Sir Willoughby Patterne
Sir Willoughby Patterne, a nobleman whose pattern of egocentricities includes duplicity, austerity, snobbery, and sententiousness. Though he has played on the heartstrings of his most devoted Laetitia Dale, he learns through two broken engagements that all his barren heart can hope for is the solace of the good woman whom he has converted to egoism. Finally, Sir Willoughby is forced to abandon double dealing, to come down from the pedestal where he has viewed himself only in a favorable light, to bend his pride for the sake of a young cousin and a former servant whom he has wronged, and to accommodate himself to the understanding that his wife sees through him and cannot therefore love him. He will, of course, continue to be an egoist, though a more enlightened and flexible one.
Laetitia Dale, his silent admirer for many years and finally his public scourger. A longtime tenant of Sir Willoughby’s in a cottage where she nurses her invalid father and writes for a living, she finally sickens of Patterne’s self-centered ways, particularly toward his kinsman and her student, young Crossjay Patterne, whose life is being forced into the wrong mold. Always gentle, amenable, and trustworthy, Laetitia finally tires of being a confidante and becomes defiant in her refusal of the nobleman’s hand after all others have failed him. Her warmth of admiration has been chilled by observation; her youth has gone in yearning; her health has suffered from literary drudgery. She makes her own terms for becoming Lady Patterne, to which Sir...
(The entire section is 659 words.)