“Rejoice with me, my friend,” Sanford writes Charles, “that I have made my peace with the mistress of my heart.” Sanford goes on to say that he has “atoned” for his past offenses, and that Eliza has forgiven him. Sanford’s “sensibility” surprised even himself. “Why, I was as much a woman as the very weakest of the sex!”
Here, Sanford openly admits that he believes women inferior, and that in his romantic condition, he is no better than the “weakest” woman. While Sanford may “atone” for past offenses, he certainly does nothing to cease those he is currently guilty of, like misleading his wife and continuing to pursue Eliza.
Sanford tells Charles that Eliza “is extremely altered,” and that her depressed nature “mortifies [him] exceedingly.” He suspects Reverend Boyer is to blame for Eliza’s despair, but he “flatters” himself “to have contributed in a degree.” Sanford visits her often, sometimes with Nancy, and the two have become friends. He thinks about Eliza constantly when he is not with her, and Nancy has grown suspicious. She recently asked Sanford if Eliza “had a fortune,” and Sanford assured her that she didn’t. “No,” he said, “if she had I should have married her.” Sanford knows this comment upset his wife, and while he did apologize for it, he isn’t sorry. He doesn’t love Nancy.
Sanford clearly doesn’t respect Nancy and he cares very little about her feelings. He openly shows her contempt and doesn’t even attempt to hide his feelings for Eliza. This behavior also aligns with patriarchal ideals—as Sanford believes himself superior to Nancy (and all women), he has no problem hurting her feelings and being the source of her misery. Furthermore, Sanford doesn’t seem particularly worried that Nancy will leave him, which suggests women are expected to silently endure this type of marital abuse and neglect.