Why Colonel Brandon is my Mr. Darcy…

Why Colonel Brandon is my Mr. Darcy…

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.

Sigh. 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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23 Responses to Why Colonel Brandon is my Mr. Darcy…

  1. Col. Brandon is my favorite Austen hero for many of the reasons you explain. Quiet, patient, self-reliant, vulnerable yet strong, passionate yet self-controlled. He was always doing good — doing whatever he felt was of benefit to others. Self-sacrificing. He had no way of knowing he would get his reward, and yet he kept on doing what he could for the one he loved. True and undying integrity and devotion. And such tenderness from a man! Sigh.
    He is second only to Gaskell’s Mr Thornton on my short list of romantic literary heroes.

  2. I, too, thought the whole Eliza thing a bit creepy. Steadfast? I thought him a bit more obsessed, stalker-like. Fallen Eliza 2 was taken care of because she was Fallen Eliza 1’s daughter, and again, going after a third young woman who has made a fool of herself before society chasing after a man, ruining her reputation. He seems to have a thing for fallen/ruined women. Maybe a savior complex here? Obviously, I am not a fan of S & S at all (don’t get me started on Edward Ferrars) but it hit too many discordant notes with me when considering motives in the story.

  3. Austen had a true gift in writing heroes who are so very different, yet all equally wonderful. Colonel Brandon is in my top favs too, although it is really tough to choose! Darcy is #1, of course, but Wentworth and Brandon tie, I think. But then there is Henry Tilney….. and Knightley…. and…. oh dear!

  4. Darcy will always be my favorite (my DH is so much like him….so yes I am biased), but I do like Brandon….patient and exceedingly loyal. A brooding leading man with few, if any vices. A very good message indeed, the best things in life are not granted instantaneously, they have to be earned and waited for. Thank you for this wonderful post about Col. Brandon.

  5. I love that not only was Col. Brandon a man who lost but didn’t turn to depression or booze or womanizing but also then took care of his love’s daughter. And he was not aggressive in telling Elinor or Marianne what he knew about Willoughby from the get-go. I also like that Darcy not only changed his character and behavior due to Elizabeth’s rant but also that he took care of the Lydia debacle without wanting Elizabeth to know about it b/c he didn’t want her gratitude. Mr. Knightley and Emma had no secrets – their personalities were open so no changes were made…although I do hope he got her to attack her reading list most earnestly. Emma did care for the people around her and would be a good mistress to the estate, visiting the tenants and sending baskets, etc.

    • Ha ha!!!!! Attack her reading list! So very true!

      Brandon was the complete opposite of Willoughby in every sense of the word…down to the part of Willoughby abandoning his own baby (and young lover). And Brandon took care of Willoughby by deconstructing him after the fact (i.e. the “appointment”). In dueling with Willoughby, Brandon defended the wrongs of the victims (selfless) while Willoughby defended himself (selfish). Of course, being called out, Willoughby had no choice but to respond. And, to your point, Brandon did not act aggressively and shoot him (presuming they used pistols and not swords). Instead, he merely wounded the scoundrel’s ego.

      Brandon’s discretion in the meeting just confirms how much of a gentleman he is.

  6. I love Colonel Brandon, too! He’s really underappreciated, maybe because he’s so much older than Marianne, it puts some people off? I love that he appreciates her vivacity and passion and doesn’t try to change her, or hurry her to grow out of it. He’s just there being himself, not really expecting anything, showing her through his actions that a real man is steadfast and selfless.

    • That’s interesting, Monica (and sorry for not replying earlier…doctors visits and a surgery kept me away). What put off Marianne in the beginning (age) is what won her over in the end (age=maturity=steadfast and selfless…in his case). And, let’s not forget, she transformed from being vivacious, passionate, and selfish into steadfast and selfless herself. How could she appreciate the latter if she hadn’t learned such hard lessons from falling for a man that mirrored the very same characteristics as the former?

  7. The thing that I have always loved about Colonel Brandon is his selflessness. He loved Marianne deeply but was more concerned with her happiness than his own. In his conversation with Elinor when he believes that Willoughby is engaged to Marianne, he says “to your sister I wish all imaginable happiness; to Willoughby that he may endeavour to deserve her.” His own unhappiness was evident to Elinor, yet Brandon expressed nothing of that. He is a man who faithfully serves those he loves, with no expectation of reciprocation or even gratitude. I agree that in his own way, he’s every bit as wonderful a hero as Darcy.

