Marianne’s growth continues…
Marianne’s ideas of love are quite childish in their intensity and devotion. Even though the destruction of many of those ideals is necessary for survival in an adult world, their loss is saddening.
It’s like when a child discovers that the things of childhood which held his/her unquestioning faith are not real – there is something tragic in the moment that a child learns the truth behind Santa, and invariably, the adults around him suffer along with him.
Colonel Brandon does a beautiful job discussing this when he and Elinor are speculating about Marianne’s absolute denial of the worth of a “second attachment.” Colonel Brandon says, ” There is something so amiable in the prejudices of a young mind, that one is sorry to see them give way to the reception of more general opinions.”
This really spoke to me because as we grow, we are forced out of the ideas that we held as absolutely sacred. Youth perpetrates phrases like “Well, I would never do ___________” and “I will always make sure I _________________.” Trust me when I say that everyone lives to eat their own words, and Marianne is no exception.
Marianne acquires her first adult dose of humility when Willoughby turns out to be other than what she believed. All of her self-assured talk comes to mean very little in the face of her disappointment. Her heartbreak is tangible to the reader, and I found myself truly feeling sorry for her as the tragedy unfolded (although, I did see it coming) . My adulthood has taught me the same hard lesson that Marianne learns – if it seems too good to be true, it is. This is one of the hardest lessons of growing up because once a person learns this nearly universal truth, it isn’t a very far leap to cynicism. I’m interested to see how Marianne responds to Willoughby’s betrayal. Will she “take her lumps” and be better for the wisdom and perspective gained or will she take the other route and become cynical and bitter? We all know people who followed one path or the other; however, knowing what I do about Austen so far, I can’t imagine anything other than the perfect “happily ever after” ending for Marianne. I know it’s what I’m hoping for anyway. 😉 (I am a little concerned, though, because I don’t see a “family member” suitable for Marianne – I’m interested to see how that works itself out).
One more thing that I would like to point out is that, once again, the city seems to be “bad news.” Everything about London has potential for disaster. The Misses Steele are from London and bring with them all sorts of problems and miseries for the Misses Dashwood, particularly Elinor with the news of Edward’s unfortunate engagement to Lucy Steele. I haven’t made it all the way through Elinore and Marianne’s visit with the wonderfully oblivious Mrs. Jennings, about whom my opinions may be changing.
I’m really seeing her in a little better light. At first, I thought she was a mindless gossip with cruel intentions towards those about whom she spread rumors, lies, and assumptions. However, I am beginning to see her a little differently. Her reactions to Willoughby’s betrayal have earned her a little favor in my eyes. She has been very respectful of Marianne’s heartache in not mentioning it directly in her presence, the effort of which must have been extreme for such a committed old gossip. I also like her loyalty to Marianne and her willingness to cut Willoughby whenever she gets the opportunity – the threat of which hardly amounts to much, but its the thought that counts.