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|How does W. get away with it? Timing is all
Written by Delories
(10/24/2006 9:10 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, How does Willoughby get away with it? (long), penned by Delories
The ON is very careful to present Willoughby as the Romantic paragon of Marianne's dreams: handsome, literate, with a keen appreciation for the arts and literature (or least the arts and lit. fashionable amongst the Romantics), well-bred, bright financial prospects...
When Willoughby first appears on the scene as "Marianne's preserver", as Margaret puts it, the ON knows that he has already ruined Eliza II. But Col. B. doesn't know this, and neither do we.
This keeps W from being deemed an unfit beau for Marianne (or being forbidden to even get near her).
Still, the ON does show us conversations and conduct not _quite_ fitting in with the paragon image (e.g. insulting Col. B, not being entirely clear about his intentions ot Marianne...).
Then, Col. B. finds out about Eliza II's predicament, and charges off -- Major Ironic Moment here, when W makes the crack about "There are some people who cannot bear a party of pleasure." (When, of course, the Col's exit has to do with the consequences of one of W's own little parties... yuck!)
By the time the Col. Knows All, he believes -- along with just about everyone else -- that W and Marianne are nearly engaged, and so doesn't want to butt in, because, as he tells Elinor, "I had no hope of interfering with success; and sometimes I thought your sister's influence might yet reclaim him." (O, noble heart! *sigh*)
Then W, thankfully, disappears for awhile (because, as Col. B says, "after such dishonourable usage, who can tell what were his designs on her?") We don't know why, but the ON does.
We, the readers, are still in the dark, and it takes a pair of nasty blows -- the dance in London where we meet Miss Grey, and Col. B's confession to Elinor -- before we have all the info.
Willoughby's Confession (won't go into it because there's already a thread below) is when we finally get filled in on all the details, but by then we already know the Marianne has definitely dodged a brick!
Still, Elinor, against her own reason, actually winds up forgiving him, and even feeling a teensy bit sorry for him? Why???! The ON gives us a hint: it's That Charm again: "He held out his hand. She could not refuse to give him hers; he pressed it with affection. 'And you do think something better of me than you did?' said he, letting it fall, and leaning against the mantlepiece, as if forgetting he was to go."
In other words, now that he's got what he wanted out of Elinor, he goes back to his usual sunny self, leaning casually against the mantlepiece as if they could just settle into a nice friendly chat, now. Double EWWWW!
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