Tag Archives: John Willoughby

Sense And Sensibility Character Review: John Willoughby

*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.

For romantic love to last what will hopefully be a lifetime, it requires three key ingredients: commitment, compromise and the willingness to stand by your significant other through good times and bad. Unfortunately, some people are unwilling or unable to do what is stated above to make love last. John Willoughby is one of these people.

The reader is introduced to Mr. Willoughby in the most romantic way possible: he rescues one of the novel’s heroines, Marianne Dashwood. Marianne falls and twists her ankle during a rainstorm. He sweeps her off her feet, both literally and figuratively. The heir to a local estate, he is handsome, charming and outgoing. It look like Mr. Willoughby and Marianne are headed for wedded bliss, if only he would propose. Then he disappears without much of an explanation and it all goes south from there.

Like all of Austen’s male baddies, Mr. Willoughby is all charm with nothing beneath the charm. His smooth manners and easy conversations conceal a man whose motives are cold and selfish. He only cares for his own desires and does not care for the feelings of someone else.

To sum it up: Willoughby is a jerk, to say the least. However, the reader/audience member does not know that initially. That is the fun of reading and where the writer’s work truly begins. It’s like a magic act where the magician is telling the audience to look at their left hand, but the real trick is in their right hand.

A complete 180 switch for a character is never easy, especially when the audience/reader thinks that they have an idea of who this person is. The writer must create such a convincing character, that when this 180 switch occurs, it creates a ripple effect that completely changes the rest of the narrative and how this character is viewed. Without that complete convincing of knowing who this character is, the reveal will lose its power and the reader will not be compelled to continue with the story.

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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.

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Sense And Sensibility 1995 Vs Sense And Sensibility 2008

Sense and Sensibility was Jane Austen’s first published novel. Writing under the pseudonym of “a lady”, Sense and Sensibility is the story of two sisters, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood. When their father passes away, their elder brother inherits the family estate, Norland Park. Knowing that Norland Park is no longer their home, Elinor and Marianne, with their mother and younger sister Margaret are forced to find a new home and make a new life elsewhere.

As I did with the other novels, I’m going to compare and contrast the most recent adaptations.

1995

Cast: Elinor (Emma Thompson), Marianne (Kate Winslet), Colonel Brandon (Alan Rickman), Edward Ferrars (Hugh Grant) and John Willoughby (Greg Wise) .

  • Pro’s: Directed by Ang Lee, with a screenplay by Emma Thompson, the 1995 movie retains Austen’s voice as a writer.  It is a charming movie, for both the general movie fan and the ardent Janeite. Greg Wise looks awful good in breeches.
  • Cons: Let’s face it, as good as an actress and a screenwriter Emma Thompson is, she was far from 19 when this movie was made.  Elinor is still a teenager, regardless of the actress stepping into her shoes.

2008

Cast: Elinor (Hattie Morahan), Marianne (Charity Wakefield), Colonel Brandon (David Morrisey), Edward Ferrars (Dan Stevens)  and John Willoughby (Dominic Cooper).

  • Pro’s: With a screenplay written by Andrew Davies and the younger characters played by a whose who of  young British actors, this adaptation has a lot going for it. Davies fleshes out secondary story lines that that makes the primary story line vibrant and alive.  I also like is that the cast is age appropriate.
  • Con’s: None.

And the winner is….. I can’t decide.

 

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Jealous

*- These characters belong to Miss Austen. I am simply a humble admirer.

*-Based on the relationship between David Morrisey and Charity Wakefield in the 2008 Sense and Sensibility.

Jealous

It was a beautiful day as Marianne stepped into the garden to cut the flowers. The roses had begun to bloom into a pretty shade of blush.

As she finished her task, she could feel a set of male arms wrapping themselves around her.

Christopher had traveled to town for Navy business; he had left early yesterday morning and was expected to return in time for dinner tonight. He had proposed a holiday to Brighton next month, Marianne had promised to consider the idea while he was away.

“Darling you’re back early”

“Mhmm” came the response as he buried his face into her blonde curls.

