Or, Why I Don’t Like the S&S Heroes.
Every time I read or watch S&S, I’m struck with how little I like the heroes. I like most of the other characters, but S&S is definitely not as high on my “favorites” list as it could be if it had better heroes.
I know many of you like Colonel Brandon or Edward Ferrars, and I’m not going to lose my temper and start bashing them. I’m just going to state my reasons and arguments for disliking them. Who knows, maybe I’ll convert someone. ;)
I apologize for the total lack of pictures in this post. J
I’ll start with Edward Ferrars.
When the story begins, Edward has been secretly engaged four years to a girl named Lucy Steele. She’s pretty and clever, but she’s also uneducated and mean. Edward is getting tired of her and wishing he could end the engagement.
When he meets his half-sister-in-law (I’m not sure if that’s the correct usage of the half-sister of your sister’s husband, but whatever) Elinor Dashwood, he immediately falls in love. There’s the first problem I have with him. Why didn’t he leave? No matter how much he dislikes Lucy, it was his choice to propose to her and he should keep the engagement. Also, he IS engaged to Lucy. He should know that he’s raising hopes in Elinor and her family that can never be fulfilled.
There are several reasons why he wouldn’t have left the house when he realized either that his behavior was raising hopes or when he realized that he was in love. One is that he was just flirting with her because he was bored. I honestly don’t think he’s that type of character.
Another possible reason is that he just doesn’t have the self-control to deny himself anything. He IS the eldest son of a rich family, after all, and that usually means getting petted and spoiled.
Anyway, when the Dashwoods leave, he tries to keep away, but he can’t help himself. He passes by their new house on his way to London to join his family, and he stays there for a day. Why? Why not just get himself out of their lives?
When he gets to London, he presumably praises Elinor to the skies. This is a mistake- perhaps an honest one, perhaps not. He’s exposing Elinor to the hatred of his family, and she doesn’t even get the (doubtful) happiness of actually being engaged to him.
When Elinor and her sister Marianne Dashwood come to London for a visit, Lucy Steele tells Elinor (she probably could tell that Edward was in love, and she definitely heard rumors of Edward’s love) that she was engaged to Edward Ferrars. Elinor is deeply hurt, but she manages to forgive both and wish them happy.
(If you didn’t know before, Elinor is my favorite literary heroine.)
Edward knows, or should know (because if he doesn’t, he’s obviously even more of a day-dreamer than Anne in Anne of Green Gables)(no offense to Anne, it’s one of my favorite books) that there are rumors of his and Elinor’s engagement. Instead of standing up for her and telling his family that he’s not engaged to her, he just lets them insult her at every turn. Maybe he was thinking that Elinor was good cover for Lucy. You know, like when Frank Churchill made love to Emma to hide that he was engaged to Jane Fairfax in Emma.
But whatever his motive was, he was really wavering and inconstant. He loves her so much he can’t tear himself away from her, but he won’t stand up for her to his family or try to save her any discomfort.
One scene that I found particularly annoying in terms of Edward was the one where Edward comes to call on Elinor and finds Lucy sitting there as well.
First of all, why is he calling on Elinor? Maybe it’s a call of politeness, but I don’t think so. I’m not really sure, I guess, but really. You’d think that he could stop trying to gain Elinor’s love when it’s obviously not going to work out.
Second of all, when Lucy tells him that Elinor knows about their engagement, he won’t pay any special attention to Lucy anyway to show Elinor that it won’t work out. This would be sort of cruel, but at least it would end Elinor’s uncertainty.
Third, he doesn’t offer to walk home with Lucy. Maybe that’s just from a wish to hide their engagement. But whatever the reason, it was just common politeness, and he was rude.
Eventually, it slips out to the Ferrars family that Lucy is engaged to Edward. Lucy and her sister are driven out of the Ferrars’s house, where they’ve been staying. Edward just sits by and lets Lucy shift for herself. Seriously? I KNOW he doesn’t like her. I KNOW that she’s mean and sorta evil and personally I don’t like Lucy at all. But like I said before, it was his choice to begin the engagement and it’s his duty to act by it. And to let your betrothed just get turned out of the house? What could he hope to gain? You’d think he could have at least tried to find a house for her, and he’d lose nothing by defying his family anymore.
Then comes the point that all Edward- defenders point to: his family orders and begs him by turns to break off his engagement with Lucy, and he doesn’t. This is very admirable of him, but he also has some questionable motives. For one thing, he won’t be able to marry Elinor even if he does break off the engagement with Lucy, because his family wants him to marry a Miss Morton. Edward’s family then banishes him and gives Robert (Edward’s younger brother) Edward’s inheritance.
A little while after that, Lucy breaks off the engagement with Edward herself and gets engaged to Robert Ferrars instead. Lucy has a worse character than Edward’s, but I think they both treated each other badly. Just because Lucy was somewhat evil doesn’t mean that Edward is blameless.
Once he finds out he’s free, Edward makes a beeline to Elinor and proposes. She forgives him, which is yet another of the (many, many, many) reasons she’s my favorite heroine. He’s actually treated her pretty badly, in my opinion- even if that didn’t lower him in hers.
Edward eventually gets accepted back into the Ferrars family and introduces Elinor as his betrothed. Having already suffered one shock and wishing to have at least one son (Robert was banished for marrying Lucy), Mrs. Ferrars soon gives in and agrees to the marriage. She still doesn’t give Edward’s fortune back, though. Shame on her.
I think that’s enough to give my opinion on Edward. On to Colonel Brandon.
Colonel Brandon is brave, honorable, and true. He’s willing to sacrifice his own happiness for Marianne’s and he’s generous to those in need.
His character isn’t my problem.
My problem is that he doesn’t get enough “screen time.” I know he’s sort of a secondary hero, but he shows up about a quarter of the way through the book, runs away as fast as he can, shows up in the third quarter of the book and shines, and then gets out of there and comes back married.
I know he’s very virtuous and whatnot, but I only know it. I don’t see it. I can’t admire him, because he’s just words on a page. He doesn’t come alive for me, and he seems like a vague ghost, just floating in and out of the story as the plot dictates.
That’s pretty much the only reason I don’t like Colonel Brandon- because he doesn’t seem to exist in the way the other characters do. The other characters come alive for me and I can see them, hear them, imagine what they eat for breakfast.
Colonel Brandon doesn’t even get a first name.
So those are the reasons why I don’t like Colonel Brandon and Edward Ferrars.
Notes: As those of you who have been reading these “Notes” for the past week know, I’m watching TSP82 tonight and I’m. SO. EXCITED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I should have my Emma post done by the end of this year or next. No, I’m serious. ;)
Please let me know what you think and what topics you’re interested in in the comments below!
-Miss Jane Bennet