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Sneaking a Peek at Sense & Sensibility Entry 14

People: Marianne and Willoughby

Text: Mrs. Dashwood, Elinor, and Margaret went to visit Lady Middleton and Mrs. Jennings. Marianne requested to stay behind at the cottage. The family assumed that Willoughby had desired to speak with her privately, and they all secretly hoped to return home to find he had proposed.

               Willoughby’s carriage and manservant were at the cottage, but the scene inside was completely unexpected. Marianne saw her family enter and ran up the stairs to her room crying. Willoughby’s back was to them, and he was facing the fireplace in the parlor. When he turned around, it was obvious that he too bore the same burden as Marianne.

               “Is anything the matter with her?” cried Mrs. Dashwood as she entered. “Is she ill?”

               “I hope not,” he replied, trying to look cheerful; and with a forced smile, presently added, “It is I who may rather expect to be ill-for I am now suffering under a very heavy disappointment!”


               “Yes,” Willoughby said, “for I am unable to keep my engagement with you. Mrs. Smith has this morning exercised the privilege of riches upon a poor dependent cousin, by sending me on business to London.”

               “To London! And are you going this morning?”

               “Almost this moment.”

               Mrs. Dashwood expressed her disappointment but took the time to invite Willoughby to stay with them when he stated that he was not expected to be back in the area for a year. Her generous invitation had a strange effect on Willoughby. His color increased and fixed his eyes on the ground.

               He responded, “My engagements at present are of such a nature-that-I dare not flatter myself…” He stopped. Mrs. Dashwood was too much astonished to speak and another pause succeeded. “It is folly to linger in this manner. I will not torment myself any longer by remaining among friends whose society it is impossible for me now to enjoy.”

               He then hastily took leave of them all and left the room. They saw him step into his carriage, and in a minute, it was out of sight.

Emotion: disappointment

Insight:   James 1:6 knows Willoughby, “…for one who doubts is like the wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.”

               The Dashwood family is shocked by the devastation of Marianne and the sudden, strange departure of Mr. Willoughby. With looks of confusion, and maybe guilt, he leaves the cottage and family with absolutely no explanation, just that his benefactor was sending him to London on extended business.

               After criticizing Colonel Brandon for being fickle, Willoughby himself partakes of the very weakness that he so willingly disdained in another. Although the fickle tendency of the man in James 1:6 is specifically speaking of praying with doubts and not faith, the application still applies. Willoughby appears to be easily tossed by the winds of change and pressure and leaves the Dashwood family speechless and forlorn. May we be more dependable than Mr. Willoughby and have the faith to follow through with those passions that we possess. Let us not leave a wake of despair as a result of our being tossed by the storms of life.


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