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|GR: The duel
Written by Barbara
(9/1/2003 3:54 p.m.)
This incident has provided much fuel for speculation, since Colonel Brandon is so circumspect about the whole thing. No doubt--NO doubt--he would not even have mentioned it had Elinor not asked whether he had seen Willoughby.
Duels were illegal in those times, and in order to fight the participants would have had to go to a quiet location, probably out of town. They certainly would not have been facing each other down in a public square, or anything of the kind. The fact that no one knew anything about this shows what kind of secrecy they would have had to maintain about it. Had any of the Jennings/Middletons/Palmers caught wind of it, you can be sure it would have been all over town by the next morning at the latest--although fortunately they were all back at Barton (or Cleveland) when it would have happened.
Also the fact that both Willoughby and Brandon were 'unwounded' in the duel suggests that it must have been fought with pistols. I can't imagine any way in which a sword duel could take place that would leave both men unwounded.
The duel was over the dishonourable treatment of Eliza and Brandon, as the father figure, was there 'to punish his conduct'--and avenge her honour, I guess-- while Willoughby defended himself. But what a mix of emotions there must have been there, especially for the colonel!
He was not only there in the role of a father, but he was also facing down his romantic rival, as it were. He might have, in one shot, made absolutely certain to keep Marianne free of Willoughby--but on the other hand having killed Willoughby would likely have turned Marianne's indifference toward him into hatred!
Duelling pistols were also not very accurate to shoot, but Brandon is both a soldier and lives in the country so is probably quite handy with a gun. It makes me wonder whether his main intention was to warn Willoughby and defend Eliza's honour with no intent to kill Willoughby.
Anyone else have speculations about the duel?
Here is a link to some pictures of duelling pistols. The second set is from about the right time, but they all give an idea of what they looked like.
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