I’ll be honest. I took way too long to settle on a topic for this issue, “Love Triangles.”
I sat and stared at my blank computer screen, racking my brains for something—anything!—yet coming up empty. Finally, I complained to a dear friend (and fellow Femnista writer). “Where have all the good love triangles gone? Why, oh why, can’t I think of one?”
Her response was immediate: “Sense and Sensibility! Your favorite Austen story!”
And lo, out of darkness, there appeared a great light… in my brain, that is. “Oh.”
Sense and Sensibility features one of the great love triangles of classic literature, between Colonel Brandon, John Willoughby, and Miss Marianne Dashwood. It has all the drama, passion, deceit, betrayal, unrequited pining, and near-death experiences any romance fan could wish. Why didn’t it spring to mind when I was asked to write about a love triangle? Why the endless brain-racking?
That’s easy. I forgot Sense and Sensibility’s triangle because only one ‘point’ of that triangle matters to me. Colonel Brandon has captured my heart so thoroughly, John Willoughby all but fades out of existence. Willoughby means nothing. His rival means everything.
How can Marianne spend three-quarters of the book obsessed with this Willoughby fellow? I don’t understand it! What’s his attraction? He reads poetry? Please… I don’t even like poetry all that much. He dances all night without getting tired? Dancing is for the birds, friends. He’s good looking? Excuse me, have you taken a glance at Alan Rickman or David Morrissey lately?
Colonel Brandon, unlike Willoughby, is the real thing, and no girl in her right mind would turn him down. This means you, Mademoiselle Marianne! He has a house, and land, and a settled future. He has an Army career and plenty of life experience under his belt. He’s not about to be summarily disinherited for predatory sexual behavior. He doesn’t sleep around because he can’t make up his mind. When he chooses to love, to care, he sees the job through to the end, regardless of return or reward.
Let’s not forget, he boasts a delicious middle-distance smolder. (Thanks, Alan Rickman.)
For the sake of the drama, the conflict, and the intrigue, I suppose I’m glad Marianne has such a hard time choosing the right man. Sense and Sensibility wouldn’t be the classic it is today without Willoughby. But were I in her shoes, I’d run to Colonel Brandon’s arms before you could say “Regency Period,” and the triangle would collapse in the twinkling of an eye.
The book’s over. Everybody go home. Especially Willoughby. We don’t need him ‘round here no more.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jessica Prescott is a former homeschool student and current graduate student, pursuing a master’s degree in American history with a focus on immigration studies. In her (sadly limited) free time, she can usually be found listening to “Hamilton” or Celine Dion or Twenty One Pilots and dreaming up new ideas for historical fiction novels. Which, she hopes, will someday make her famous. Someday. She also blogs.