Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

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Compare and contrast the characterization of John Willoughby and Colonel Brandon in Sense and Sensibility.

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John Willoughby and Colonel Brandon are the two main competitors for Marianne's hand in marriage. They are both foils of one another, each acting as the polar opposite of the other and therefore highlighting the differences in characterization between them.

Willoughby makes a good first impression on Marianne when he helps her after she twists her ankle in the rain. He is handsome, charming, and vivacious. However, he turns out to be a bit of a cad: later, it is revealed he seduced Colonel Brandon's teenage ward and left her pregnant.

Colonel Brandon is initially not as exciting a marriage prospect as Willoughby. He is older and quieter, even melancholy in demeanor. He is also much older than Marianne. He is a conventional fellow, not prone to romantic gestures. And yet, he is also patient—willing to forgive Marianne's snubs—and fiercely loyal.

Marianne starts the novel as quite naive and shallow, so naturally she prefers the handsome, extroverted Willoughby at first. However, over...

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