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|Willoughby had no Right
Written by Robbin
(10/12/2009 4:27 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Marianne in love, penned by Bridget D
If Willoughby ever thought Marianne to be a worldly young woman surely after conversing with her for just a few minutes any idea of it would be vanquished by her sensibilities and romantic refinements. I do not believe Marianne’s readiness to fall in love with her dream man skewed her perceptions so much she mistakes a flirtation for a real love affair. A flirtation would not occur to her for three reasons. Marianne, IMHO, would find the idea of pretend love making disgusting, to be a flirt was no compliment (think of Lydia Bennet) and a flirtation that could be mistaken for serious intent was not considered an innocent pastime:
To Flirt: To act with levity; to be guilty of a kind of coquetry. Flirt: A pert young hussy. Pert; wanton. Flirtation: A desire of attracting notice. Ref: A Dictionary of the English Language by Samuel Johnson, 1824.
Flirting as in, to court triflingly or act amorously without serious intentions; play at love; coquet (dictionary.com) was not honorable behavior. To make love to girl (courting) was serious business and not to be indulged in lightly because it could ruin her reputation and he might find himself honor bound. A man who was a gentleman in fact as well as by reputation would not conduct such a flirtation. In Persuasion Captain Wentworth found he “had entangled himself” with Louisa Musgrove and he “was hers in honour if she wished it per Ch. 23:
"I found," said he, "that I was considered by Harville an engaged man! That neither Harville nor his wife entertained a doubt of our mutual attachment. I was startled and shocked. To a degree, I could contradict this instantly; but when I began to reflect that others might have felt the same -- her own family, nay, perhaps herself -- I was no longer at my own disposal. I was hers in honour if she wished it. I had been unguarded. I had not thought seriously on this subject before. I had not considered that my excessive intimacy must have its danger of ill consequence in many ways; and that I had no right to be trying whether I could attach myself to either of the girls, at the risk of raising even an unpleasant report, were there no other ill effects. I had been grossly wrong, and must abide the consequences." (P, Ch. 23)
Unlike the captain, Willoughby does not have the advantage of having been unguarded in his behavior. He did not consider himself to be innocently flirting with Marianne. All the intimacies Willoughby indulges in with Marianne are done purposely and with ill intent. In his own words: “I was acting in this manner [to please her], trying to engage her regard, without a thought of returning it.” (Ch. 44) Marianne saw in Willoughby exactly what he intended, a man who desired her attention, favor, and affection and that is exactly what he received. Although it was not, had Willoughby’s intent been merely to innocently flirt with Marianne he would have still been in the wrong. (:D)
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