Sense and Sensibility Character Review: Colonel Brandon

*Warning: This post contains spoilers in regards to the narrative and characters from the novel Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. Read at your own risk if you have not read the book or seen any of the adaptations.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Sense and Sensibility to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

We all deal with grief and heartbreak in different ways. Some of us grieve and then move on with our lives. Others go about our business and try to not let the past get in the way of our present.  When the reader/audience meets Colonel Brandon in Sense and Sensibility, he introduced as the good friend of the cousin who is renting a small cottage on his property to the newly widowed Mrs. Dashwood and her daughters. He is all manners and amiability, holding his metaphorical cards to the chest.  Marianne Dashwood, Mrs. Dashwood’s 17-year-old daughter sees nothing but an old man who is boring and has resigned from life.

But Colonel Brandon is a different man from the readers initially meet. The younger son of wealthy landowner, in his youth, he was in love with Eliza, his father’s ward. She was equally in love with him and ready to run away with him, but they were discovered and stopped. Sent away by his father, Colonel Brandon learns that Eliza, who is an heiress was forced to marry his older brother. It was not a love match, to say the least.

A few years later, Colonel Brandon discovers that Eliza is now divorced from his older brother and is dying in a poorhouse. Forced to earn her bread by selling her body, Eliza has a young daughter. Though he cannot save Eliza, Colonel Brandon takes in Eliza’s daughter, raising her as his ward.

Though it is not immediately obvious to the reader (nor to Marianne, who only realizes who her heart belongs to at the end of the book), Colonel Brandon, though appearing to be outwardly boring, is very much the ideal life partner. He is loving, loyal, generous, considerate and the knight in shining armor that Marianne thinks she has in John Willoughby (who will be discussed in two weeks).

To sum it up: In creating Colonel Brandon, Jane Austen created a character who surprised the audience/reader. When a writer can surprise the audience and totally change the way the character or the narrative is looked at, then they have done their job. It is just a question of how to weave the surprise into the existing narrative and character arc.


Rick Springfield Opens Up About His Battles With Depression

Depression knows nothing of boundaries. It doesn’t matter where you grew up, where your family is from, who you go home to every night, etc. Not even fame and success in Hollywood can ward off the demons of depression.

Rick Springfield is one of the millions around the world who suffer from depression. The musician and actor recently opened about his own bouts with depression and his attempts to take his own life.

I found his story not only to be meaningful, but also relevant. One of the things I have learned about depression is that those of us who suffer from the disease tell the same story. We may use different phrasing and talk about our battles with depression from our own individual perspectives, but the stories are the same.

I find that very comforting because we need to talk openly about depression and other mental illnesses. Talking open and honestly opens doors, helps to diminish the stigma, brings comfort to those suffering and will hopefully prevent the loss of life due to suicide.


Throwback Thursday-That’s My Bush! (2001)

One of the hallmarks of a true democracy is the ability to openly satirize those in power without fear of persecution. From my perspective, political satire is the best way to relieve stress, especially when the stress comes from the halls of power.

In 2001, the creators of South Park decided to add another show to their satirical television empire: That’s My Bush!.  The show was a sitcom-y view (complete with a pre-recorded laugh track) of then President George W. Bush (Timothy Bottoms), his wife Laura Bush (Carrie Quinn Dolan), his Presidency and the staff who worked in the White House.

Though the show was on the air for only one season, it was incredibly funny. Unfortunately, it was one of those shows that was not given the time to gain an audience and last beyond the initial episodes that the network agreed to.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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