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|Taking your question literally...
Written by Rachel G
(10/10/2009 8:49 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Does ANYONE agree that W explained himself? Let's vote!, penned by Cathy Allen
To answer your headline question literally, I'd say that Willoughby explains himself very fully, for the whole of a chapter. Problem is, his explanation doesn't have quite the effect on me that he might have hoped for (see my 'Forgiving Willoughby' post above). Seriously though, I think Ch.44 is masterly in the way it fleshes out and adds depth to our picture of him.
I find Willoughby an extremely interesting and quite complex character, which is not the same as liking or approving of him. He is interesting to me because I think in Willoughby JA has written a very coherent and realistic portrayal of a particular sort of person. He has many faults - egotism, sense of entitlement, lack of empathy, to name but a few. He is a vivid, high-energy, impulsive, hungry for kicks sort of character. I have met aspects of Willoughby many, many times, sometimes joined in a similarly talented and attractive package. I can really relate to Elinor's reverie towards the end of Ch.44, and her feeling of 'so much potential - what a waste!'.
Even Willoughby's failure to be deserving of wholehearted forgiveness is interesting to me because it seems realistic. I've had a good deal of involvement in various forms of counselling over the years, and in my experience personal change is seldom a single, 'road to Damascus' event. More often it is a long uncomfortable road, a two steps forward and one back sort of business. For the Willoughbys of this world to really change they first need first to start taking responsibility. In Ch.44 he doesn't seem to have really done so yet, but I can't help wishing that he would.
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