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|Inattentive & Self-Centered
Written by Robbin
(9/13/2009 5:02 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Willoughby in action. (long), penned by nan duval
Willoughby for all his devoted attention to Marianne does little to protect her reputation by monopolizing her time at social functions, taking her to Allenham or giving her an extravagant gift. I have noticed there is often an element of inattention or self-centeredness to Willoughby’s actions. I think Queen Mab (Ch. 12) was an impropriate gift because he has no formal connection to Marianne and her acceptance would have suggested an intimate one. At best folks might have assumed they were secretly engaged. I agree he did not think about the hardships such a gift would impose on Mrs. Dashwood, actually the entire family.
I think Willoughby’s declaration against improving the cottage does suggest his esteem for Marianne but it is really more about him and how much he has enjoyed the cottage and its inhabitants. It is rather self-centered because he wishes them and the cottage to stay exactly as it is for his benefit but I think the sentiment is not uncommon and I would normally consider such a statement of little consequence. People often wish others and places could always remain the same when they have been happy there but what makes Willoughby’s adulation of the cottage and criticism of the proposed improvements of import is that Mrs. Dashwood takes him quite seriously:
“I would not sacrifice one sentiment of local attachment of yours, or of any one whom I loved, for all the improvements in the world.” (Ch. 14)
Willoughby gives no allowance to the fact that improvements could make the cottage’s inhabitants happier and more comfortable. There is no evidence any consideration for them even occurs to him. I also think Marianne and her mother attribute a great deal of meaning to the following although it really says little about how he feels about Marianne:
"There certainly are circumstances," said Willoughby, "which might greatly endear it to me; but this place will always have one claim on my affection, which no other can possibly share."
Mrs. Dashwood looked with pleasure at Marianne, whose fine eyes were fixed so expressively on Willoughby, as plainly denoted how well she understood him. (Ch. 14)
I think what Willoughby is really saying is that Marianne has made him feel happy at Barton Cottage but I do not think that is really the same as declaring love for her. (:D)
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