She is grumpy and believes herself to be superior in common sense to Douglas Starr, although this is proven wrong when she was very unsubtle in telling Emily about the fate of her father. Even when she sees Emily's reaction of shock and heartbreak, she continues to explain how she believed to be in the right.
She isn't very fond of the Starrs, only feels sorry for Emily. Ellen doesn't have much empathy (as shown before) and possibly had Emily's cat killed after she left him in Ellen's care. She is simple and isn't of much use.