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|I'm not sure where the onus of proof is, but...
Written by Tom P2
(10/15/2009 11:38 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Negative view of Willoughby, penned by Robbin
My own view of Mr Willoughby is that (A) his conduct is harmful, (B) his mind is selfish and impulsive and a bit resentful of the better and richer man, but nothing worse, which puts him about on a par with Mr Wickham, and (C) he's got more cash in hand and more by way of superficial personal attractions than Mr Wickham, which gives him more scope for doing harm. And that's about all.
I'm Doubtful of all the following popular anti-Willoughby arguments, which I've seen advanced by at least two different Pemberleans each, so please don't take my skepticism as being directed at any individuals.
"I've known Willoughby types in real life." This one can never be supported by enlightening details, if I rightly understand Pemberley's posting guidelines with respect to real people's privacy. It does, however, leave the impression that the writer may be eager to categorise people.
"Willoughby is a proven liar, so ..." This one tends to lead to discounting anything he says in his own favour, but I don't remember ever seeing it used to discount statements that reflect badly on himself, such as "always in the habit of associating with people of better income than myself" (ch44).
"He stopped just short of saying anything to Marianne that might make him legally liable for breach of promise." This one's a good catch, but the problem is that it's often followed by the claim that it's a cold and calculating and deliberate strategy on his part. I find it easier to believe that he's never before come close to making an actionable promise, and that he's only gradually expanding his conversational and behavioural horizons as he gets older. That's more in keeping with his general impulsiveness -- in keeping with its simply going to the core rather than being a veneer over something else.
I'm firmly of the opinion that Mr Willoughby's mind is open to a wide variety of interpretations. I choose to apply the saying "Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence." Most of the time, the subject doesn't seem worth arguing about.
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