Give me an occupation, Miss Dashwood, or I shall run mad.
From one of my favorite movies (1995 version), and favorite books, Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen.
“Give me an occupation, Miss Dashwood, or I shall run mad.”
The quote was uttered by Colonel Brandon, after his rescue of Marianne, who was extremely ill.
How does one summarize the character of Colonel Brandon?
- His loyalty to country: In his youth and in love with Eliza, Brandon is called away to the army, while his brother marries her instead.
- His sense of honor: Brandon’s brother divorces from Eliza. She ends up in the poorhouse with child. Colonel Brandon, at her death, adopts and cares for her child (also named Eliza).
- His reserve: There’s something to be said for control of one’s emotions. Brandon may seem rough on the exterior, but he is tenderhearted. While he witnesses Marianne falling head-over-heels in love with Willoughby, he remains silent, though he himself is also in love with her.
- His restraint: He knows Willoughby has not only had romantic interludes with the young Eliza, but also managed to impregnate her and then abandoned her. Yet, with the Dashwood’s he manages not to speak ill (until later, only to give possible explanation to Willoughby’s actions). Eventually they duel, he to exact punishment. Willoughby ends up getting what he deserves.
- His devotion: Love at first sight, he experienced it. But it is his constant devotion to Marianne that is evident in the pains he takes to ensure her well-being and happiness: his search for her after she disappeared from grief at Willoughby’s doing, his returning her home and vigil by her door, hoping for her recovery.
Some might say, what of passion? Where is the spontaneity? Colonel Brandon is dull, lacking the heat and desire. That isn’t love. Love is more than just the initial falling, the flutter of the heart. Of literary characters that I’ve read in the past, I believe Colonel Brandon has been one of my favorites. And I’ve found that others see the same qualities that would be desirable in most men. A man who loves a woman, no matter the circumstance and who would love her through illness, through the good and bad, throughout life. Love bears all things.