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Ooh-la-la. Everyone always wants an elegant French aunt, but what happens when she's got a bit of a nasty streak? Madame Cheron isn't the worst aunt in the world, but she's determined to keep Emily in line. She's also got a bit of a mouth on her: "So, niece, how do you do?" she says when she spots Em flirting with Valancourt soon after her dad's death. "But I need not ask, your looks tell me you have already recovered your loss" (1.9.30).
Ooh, burn. Madame Cheron has an intense sense of propriety when it comes to her supposedly rebellious niece.
There are a couple of things Auntie Cheron loves more than anything: being wealthy, being praised, and doing things to gain wealth and praise. Radcliffe gives it to us straight:
She wished her niece to marry ambitiously, not because she desired to see her in possession of the happiness… but because she desired to partake the importance, which such an alliance would give. (1.12.86)
Yep, she wants to marry Emily off to grab a little more power for herself.
Unfortunately, Madame Cheron misses some things while she's busy primping in the mirror. Like the fact that Signor Cavigni is poking fun of her with his excessive praise of her beauty (1.12.66). She needs an ego check, stat.
Okay, so Auntie Cheron isn't the most warm and fuzzy person on the planet. But what she lacks in kindness, she sure makes up in craftiness. She ropes Montoni into marrying her by pretending to be absurdly rich, even though that isn't exactly the case. And when Montoni wants to get his grubby paws all over her property, she hides the deed to the land where only Em will be able to find it (3.5.7). She's always thinking one step ahead because she assumes the worst, which is not entirely unlike her impulsive niece.