    • Diana, that is one of my favorite sentences in the book! What a pleasant way to express his displeasure in Willoughby. I sooooo wish we talked like this today. So elegant and intellectual. Alas, I fear if we did, many of the people we talked to would not take the time to understand what we said. I think I might try this over the weekend…my family is due for another afternoon where I become Jane Austen… 😉

  8. I can’t say I have given Colonel Brandon much thought either to like or dislike his character. He was just there…steady, strong, reliable, patient…..which, when I do think about it, is very pleasant. Hmmm…he may have to be moved up on my list of favourites. 🙂

  9. I loved Alan Rickman’s portrayal of Col. Brandon (well I love AR in anything!) so I can see your point. As for being entitled, don’t get me started. 🙂

    • Me too, on both accounts!!!! Maybe I’ll blog about entitlement for my next month’s post. THAT would be a lively discussion, don’t you think, Brenda????

  10. I do like Brandon and like others am strongly influenced by Rickman’s portrayal. But that whole Eliza 1 and Eliza 2 and Marianne a possible Eliza 3 is just a little creepy. Other than that, I like a man in flannel.

    • Ha ha! So true. In today’s world, he would not be so celebrated, would he? She was, after all, underage (for our times, anyway).

  11. I always think of Mr. Knightley first. He was Emma’s friend and loved her even when she was being stupid, petty and manipulative. When she pulls her head out and realizes what is real, her heart sees him first. No problem with communication between those two, they were used to bantering and baiting so the mood just changed. I love that. When I say Emma is my fave novel, I get a raised eyebrow but the book is named Emma not Mr. Knightley sooooo….LOL I’m also a fan of Col. Brandon. Darcy is 3rd. 🙂 I’m also a big fan of Elinor. I jokingly refer to myself as an Elinor/Lizzy mashup. Obstinate, headstrong girl with a practical and economic bent.

    I work in finance in higher education and I see the entitlement so much its not even humorous anymore. The joy for me are the students who are awarded a scholarship on merit and they are nearly in tears from the news. Like you, I worked with a charity, but mine was Letters from Santa. We would get letters from (local) kids that needed food or (one of the most heartbreaking) wrote the letter because he had given his only shoes to the girl next door because she didn’t have any. But then when we would go to do a Santa drop they had 60″ televisions and brand new iPhones and the kid was wearing socks to school in place of shoes and eating breakfast when he got there because there was no food at home. I just don’t understand it. Rant over. O:-)

    • OK! You have convinced me. Between you and Brenda, I will write my next blog on entitlement. I had the same exact experience, Stephanie, in Pembroke, Illinois. It was heartbreaking to learn that so many people were taking advantage of charity…which is a real shame for the ones who were not. Same deal in Newark, NJ when I used to take baby food and diapers to the inner city (with police escort…and they REFUSED to get out of the car b/c the neighborhood was so awful)…only to learn that the mother sold it for heroin and wound up in jail! The boyfriend called me and asked me for money. #no

      Back to your response, I DO like Knightley. He is such an awesome counterbalance to Emma’s zaniness. Of all the characters that Jane Austen so cleverly crafted, I actually feel that I am most like Emma. So I love Emma, too. It’s such a light, fun, and humorous read. But let’s face it…we could probably argue that each book written by Jane Austen has something “favorite” about it. Her consistency in woo’ing us with her characters is undeniable. She certainly gave us wonderful couples to discuss and debate.

      I like your Elinor/Elizabeth mash-up!!!! #supercute

    • Patience coupled with compassion and strength (intellectual, not just physical). To me, that is the perfect storm!!!! I’m lucky that my husband has that. He needs it with me. 😉

  12. Thank you for this interesting post about Colonel Brandon. I agree that patience is a great virtue!

  13. I, too, think Colonel Brandon is a wonderful man – and I always have. But I must admit, seeing Alan Rickman as Colonel Brandon (many times) has had a lot to do with my admiration. The question is: have Austen’s depictions been colored by film adaptations?

    • Ahhhhh….good point, Lilyane.

      I think this topic will be a future blog post for me (along with Brenda and Stephanie’s comments about entitlement). Can I give you a cliffhanger and say stay tuned????

      P.S. My answer is YES and NO…which I know isn’t fair because I should just choose one. But I do believe it is more complicated than that. This will be an interesting topic to explore.

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