Quick Index Board Index Home FAQ Site Map
|GR: Brandon's brother
Written by Barbara
(9/2/2003 1:40 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, GR: To tell or not to tell, penned by Mary Anne
] I'd always thought there were several ways to read it. One would be that he abused Eliza; another would be infidelity--i.e., seeking his pleasures elsewhere than in Eliza's bed.
I think there is a hint of both these implications in what Colonel Brandon says. He speaks of the misery of Eliza's situation and the great unkindness she experienced and also that his brother 'provoked inconstancy' by his own behaviour.
The colonel, as always, is phrasing this very delicately, but I have been trying to piece it together, like a puzzle from other hints about the type of behaviour Colonel Brandon disapproves.
A bit later in the conversation, Brandon refers to Willoughby's behaviour as "expensive, dissipated, and worse than both." To me it seems as though he's indirectly likening Willoughby's treatment of women with his own brother's, particularly when he talks about how no man who *can* feel could treat a woman in such a way. We're meant to see parallels in the situations.
Early in the story, we learned that Willoughby likes to do things like stay out all night dancing, ride and hunt, give away an expensive horse to a girl he's trying to impress, etc. In the chapter before Brandon's confession, Mrs. Jennings comes back with the gossip that Willoughby is "all to pieces. No wonder! dashing about with his curricle and hunters!" He's been spending money he doesn't have on things he can't afford. He's also been amusing himself with women towards whom he apparently had no serious intentions.
It's not much of a stretch to suppose that these might be the same types of 'pleasures' that are not 'what they ought to have been'. Brandon's brother, too, after using his wife's money to get Delaford out of debt, nevertheless went through all her fortune and more because he left the state 'sadly involved'. I'm picturing a man who spends lavishly on horses, possibly gambling or cards, other women, etc. Brandon found a former servant of his in the spunging house for debt--had his brother been obliged to turn family servants away because of mounting expenses to pay for his 'pleasures'?
And, we also know that the brother died relatively young. We don't know the age difference between them, but he died when the colonel was 30, so perhaps the brother was only in his 30s to early 40s and his 'pleasures' had destroyed his health on top of everything else.
If anyone is interested in taking this up at *Austenuations*, it might make an interesting comparison to the two Bertram brothers at Mansfield Park...
Sense & Sensibility is maintained by Barbara with WebBBS 3.21.