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Written by Robbin
(10/15/2006 2:01 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Thoughts on Brandon, penned by James S.
Eliza was about three years old (Chapter 31) when Brandon takes over her care; like Barabara I think she was probably already named by then—her name is likely Elizabeth and there is no proof that she was not already called Eliza by her mother. I also think calling her Eliza rather than say Lizzy could also just be a way of honoring the first Eliza rather than unwillingness to let go specifically of her. I think Brandon has been sad over the first Eliza and his failure to help her before it was too late for fourteen years but no one captured his fancy until Marianne to displace her. I am not convinced that he was unwilling to let his fancy be captured before Marianne just that it was not. I do agree that removing himself to another country was extreme but he may have felt extreme action was needed. He may have felt the inclination to see Eliza would be too strong for both of them to overcome if he was close by and he is correct in thinking IMO that seeing each other would not lend to her acceptance of her marriage or any possible happiness in it. I think Brandon may also be trying to save both of their honors from this weakness. His removal is a very self-sacrificing action on Brandon’s part and I think it hurts him greatly because his remedy only made her fall that much more difficult to bear. His removal did not help and all and conceivably might have weakened her much because she was left with no friend in the world. Like many people Brandon finds that a decision made by a young man is regretted by the older man.
I think the fact that Marianne discourages him is a big factor in Brandon’s failure to court her despite his feelings and I am glad because if he did not abide by her wishes he would not be Brandon he would be something more akin to a Henry Crawford imposing himself on a young lady who does not desire his attentions—I do not see Brandon pushing himself on a lady. I think the course he chooses is the only one open to him and that is to show her by his behavior that he is a good kind and worthy person—unfortunately Willoughby’s appearance eclipses any such observations by Marianne even if she was inclined to see it. I also think one of the things you left out is very important to Brandon’s disposition and that is by the time he meets Marianne, Eliza II has been missing for eight months. Brandon loves her dearly—it is as if his own child has disappeared. I think this in itself is a viable source of sadness and reserve—not many parents or guardians would be ready to snatch up even a young eager bride while still trying to find out what happened to their charge—I will just move on with my life now without finding her, thank you very much!
I do not think Brandon chooses to fight a duel as opposed to telling Marianne about Willoughby. I think the duel is fought for the honor of Eliza and his—he does feel personally wronged by Willoughby himself. It is also a way of trying to make Willoughby admit his actions in a semi-public arena. Brandon’s reasons seem shaky for not exposing Willoughby immediately but I think they are valid enough to him and Elinor does not chastise him for not exposing Willoughby earlier so his reasons must seem valid to her also. I think telling such a personal story and Eliza’s also was something not to be done lightly and something unusual for the times. I think it is obvious that Brandon wants to keep Eliza’s story secret—as evidence of this I would point out that Mrs. Jennings does not even know Brandon’s “natural daughter” is missing. Mrs. Jennings also does not know the real story of the first Eliza. No one seems to know but Brandon, he has shared this story with no one—I think he carries these burdens alone and this might also impact on his sadness and reserve. Brandon’s reasons for keeping Willoughby’s disgrace to himself for so long:
1—he may feel exposing Willoughby is paramount to exposing Eliza and Brandon wishes to protect her from further harm. 2—Proof would be needed to expose Willoughby immediately. Marianne probably would not believe her dreamboat could do such a thing without valid proof. The reason Marianne believes it in Chapter 32 is that she has already experienced Willoughby’s betrayal. When Brandon finds out Eliza’s seducer there is no proof of Willoughby’s disgrace other than her word and that of her friend in Bath—who refused to tell where Eliza went. This means Brandon would have to expose Eliza and bring this other foolish girl into the mix and hope she remains discrete and that others would believe them. I think it is unlikely that Eliza’s friend will admit to knowing now about Eliza’s situation when she would not do so before since her father believed her lies. Again, fighting the duel may have been a way of forcing Willoughby to admit to his actions. 3—Brandon worries that exposing Willoughby to Marianne will be seen as jealousy—trying to look better in her eyes by disparaging him. This a kill the messenger type of thing. 4—Lastly, Brandon does not want to hurt Marianne unnecessarily if she has influenced him to change—before his betrayal if Willoughby swore to Marianne he had changed I can see that she would believe him so Brandon’s revelation would do no good.
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