I never expected to fall in love with Colonel Brandon when I began my study of Sense and Sensibility. He is, after all, way too old for Marianne. Setting aside this minor detail, though, Colonel Brandon becomes a great example of a romantic hero.
Through much of the story, he hovers in the background, doing what he can to keep Marianne happy. He brings her flowers, listens as she plays the pianoforte, remains attentive during the worst days of her depression, and, in the end, carries her through a rainstorm. He isn’t a stalker. He’s genuinely interested in her well-being and completely unselfish. He simply gives out of pure love, never expecting anything in return.
Elinor, in observing his obvious attraction to her sister, “saw it with concern; for what could a silent man of five-and-thirty hope, when opposed by a very lively one of five-and-twenty? and as she could not even wish him successful, she heartily wished him indifferent.” In contrast to the two other leading men in the book, Brandon makes no secret of his feelings for Marianne, nor does he make any secret of his past heartaches. His honesty and openness makes him seem more innocent than his “advanced age” of thirty-five would have us expect. Paradoxically, these traits also makes him seem more mature.
Willoughby states that, “Brandon is just the kind of man . . . whom everybody speaks well of, and nobody cares about; whom all are delighted to see, and nobody remembers to talk to.” Frankly, I like Brandon even better for this. I prefer a quiet man, who doesn’t have to show off to prove his worth.
But I think what I like best about Brandon is that he continues to love Marianne even when he feels no hope of ever winning her love. This is the kind of patient, enduring love that I find in all my favorite Jane Austen characters: Darcy, Anne Elliot, Captain Wentworth, and Mr. Knightley, but perhaps no one exemplifies this type of love more than Colonel Brandon.
What do you think? Are you a fan of Colonel Brandon?