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|Willoughby invades Cleveland
Written by Robbin
(10/23/2012 8:47 a.m.)
Willoughby’s confession in Chapter 44 is a wealth of information. Actually too much information for one post so for everyone’s sake I will defer his lies, excuses and infinite ability to shift blame to lessen his own guilt till future messages (I hope!). Willoughby confirms many suspicions for Elinor (and readers) but in my humble opinion his demeanor is not right. It ought to contrite but I do not feel it. He is aggressive. He physically prevents Elinor from leaving the room:
Elinor, starting back with a look of horror at the sight of him, obeyed the first impulse of her heart in turning instantly to quit the room, and her hand was already on the lock, when its action was suspended by his hastily advancing, and saying, in a voice rather of command than supplication – (44)
He demands Elinor take a seat and hear him out. At this point she has asked him to be quick twice but he sits across from her “in an attitude of deep meditation, and seemed not to hear” (44) her second request. My point is he is trying to control their meeting without regard for Elinor’s request. It is not surprising because ought not to be at Cleveland:
"Mr. Willoughby, you ought to feel, and I certainly do -- that after what has passed -- your coming here in this manner, and forcing yourself upon my notice, requires a very particular excuse. What is it, that you mean by it?" (44)
Sir John told Willoughby the Palmers had left Cleveland. I have to wonder if he would have made his dash to Cleveland had he known Col Brandon was also a guest. I doubt it. I think believing Elinor and Marianne were alone is why he decided to make the trip. Young women without a male guardian are his specialty. In Bath Eliza was only attended by a girl her own age, Sophia is an orphan with a rocky relationship with her guardians and Marianne has only a mother and sisters. Sir John certainly is no obstacle. Fortunately for Willoughby, Elinor is too curious to turn him away.
Why is Willoughby’s behavior towards Elinor so aggressive? Is it that he thinks regardless of what he has done she owes him a hearing? I do not like the fact he felt comfortable forcing himself on Elinor’s notice. His stopping her from leaving the room is beyond excuse. What would have happened if she had still wished to leave? I am not at all convinced he would have let her leave. In my opinion he is absolutely in the wrong for visiting Cleveland in the first place. He is not a friend of the Palmers and he is not a friend of the Barton Dashwoods. He knew he would not be welcome yet the opportunity, it appears, had to be taken. If the Palmer’s return his access and opportunity to work on Elinor will vanish. I cannot envision Mr. Palmer letting him through the front door as I am sure Willoughby is aware. I think Willoughby knows just how wrong this visit is but felt entitled to crash Cleveland and force Elinor to hear his side of the story.
So, what do you think of Willoughby’s decision to visit Cleveland and his aggressive stance with Elinor? (;D)
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