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|Leading Marianne astray
Written by Barbara
(9/12/2009 6:52 p.m.)
We have Willoughby's entrance in one thread and another about how he showed his dislike of Colonel Brandon. Since this week's entire reading is focused a great deal on Willoughby, I want to look at a slightly different aspect of him.
In Ch. 11, we read that as far as Willoughby was concerned, everything he did was right and everything he said was clever. We've already noticed how he has led her, by his example, to speak ill of the people from Barton Park and of Colonel Brandon who, as far as we know beyond what they say, is a gentlemanly, quiet, respectable man of whom many others have a high opinion.
Here is more behaviour into which Willoughby is leading Marianne:
It's surprising that she can still look upon cheating (even in fun), acting with impropriety and lack of consideration, bad-mouthing people, and exposing a young lady to gossip on numerous occasions as still being qualities of someone who has "virtue".
Despite Marianne's earlier declaration that 'virtue' was one of the main qualities she sought in her ideal man, she cannot or will not see or be made to see that there is anything wrong with this. Worse, she justifies it like this : "If there had been any real impropriety in what I did, I should have been sensible of it at the time, for we always know when we are acting wrong, and with such a conviction I could have had no pleasure."
However, beyond the hints Elinor tries to give Marianne, there really is no other indicator to Marianne that she is doing anything wrong at all, especially considering this: " Mrs. Dashwood entered into all their feelings with a warmth which left [her] no inclination for checking this excessive display of them. To her it was but the natural consequence of a strong affection in a young and ardent mind."
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