Who: Colonel Brandon
From: Sense and Sensibility
By: Jane Austen
Pros: Kind, considerate, thoughtful, decent, patient, gentle, faithful, honorable, sensitive, generous, caring… and , oh, yeah, RICH.
Although reserved and not passionate, he has a very good heart and helps out those in distress. His charitable behavior toward Eliza Williams and Edward Ferrars makes him the unnoticed knight in shining armor. [Book Rags.com]
Cons: Unromantic (on the surface at least), dull, remote, joyless, grave. He appears stern and dour. especially when compared to Willoughby.
Most Shining Moment: Traveling from Cleveland to Barton Cottage overnight to fetch Mrs. Dashwood to Marianne’s sick-bed.
Not a moment was lost in delay of any kind. The horses arrived, even before they were expected, and Colonel Brandon only pressing her hand with a look of solemnity, and a few words spoken too low to reach her ear, hurried into the carriage. It was then about twelve o’clock, and she returned to her sister’s apartment to wait for the arrival of the apothecary, and to watch by her the rest of the night. [Sense and Sensibility, Chapter 43]
Least Shining Moment: [I love Brandon, don’t get me wrong. I don’t know that there is a bigger Brandon fan out there than yours truly. BUT … ] Marianne (rightly) thinks Brandon too old for her. His attraction to her is largely based on a decades old attraction to another woman, Eliza Williams*, to whom he was separated from when he was shipped off to the Army. Essentially he is in love with a ghost from his past. I know we live a different times but… crushing on some one who is nearly 20 years your junior because they remind you of lost love is a bit creepy, isn’t it? .
It is as good for him as it is for Marianne that it takes them the entire novel to get together. He’s a very patient man. And in the time it takes for her to realize that he is actually a wonderful guy, he has learned to appreciate her for who she really is (and not just as a substitute for his long-lost Eliza.) I think at the end of the novel Brandon really does love Marianne for herself. Perhaps that is the sweetest journey of all in the book.
He has clearly already had his heart-broken, and the romantic Marianne believes that everyone is fated to only love once; she prefers the young, handsome, and spontaneous Willoughby, who eventually jilts her. Proving that patience is a virtue, Brandon remains on the perimeter until Marianne gets over being jilted. Brandon’s character and temperament conform to Austen’s and Elinor’s idea of sense rather than sensibility. [Book Rags.com]
Alan Rickman played as Colonel Brandon in the 1995 movie directed by Ang Lee, from a screenplay by Emma Thompson. It was “the first cinematic Jane Austen adaptation in 50 years” [IMDb Sense and Sensibility] I love the movie. Like most Austen adaptions it swings wildly away from the book at times, but, still, Ahhhhh… it is a delight. And Rickman’s pitch perfect Brandon is certainly a big part of why I’m so fond of the film. He’s soooo somber, and the poor guy never seems to get his timing right. He’s always walking in just as Marianne is expecting the more pleasant company of Willoughby.The comparison between the two men (sensible Brandon and sensual Willoughby) is a secondary theme in the book (it echos the dichotomy of the sisters’ relationship) but the movie gives it a wonderful treatment with almost identical scenes of the male character carrying Marianne to safety through the rain. Willoughby does so almost effortlessly towards the beginning of the movie. He puts her down on her mother’s couch as if she is light as a feather. The episode hardly cost him any effort and Marianne is instantly besotted with him. For Brandon it is a different story. He falls to his knees when he makes to the main hall at Cleveland. He’s spent every ounce of his energy in the task of finding and rescuing Marianne. But, as she is lifted out of his arms, she is too ill to notice, much less thank him. … SIGH… for those of us who like a tablespoon of unrequited love in our fiction it is a lovely scene.
*BTW: The Brandon and Eliza back story would make such a lovely historically based novel. Some one get on that please.