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|GR Pure speculation...
Written by Barbara
(9/18/2003 1:57 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, GR: Avoiding humiliation?, penned by B. Michelle
] Perhaps she did not wish to suffer any humiliation? Sophia may not have known (and indeed,probably did not) of Willoughby's amours before she accepted him. To break off the engagment would mean to admit that she had been taken in by a complete rascal.
I've often been intrigued with why Sophia--one of the wealthiest heiresses in London--would want Willougbhy when she could presumably have anyone.
There are two obvious considerations: first, that he has an estate and the expectation of another, and an heiress would need to marry a man with property of some kind if she had none. Second, so much is made of Willoughby's physcial attractiveness. It seemed that it, plus his charm, was at a level that could quite blind women and make them take leave of their senses.
But, I've never thought that would be enough to secure such a wealthy woman, and I always wondered at Willoughby's comment that "I had reason to believe myself secure of my present wife, if I chose to address her..." He was secure enough of a woman with 50,000 pounds to leave her and take off for the country for a couple of months, even though he hadn't proposed to her yet. Why?
We also know that Willoughby admits that attracting women and making them attached to him for his own amusement were 'feelings which he had always been too much in the habit of indulging'. We have learned how he indulged that particular habit with Eliza Williams and Willoughby also admits himself to be a 'libertine'.
My speculation is this: I think it is not unreasonable to assume that perhaps Willoughby's prior relationship with Sophia had progressed in a similar manner to his typical M.O.--he turned on the charm and used every means in his power to make himself pleasing to her. Maybe it even went farther than that, so that Sophia was sure to accept him if he 'chose' to address her--because maybe her relationship with Willougbhy had put her in a position where she wouldn't really be able to accept anyone else?
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