the end, however; the policeman and Great-Aunt Sophy don't even believe her, and ignore her hypocritical calls for justice.
Although we don't know that the Borrowers successfully escape, we definitely get the sense that Mrs. Driver, and her prejudicial way of thinking, are defeated in the end. At least, we hope so.