For the Love of Colonel Brandon

For the Love of Colonel Brandon

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[Author’s note: I had no idea when I wrote and scheduled this blog post that Alan Rickman would pass away the day before it published. I chose the pictures of him weeks in advance because I love the humble and sensitive way he portrayed Col. Brandon. He did an outstanding job in the role.]

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?

33 Responses to For the Love of Colonel Brandon

  1. No matter how many movies they make of S&S no actor will top Alan Rickman’s portrayal of Colonel Brandon. He was such a consummate actor that he could say volumes with just a look and then, when he did speak…that voice. I fell in love with him from the get go. As soon as he walked into frame…I was lost. I was so saddened when he passed.

    As mentioned in previous posts, I loved him in Robin Hood; I adored him as the Colonel, and I wept bitter tears during his death scene in Harry Potter. When it showed the flashback of him holding Harry’s mother Lily Potter in his arms…his grief over her death…I lost it.

    I always pulled for the Colonel. I wanted him to get his ‘heart’s desire.’ Alan Rickman, although you will be missed, Colonel Brandon lives on in our memories of your performance and he lives on in the pages of S&S forever…as long as there are fans, we will remember.

    I am so glad you were working on this blog for Colonel Brandon. I know it sort of became a tribute to Alan Rickman…it just feels right and so appreciated. We all loved him. Thanks for doing this.

  2. Brandon’s honesty and openness, his genuine display of his feelings, and his true appreciation of literature and music are among the many qualities that make him the perfect man for Marianne, regardless of their age difference. When she described the sort of man she had in mind as one she could truly love, he is really the one who fit all the criteria apart from the extreme good looks of Willoughby. And he showed his true self to her, unlike Willoughby who was mostly putting on an act. Just like Marianne, Brandon knew what it was like to have loved and lost the one whom he believed to be his one and only. I always get the impression that after Eliza, Brandon believed, like Marianne did, that if that one love did not work out, then your chances at love were over–until he met Marianne and realized he was wrong. Alan Rickman was the perfect embodiment of all of that. In the screenplay diary for S&S, Emma Thompson wrote that Rickman saw Brandon as a man who had been frozen all those years (since he lost Eliza) and was experiencing the pain of finally thawing out as he fell in love with Marianne. Rickman was able to convey this with the subtlest glance or by grasping the back of a chair.

    • Interesting you should mention “grasping the back of a chair”. When I revisited that scene last week (many times), I kept watching Alan Rickman’s hands – they were so expressive. He managed to convey so much emotion with his body, not just his words. Oh, I miss him and now I need to watch it again……….

  3. The first time I saw Sense and Sensibility, I fell in love with Colonel Brandon, as portrayed by Alan Rickman. As Brenda said, I loved his portrayal as the Sherrif of Nottingham in Robin Hood.

  4. Everything has been said already, but I wanted to add that Alan Rickman’s portrayal of Colonel Brandon made me fall in love with him. I suppose because I was not a young girl like Marianne the first time I saw the film, and his age and appearance made him the perfect hero in my eyes. I loved that he also had so many facets. He was hilarious in Robin Hood, as well as being a believable villain in Die Hard. There shall not be another like him.

  5. I had read S&S twice before seeing the movie, not having thought too much about Colonel Brandon. But after seeing the film with Alan Rickman, it was clear that this was exactly who the Colonel should be. He was mature, kind, generous and somewhat world weary. His intentions were always above reproach – he was a gentleman, after all. It was a romance that began slowly and tentatively, with patience on his side and curiosity on hers. He was absolutely the right actor for this role – I shall never waver from that, and I shall make a point to rewatch as often as I can.

    Alan Rickman was a man, not a god or an adonis – just a man. But a man of extraordinary grace, wit and charm. A kind man, a comforting man. Of course, he had that killer voice – so incredible to hear him speak, recite, charm. Thank goodness we’ll still have that voice to listen to – always.

  6. I think Alan Rickman’s portrayal enphasised for me how lovely a man Colonel Brandon is. I first saw him in “Truly, Madly, Deeply” and feel in love with his acting then. I will miss his acting, but am thankful thst many of his portrayals are available to watch.

  7. I always liked Col Brandon, but when I’d say this, people would assume it was because of Alan Rickman (though my preference preceded the S&S movie). That said, Alan Rickman was marvelous in S&S and in everything else. A lovely man and a wonderful actor!

    • Thanks for commenting, Beatrice. S&S is one of the rare movies I saw without first reading the book, so I’m not sure I can separate the two. But I must say that I loved Colonel Brandon much more after I read the book.

