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|Something wrong from his first visit
Written by Robbin
(9/15/2009 12:22 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Where did things start to go wrong?, penned by Karen G
At face value Willoughby is good looking, intelligent, eager and charming with affectionate manners. Sir John reveals Willoughby is an untiring dancer, a sportsman and good rider who has laudable dogs and from Willoughby himself we learn he breeds horses. None of this disturbs my mind but they do say nothing of the man’s principles or heart. His gift of Queen Mab would suggest he has a generous heart but it is also an improper and inconsiderate gift—it would cause more harm at Barton cottage than good. I could put it down to the eagerness of an unthinking lover but with his complaints of poverty (Ch. 15) how do I know part of his motivation is not to rid himself of the horse’s room and board? Other of his behavior also raises doubt about the quality of his character.
In Ch. 10 Willoughby “acquiesced in all her [Marianne’s] decisions, caught all her enthusiasm” apparently even if they were nothing to him previously yet he lets her believe they are simpatico with the same tastes and opinions. I do think this is significant. It means from the first visit Willoughby was not candid about himself and I have to question whether Marianne & Co. really know him. Willoughby is dishonest in other ways as well. He cheats at cards (Ch. 11) and it appears (Ch. 14) that he also lives beyond his income which means he spends money he does not possess.
Willoughby seems to have no care for Marianne’s reputation. If he did he would not monopolize all her time at social functions (Ch. 11) and lead her into improper situations such as accepting a gift (Ch. 12) a great deal too expensive for their acknowledged relationship or spirit her off alone for hours to tour a house (Ch. 13) that is not his and shows a tremendous lack of respect for his aunt. The same incidents illustrate he does not often consider the feelings of others or what is due to them. Willoughby abuses the dear Colonel and the ladies at the park in Ch. 10. Of the colonel he is particularly unjust and admits an extreme dislike and contempt but his reasons do not seem to justify the strength of his opinions—he appears envious of Brandon’s independence.
In Ch. 15 Willoughby left Barton under mysterious circumstances. He acts unlike the Willoughby they have come to know—he is reserved, he is unable to meet Mrs. Dashwood’s eye. His responses to her questions about why he is suddenly leaving and when he would return were deceptive. He was unwilling to commit himself to visiting Barton cottage in the future. Although he has been playing the lover to Marianne for weeks and indulged in the intimacies of an engaged man he made no formal or open declaration of honorable intent before leaving. I do not think this is honorable behavior. I think Elinor has good reason to worry about his relationship with her sister. (:D)
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