Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Sense & Sensibility, Volume III, chapter 8 (ch 44)

Willoughby turns up to unburden himself to Elinor.

This is another of those chapters where Austen doesn't do all that much in order to rewrite this chapter from an epistolary form to a regular novel - I think it's pretty plain with Willoughby's barely interrupted monologue that this was likely originally a letter sent from Willoughby to Elinor, but recast as a face-to-face conversation. Still, even with recasting it as a one-on-one conversation rather than a reading by Elinor with an occasional thought or reaction, I think the characters' discomfort in participating in such a conversation resonates more with the reader, which at least partially explains the justification for moving away from an epistolary format.

Willoughby: I came because I heard Marianne was dying. The servant assures me she's improving, however. Is it true? Is she improving?

Elinor: Yes, but it is SO NOT YOUR PLACE to be here asking questions.

Willoughby: Oh what a rogue and peasant slave am I!

Elinor: (in a repressive tone) You are no Prince Hamlet, Mr. Willoughby. Cut the crap.

Willoughby: I am a victim I tell you! Mrs. Smith was sooooo mean to me, cutting off my inheritance all because I seduced and knocked up a young woman and then refused to marry her.

Elinor: O_o

Willoughby: And THEN I had to go to town and mary that cow, Miss Grey, for whom I don't care sixpence. Not that she loves me, either. She wanted my land, I wanted her money, bada bing, bada boom. Solved my financial problems. But my heart, my heart, my heart has its love. fn1

Elinor: Good God. Are you quoting Heine? How very . . . anachronistic of you. He didn't start writing poetry until years after this novel was published. I insist that you stop it immediately.

Willoughby: Fine. But I still love Marianne and He Who Shall Not Be Named *coughBrandoncough* is a poopypants and I just know she's going to marry him. Willoughby OUT! *flounces off*

Elinor: O_o

fn1 "But my heart, my heart,/My heart has its love" are lines from "The Sea Has Its Pearls", which I translated for National Poetry Month 2009.

You can watch how they played this scene in the 2008 version for the BBC/PBS between the 11 and 14 minute marks. Be sure to stop at 14 minutes if you don't want to see Colonel Brandon & Mrs Dashwood's arrival, etc., since it's also on this segment:

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