  8. Darcy may be my favorite (precisely because of his flaws and that he was man enough to change) but Col. Brandon and Mr. Knightley round out my cast of Austen “manly men”. Alan Rickman was a fabulous Brandon, and I will always love Ang Lee’s version of the story (honestly, in my opinion, it’s the best of the Austen movie versions). I don’t have a problem with the age difference between him and Marianne; in my own family we have a few marriages with 18 year gaps and they’ve been very happy ones!

  9. I think that he was perfectly cast as Brandon – his love for Marianne was so gentle, so unconditional and so pure that I fell in love with him first in Sense and Sensibility and than came to love him other roles after. He is by far my favorite Colonel Brandon of all the adaptations – he defined the role for all future comers. He will certainly be missed.

    • True, Diana. I honestly did not come to recognize Alan Rickman until all the Harry Potter movies came out. Then I realized, “Hey, that’s the same guy that plays Snape.” Back when the movie came out, Hugh Grant was a bigger name for me.

  10. I do agree. Colonel Brandon is the truest of the Austen men. I loved him in the book, Rickman did an amazing job with his betrayal, and I have to say I’ve been half in love with him since. So sad to lose him!

    • Thanks for commenting, Jill. I saw the movie with Alan Rickman in it before I ever read the book, but I must admit that I didn’t like Colonel Brandon as much until I read the book. It probably also helped that I was a little older when I read the book. 😉

  11. Yes, Colonel Brandon is the true romantic, as Marianne says at one point in the one movie version. And Alan Rickman played that part perfectly. I saw him in Die Hard, Harry Potter and the S&S movies. Colonel Brandon has so much honor and loyalty in the story. And he doesn’t look to brag about it. He just quietly does the right and best thing. So glad he won the hand of his lady in the end.

    • Thanks for commenting, Sheila. I feel like Colonel Brandon is so overlooked in the story. Eduard is the one who gets the most attention. I don’t feel that he deserves it, though. Colonel Brandon definitely proves himself the better man.

    • I will certainly miss him. I didn’t mention it here, but another of my favorite roles of his was in “Galaxy Quest.” No one ever mentions that movie, but he is hilarious in it. (It’s a parody of Star Trek.)

  12. Mr. Knightley and Col. Brandon are my favorites. Though I love Darcy, his pride at the beginning, deserved or not, would have made me crazy. I love the constant companionship and relationships of Knightley and Brandon. I would have wanted to know them, to have them in my life and to spend time with them whereas I would have just wanted to look at Darcy from across the room. I was very saddened when I was Alan Rickman had passed. He will always be Col. Brandon to me (and Jeremy Northam will always be Knightley).

    • Yes, Stephanie. I would have been intimidated by Darcy too. I love that Colonel Brandon was a good guy from the beginning, just judged for his age. And Jeremy Northam is my favorite Knightley too. I love his facial expressions.

  13. Rebecca, what a perfect post. I too love Colonel Brandon and in my mind I like to think that he and Marianne were blissfully happy. Darn, too bad we lost one of our favorite colonels and actors with Rickman’s passing. Thanks, Jen

  14. Alan Rickman’s Col. Brandon is my all time favorite Austen hero! I’ve been saying this for years among all the Colin Firth fans. ?

  15. I do like Col. Brandon and thought Rickman perfect in the role. I have no trouble with the age difference. Marianne needs a steady, mature, loving man who will continue to love her when she is ill, when she has morning sickness , or just not feeling or looking up to par. Willoughby will have been off with a mistress or casual affairs when his wife is pregnant.
    I don’t go to many movies so haven’t seen Rickman in other roles though he looks good in the Harry Potter film shots I have seen.

    • Good point! Willoughby would have been terrible with morning sickness. Lol. Honestly, Rickman’s portrayal of Snape made me dislike him in the first few Harry Potter movies. He was greasy and hateful. In the later movies, though, we all grew to love him. Rickman was great at playing unlikable people and making them likable.

  16. Wasn’t a hugh fan of Col Brandon until I saw Alan Rickman play the part. He was awesome and made you fall in love with him just as Marianne was, when she finally saw the man he is.

  17. I totally agree with you on this. How Marianne could prefer Willoughby is beyond me. I am so glad that he got her in the end. I’m only sorry that we won’t get to see Alan Rickman in any future roles as he was a truly great actor.

    • Yes, Glynis. I agree, but I have seen so many women fall for looks and charm while ignoring other more important factors. It’s very realistic, and many women are not as lucky as Marianne, who figured it out soon enough to pick the right man.

Your thoughts are precious!