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|Age Difference and Love
Written by Chandra
(9/19/2003 8:58 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, GR: Proper age for marriage, penned by Line
] I'm one of those who is always bothered afresh by the age difference between Marianne and Colonel Brandon (not to mention the age difference between a certain couple in "Emma"!), and by Marianne's extreme youth. No matter how wonderful Col. Brandon is, why is he, at 35, in love with a girl of 17?
It was completely common to have double digit age differences between partners in and around the Regency. If you look through old family trees, gravestones, and timelines, the differences in age varies from twelve to twenty five years, and the average age difference seems to be about nineteen years, making the Brandon's perfectly acceptable. No one would have batted an eye.
Also take in to account that what Marianne said was iffy when she said that Colonel Brandon was old enough to be her father. If they are eighteen years apart, then he would have to be married at seventeen or eighteen and for his wife to have a child very soon thereafter. (He was going to marry Eliza about this age, but I think "of age" ment twenty-one.)
The age difference never bothered me (and I am sixteen) because I know several very nice men in their late twenties to early thirties, whom I am friends with. (They are friends of my parents as well, so don't worry, I'm not getting into any trouble.) My point is, I could easily see myself or one of my friends my age marrying these people in the future, (not anytime soon, of course!) because they are so nice, and not at all old or boring. In fact, just a few months ago, a friend of mine attended a wedding where the bride and groom were eighteen years apart (and she was in her early twenties) so it still happens today.
] On the other hand, I think it's perfectly reasonable of her not even to consider Col. Brandon as a potential partner for *herself* - why should a teenage girl be interested in a man twice her age?
It is perfectly reasonable because she is so immature when we first meet her. She thinks flashing eyes and the ability to dance all night will pay the bills and care for the children. She also thinks that no one can feel a thing past twenty-seven, and upon hitting thirty five, you are headed for the sick-chamber. (Which is also very foolish, average people could live to be about 73 then.) She just was not ready to see the Colonel for what he was. Besides, if they are happy, who is to say the age difference is too great? I am not one for thirty year differences, but since it wasn't uncommon, and they loved each other, I can accept it and be happy, too.
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