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|Judgement of a 16 year old
Written by Barb JA
(10/8/2009 10:48 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Eliza knowing better, penned by Bridget D
I think the crux of it, is that young girls may know something is wrong, but they are not emotionally mature enough to judge the situation properly, or to fully appreciate the consequences of their actions (informed consent).
Eliza most probably thought she was going to be married (as Reeba explained so clearly elsewhere) and was willing to run away with Willoughby. When you compare an impressionable teenager to a mature adult, their minds aren't evenly matched. I do believe I'm just repeating what Barbara just said above. But add to that the fact that because of the differences in their ages, the young girls are inclined to look up to the man in the relationship and be guided by him.
That is what makes Willoughby's and Wickham's behavior so despicable. They hid from the girls their true intentions. Imagine this, the girls think, "I love him and he loves me, Oh he wants to marry me, oh he thinks we should elope, well ok". They were brought along by degrees to do something that they knew to be wrong.*
Col. Brandon describing Eliza
The girls were guilty of being foolish, but that in no way absolves Willoughby or Wickham for taking advantage of their naivete. Just because it wasn't a crime in that time & society doesn't make it any less criminal and disgusting (to me anyway).
I was surprised to find on a Wikipedia map of "age of consent" in countries around the world, that it does vary quite a bit. Where I live it is 18 and that seems right to me. Perhaps people's opinions of Willoughby's actions are formed by their ideas of age of consent.
I'm quite of TimLee's opinion, as a parent of a teenager myself, I'd have liked to have seen W as a dead weight.
* Lydia never recognized/admitted that she did anything wrong. This is what I think people bash her for, poor girl. But that doesn't make Wickham any less guilty.
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