by George Eliot
When we meet Priscilla, Nancy Lammeter's sister, she's labeled an "excellent housewife" (1.5.1), and then later "cheerful-looking" and "blowsy" (1.11.10), with attitude that some in the neighborhood think a little too rough. Priscilla's speech is heavy with dialect, like when she talks to Nancy about the color of the dresses they're wearing: "But as for being ugly, look at me, child, in this silver-coloured silk—I told you how it 'ud be—I look as yallow as a daffadil. Anybody 'ud say you wanted to make a mawkin of me" (1.11.17). She knows that she's not beautiful, but she doesn't care; her entire goal is to make the people around her happy, to see Nancy married and to make a home for her father: "I shall do credit to a single life, for God A'mighty meant me for it" (1.11.25).
In some ways, Priscilla is a wealthier version of Dolly Winthrop. Both of them are dedicated to their roles as women, but not the delicate fainting women that you might associate with Victorian novels. Priscilla is a hard worker. She bustles, orders, tends, fixes, and mends. And like Dolly, she has firm ideas about male and female roles, good and bad: "It drives me past patience […] that way 'o the men—always wanting and wanting, and never easy with what they've got" (2.13.17). Priscilla is a breath of fresh air next to the (it has to be said) stuffy Nancy, and her country ways are funny—but she's also a very sympathetic character. Only a Mean Girl would laugh at Priscilla, instead of with her.