Colonel Brandon

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Colonel Brandon
Gender Male
Age 36
Income £ 2,000 pa
Education Unknown
Primary residence Delaford
Family
Romantic interest(s) 1) Eliza Brandon (deceased) 2 ) Marianne Dashwood
Parents Deceased
Sibling(s) Elder brother (deceased); Sister (in Avignon)

Colonel Brandon is a fictional character in Jane Austen's novel Sense and Sensibility. A quiet and reserved man, he forms an attachment to the younger of the Dashwood sisters, Marianne.

Background[edit]

The younger son of a landed family in Dorsetshire, Brandon made a career in the army, until at the death of his brother he inherited Delaford. We are told that at that point the estate was encumbered, but no less a market-minded man than John Dashwood informs us that at the time of the book's action they had all been resolved: “His property here, his place, his house, - everything in such respectable and excellent condition!”.[1]

Character[edit]

In terms of activities and life experience, Colonel Brandon is perhaps the most Byronic among Austen's leading men.[2] He attempts to elope with his teenage cousin Eliza for whom he has a passionate attachment; he has the mortification of seeing her married for mercenary reasons to his elder brother; he serves his country abroad and returns to rescue the dying Eliza from a debtors' prison; he raises her illegitimate daughter, only to have to fight a duel with her seducer; and he forms a second, passionate attachment to another vibrant seventeen-year-old girl, Marianne.[3] His very name links him to the rake in Richardson's Pamela – Mr B. of Brandon Hall – and his experiences are in many ways a benign retelling (rescuer, not seducer) of the latter's life.[4]

In social life and in courtship, the Colonel may be considered an uninteresting character. Unlike the traditional romantic suitor, the Colonel is melancholy, taciturn, he cancels expeditions, intrude at inconvenient moments, speaks only to Elinor and not to Marianne.[5] He is set up in opposition to John Willoughby – the latter having all the romantic trappings and discourse, marries for money, while outwardly dull Colonel marries for love.[6] Despite this, critical dissatisfaction with the starkness of the typology, and with the book's outcome, is pervasive.[7] The Colonel seems to lack appeal to the modern reader, making his eventual success in wooing seem unlikely.[8] For a figure closer to Jane Austen's time like Henry Austin Dobson, however, the marriage was a mark of her realism: “Every one does not get a Bingley or a Darcy (with a park); but...not a few enthusiasts like Marianne decline at last upon middle-aged colonels with flannel waistcoats”.[9]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility (London 1932) p. 61 and p. 337
  2. ^ R. Jenkyns, A Fine Brush of Ivory (Oxford 2007) p. 188
  3. ^ R. Jenkyns, A Fine Brush of ivory (Oxford 2007) p. 188
  4. ^ J. Harris, Jane Austen's Art of Memory (2003) p. 37 and 49
  5. ^ G. B. Stern Talking of Jane Austen (London 1946) p. 139-144
  6. ^ E. Auerbach, Searching for Jane Austen (2004) p. 113
  7. ^ R. Jenkyns, A Fine Brush of Ivory (Oxford 2007) p. 191-2
  8. ^ G. B. Stern Talking of Jane Austen (London 1946) p. 144-5
  9. ^ A. Dobson, 'Introduction', Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility (London 1932 [1895]) p. xii

Further reading[edit]

  • E. Godfrey, The January–May Marriage in Nineteenth-Century British Fiction (2009)