Let’s talk about Isaac Warden. [When This is the House was under discussion before, Molly and Elijah were visiting Mother Merrick, Elijah was off to his first command and Molly was being taught all kinds of household things by Elizabeth Warden.] Then Isaac comes home, lying to his mother, hoping to escape to London before his father gets back from sea. But Mistress Warden is too canny for that. I think she already knows he’s a bad apple…
So he works his way around her, sets up to study law in the parlor, gets sick and is nursed by Molly and everyone else in the house, and by then Molly is totally besotted. This is a modern image of him.
He lures her, bit by little bit, knowing full well that women find him irresistible. Indeed, I do, myself, even while I hate him! But then I rethink him, and consider:
That he is spoiled by his parents and the household staff as the younger son and well able, from the sound of it, to beguile adults into giving him what he wants. (He was his father’s toy.)That he can’t compete with his brother. John had what it took to be a leader; he mingled easily with the other children at district school (while Isaac, more reserved with these young folk of lesser rank, held back). John took easily to deep water; the expectation is that Isaac, too, will do well at sea, yet it never really worked for him. He seems not to fit anywhere.
But he’s the very devil with the girls (so says Ellen, the cook). In this arena he excels. And loves life in the fast lane — gambling, cards, drink, etc. When Captain Warden gets home, he threatens to send Isaac to Mr. Franklin’s college in Philadelphia, under the supervision of Quaker family members who will see to it that he behaves. So Isaac knows he has to do well in London and behave himself, or this fate will befall him.
If I choose to, I can feel sorry for Isaac, though my loyalty is with Molly and I am appalled at what he does to her without so much as a loving word. He ruins her, and thinks he can bully her into coming to England with him, where she will surely have to turn to prostitution once he’s done with her. Whatever sympathy I might have had for him disappears, and despite his struggle for identity in the wake of his older brother, and despite the fact that many a young man proves himself in the ways Isaac also chooses, I am unable to give him a whole lot of leeway.
And yet, he loves women. I don’t think it’s all about proving himself, or even amusing himself. I think he really loves them, and I think he really loves Molly – to the extent that such a man can. And face it, he IS pretty cute!