“I think you are right, a holiday to Brighton would be a good thing. The children are eager for the sea, as am I. Perhaps mama could join us, she had been altered since Margaret married…”.

“Why don’t we leave your mother and the children at home, we can holiday just you and I?” Marianne knew then that the man behind her was not her husband.

“Willoughy!” Marianne exclaimed as Christopher raced toward her with two burly stable boys behind him. The stable boys held Willoughby back as Christopher fought to contain his anger.

“You, sir, will stay away from my wife and remove yourself from my land; otherwise I will set the law on you”.

“Are you hurt?” Christopher inquired, searching his wife for any injuries.

“No, I am uninjured”.

“Marianne, please, I love you, I’ve always loved you” Willoughby begged as he was dragged away.

Before he was forced back to where his horse was tethered, Marianne walked up to Willoughby, looking him straight in the eye.

“I am not the girl you once knew. You have made your choices and I have made mine. I suggest, sir that you forget about me and return to your wife. Good day, Mr. Willoughby”.

Though Willoughby had been forced out hours before, Christopher could not get the image of his wife and Mr. Willoughby out of his mind.

Mr. Willoughby and Marianne were of a similar age and temperament. Christopher was her second choice, she might still love him, a jealous voice inside of him reminded him.

“Darling, you were quiet during dinner. You mustn’t be jealous of Mr. Willoughby” Marianne sometimes thought back to those days, how blind she had been.

“He is handsome and charming….”.

Marianne put down her hair brush and settled herself comfortably on her husbands lap.

“Handsome and charming he may be, but Mr. Willoughby is also inconstant, thinking of his own desires before any one else’s. While you, my darling husband, are also handsome and charming, you are also constant, giving and one of the best man I know. You have made me a happy woman these past ten years and I wouldn’t have it any other way” She kissed him lightly on the lips, wishing to eradicate his anxieties for good.

They made love slowly that night, relishing their time together and forgetting the past.

The next morning, their children descended into the bedroom, eager to start a new day. Mr. Willoughby was no more.

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Regret

*- I do not own any of these characters. Please review

 Regret

 She was not hard to locate. She was smiling and laughing, her fiancé never far from her.

 John Willoughby was not a man to believe in regrets, the past was what it was, what is done cannot be undone.

 But he did have one regret, Marianne Dashwood. He did love her and if he could have gone back, he would be honest with her. Perhaps he might be the one standing next to her; it would be his engagement ring on her hand. But she was to marry Christopher Brandon within a month.

 Handing the glass to the waiter, Marianne kissed her fiancé on the cheek.

 “Do you want some company?” Chris asked.

 “No, I just need a moment by myself, it’s just a little warm in here, I will be back in a few minutes”.

 She was surprised to find outside the one person she thought she would never see again.

 “What are you doing here?”.

 “I uh… you look beautiful” was the only words that John could utter.

 “Where is your wife?” Marianne asked, John could feel the sting of her words. John had married Jessie because she was everything he was told he should have in a wife. And yet, she was everything he didn’t want in a wife.  She was cold, only wanting him for his name and money. Now he was stuck, his aunt threatening to cut him off if he left Jessie.

 “She went away with her girlfriends for the weekend”.

 “I don’t think you should be here, John…” she was stopped by her fiancé leaving the party to join her, who upon seeing John possessively placed his hand on Marianne’s shoulder.

 “Is he bothering you?” Chris asked.

 “No darling, he wasn’t bothering me, he was just leaving, weren’t you, John?” Marianne asked.

 “I do have to go. Congratulations to you both”.

 As he drove away, Chris asked “Do you still love him? If you do, I will let you go, free and clear”.

 “I thought I loved him once, but I don’t anymore. Please don’t think of him, I don’t. I only want to marry you”.

 She kissed him gently, as his arms wrapped around her, but they were interrupted by Elinor.

 “Is something going on out here? We were beginning to think you two had run off to Vegas”.

 “We’re fine” Chris replied as he followed his future wife and sister in law inside, not knowing that John was still close by watching them.

 John Willoughby was not a man who believed in regrets, but he was not a man who believed in love until he watched the one he loved, marry another. He was the cause of that.

 It was his one regret.

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