Having just finished writing my adaptation of Sense & Sensibility (due for publication in 2016), I have a confession to make: I have a crush on Colonel Brandon.
There is something about his patience and quiet demeanor that is extremely romantic. Yes, yes, I can hear thousands of readers shaking their head and saying, “But Darcy…”
Trust me, Darcy comes in as a close second in my book. But Colonel Brandon takes the prize, however.
To begin with, he loved and lost while a young man. Rather than rebound or retaliate by speed dating just anyone, he quietly mourned the loss of the woman he loved and continued on with his life. He established himself as a gentleman, working his way up through the military ranks and, later, established himself as a gentleman. I’m all for people who climb the ladder of society based on their own merits and not just because it was given to them.
When I was a child, my father was adamant that I had to work for what I wanted in life. He hired me to work at his company when I was out of college and, despite having a college degree—something which many people at the company did not have—I was the lowest paid employee. Later, after I gained more experience, I left his company and began to springboard my way up different corporate ladders until I finally found my home in academia as a college professor and the director of faculty training at an eight-campus institution of higher education. And along the way, I earned two (and a half!) more degrees.
Achieving something on your own merit and from your own blood, sweat, tears, and stress is something to be proud of. Having worked with so many young people as they struggle to acquire an education, I have seen first hand the two types of people who are out there: those willing to work hard for their success and those that expect hand outs and lift ups from others.
Colonel Brandon was definitely the former.
But that’s not the only reason that I have a crush on him.
His patience in waiting for Marianne is admirable. Not many people are willing to sit by and patiently wait for their reward.
In today’s world, people seem to want (or expect) instant gratification without any sacrifice. I used to run a charity that helped people in inner cities and living in poverty in Appalachia. What always surprised me was that these people might not have food to put on the table but they seemed to always have money for a flat screen television and satellite dish. The kids might be starving but they had their Nickelodeon and ESPN channels.
When Brandon nurses Marianne back to health, he holds no resentment for her having passed over his previous interest and attempts to woo her. His affections for Marianne are so strong that, rather than be jealous that she had loved another man, he overlooks that and captures the prize by being steadfast and honorable, unlike his predecessor.
To me, that is the essence of romance.
There is so much that we can learn from reading and re-reading Jane Austen’s books. Timeless classics are timeless for a reason. In Sense & Sensibility, Colonel Brandon has a very important message for all of Austen’s readers, one that is good to remember from time to time, especially when things do not go the way that we always want (or as fast as we want!): The best things in life are the ones that we earn for ourselves, no matter how long it takes.
Question: What do YOU think is the essence of romance?
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