Melodrama , thoughts on the confession and the effect on Elinor
Posted by Barbara on August 23, 1998 at 13:34:11:
In response to Willoughby's Confession, written by Barry on August 22, 1998 at 22:03:20
] I am currently reading S&S, and have just read the chapter where Willoughby comes to Cleveland and surprises Elinor with his dramatic confession. I found the scene, replete with the rainy night, to be slightly out of place and implausibly melodramatic, especially for an Austen novel (almost the kind of scene she would have satirized in NA). I cannot think of another scene where this kind of recantation/confession takes place, especially by a villain (compare to Wickham, who never seems to even regret let alone recant). I am also surprised that it continues to have such a lasting positive effect on Elinor, since the facts he relates do not change the fact that Willoughby has behaved terribly in at least two cases (Marianne and Eliza) to Elinor's knowledge. I apologize if this subject has recently been addressed, but I am curious if others share my reaction here.
I am not sure that I would call it melodramatic, but it is certainly unique in Austen, and it continues to be perplexing as well as the subject of much discussion. I mentioned in some other post a while back that poor Elinor has to listen to not one but TWO confessions in the novel, as she has also heard Brandon's which is just as shocking and dramatic in its own way. JA never again wrote a scene where such revelations were made face to face.
I've been having two different thoughts on this confession scene. First, the effect on Elinor. One of the themes of the novel is, I suppose, that sense must be tempered by sensibilitiy and vice versa. Marianne learns some sense and Elinor learns to appreciate her sister's sensibility somewhat. I wonder if the confession scene could be, in part, to show how Elinor's thinking had come around by this point in the novel. The whole thing about wishing for a moment that Willoughby were a widower so he could marry Marianne--is this not showing a lot of sensibility?? Would the Elinor at the start of the novel have reacted in the same way, or is she only capable of this reaction now, at the end of the novel, because of all she had been through. At this point she thinks that Edward is irrevocably lost to her, but I always wonder if Elinor thought somewhere, in the back of her mind, if she had been more demonstrative towards him that it might have made a difference?
Another thought I had is that this novel is about balance. The symbol of a see-saw is frequently used in the old BBC dramatization of SS1. Things that happen in the story seem to have a counter balance. I wonder if this whole confession scene is to balance the scene we have had earlier with Brandon. Even the motivations for the two confessions are opposite: Brandon's motive is entirely (or almost entirely) unselfish, in the wish to ease Marianne's suffering, and in some ways he realizes that the confession casts an unfavourable light on himself. Willoughby, on the other hand, wants the Dashwoods to think better of him, does not adequately demonstrate remorse for what he did to Eliza Jr., and while he may profess to care for Marianne, can he really imagine it would make her feel better to know "I loved you, but I married someone else anyhow"? His motives seem selfish to me.
WHEW! Thoughts, anyone?
- Willoughby's Confession Barry 23:17:15 8/25/98 (0)
- More thoughts Cassandra 18:48:09 8/24/98 (3)
- Thoughts (Warning--long) Mary Anne 20:26:13 8/23/98 (9)
- Will. being sensible Lindsay 10:13:17 8/24/98 (8)
- Why couldn't he just ask? Kathleen Ann 10:56:22 8/27/98 (0)
- The better man? Barbara 13:12:07 8/24/98 (6)
- Could Marianne have resisted Seduction? Barry 23:45:44 8/25/98 (4)
- E. not so sensible? Lindsay 08:40:41 8/25/98 (0)
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