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Jane Austen was born in Steventon, England, in 1775, the seventh of eight children. Her father, the Rev. George Austen, her mother Cassandra, and their six boys and two girls lived modestly at the rectory. At the periphery of the upper class, her father farmed and taught to supplement their income. Her father was a classics scholar, and all the children were schooled at home, boys by dad, and the girls by mom. Austen also spent several years studying at a school away from home. Her childhood was from all accounts happy; her family often read aloud to each other and performed plays. They encouraged her talent and intellect, and Austen began writing during her teenage years to entertain her younger brother.
Bath, the area of England most associated with Jane Austen, was home for only four years, from 1801 to 1805. The family moved there when her father retired, and moved to Southampton in 1805 after her father's death. She lived in Southampton until 1809, when she moved into a house her brother had obtained for her and her family in Chawston. The period during Austen's residence in Bath and Southampton was a stark one from a literary perspective-- Austen wrote little during this time. Travel and tedious social engagements kept her busy in Bath; in Southampton she was troubled by city life and a noisy infant recently added to the household.
Likely because marriage figures so prominently in her novels, much has been made of Austen's decision not to marry. Though there exists little evidence to support any romances, as many of her more intimate letters were destroyed, there is much speculation on the topic. Being unmarried in one's twenties qualified one as a spinster, but Austen accepted and then quickly rejected a proposal made to her at the age of twenty-seven. There is also rumor of a love in her childhood whom she was unable to marry due to her small fortune, and a somber tale of a mystery man who died soon after Austen fell in love with him. Dedicated to her writing and protective of her privacy, there is no record of her complaining about her single life.
Austen worked hard on her novels, constantly revising them. She wrote her first work, a satire, at the age of 15. Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, and Northanger Abbey were all begun in the 1790s and revised greatly before their publication, with Sense and Sensibility not published until 1811. Early in her career, Austen used the epistolary form for her writing, and the first draft of Sense and Sensibility, then entitled Elinor and Marianne, was a novel composed of letters. Her three later novels, Mansfield Park, Emma, and Persuasion, were all written later in life. Of all her works, only Emma was written with relative speed. Publishing her novels was important to Austen, though nearly all were published long after they were written; Northanger Abbey and Persuasion being published posthumously. Her desire to publish anonymously was not unusual; for a woman writer, fame could often lead to infamy. It was not until after her death, in 1818, that a biographical note was added to her novels and her authorship was established.
The novelist Virginia Woolf said of Jane Austen: "Of all the great writers she is the most difficult to catch in the act of greatness." The deftness of Austen's prose and observations have often been mistaken as signs of a lack of professionalism and labor, rather that her success as a novelist. A keen observer of social class and customs, Austen has been criticized for the realism in her novels, especially discussions of economic matters. Yet Austen also has many admirers. Immortalized in a Rudyard Kipling story called "The Janeites," this secret group is described as strong admirers of the novelist, who find her characters as relevant and real today as in the 1800s. Not having received much acclaim by the time she died of Addison's disease in 1817, Austen is today the respected and well-read author she desired to become.
Austen, Jane. Sense and Sensibility. New York: Penguin Books, 1995.
Fergus, Jan. Jane Austen: A Literary Life. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1991.
Joyce, Elizabeth. "Jane Austen." British Women Writers: A Critical Reference Guide. Ed. by Janet Todd. New York: Continuum, 1989.
Southan, Brian. "Jane Austen." British Writers. Vol. 4., ed. by Ian Scott-Kilvert. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1981.
Stapleton, Michael, ed. Cambridge Guide to English Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983.
The death of Mr. Henry Dashwood's uncle opens the novel. Upon the uncle's death, Norland estate is inherited by Henry Dashwood, on the condition it should next pass to his son John and John's young son, and not to his three daughters Elinor, Marianne, and Margaret. John Dashwood is wealthy, but at Mr. Dashwood's death, the Dashwood women are left with only a small fortune. On his deathbed, Mr. Dashwood made his son promise to provide for his stepmother and stepsisters, but John is easily persuaded by his selfish wife that they should use the money for their "real" family, namely their son. He and his family move into Norland estate.
Feeling like guests in what had been their home, the four Dashwood women seek a new house on their limited budget. In the interim, the family is visited by Edward Ferrars, Fanny's brother. He and Elinor get along well, and the family expects they will marry. Their courtship is interrupted by a telegram from a relative telling of a cottage they may rent in Southern England. With mixed feelings, the Dashwoods leave their home and travel to Barton Cottage.
They arrive to meet the owners of Barton Park, Sir John Middleton and his wife Lady Middleton. They also meet Mrs. Jennings, Lady Middleton's mother. She likes the girls very much, as does Colonel Brandon, an older friend of the Middleton's who takes a liking to Marianne. Marianne thinks the Colonel is too old for romance. She prefers the dashing Willoughby, who assists her after she falls down a hill and injures her ankle. After carrying her home, the two would meet often and discuss their many mutual interests. People begin to suspect they will be a match, until one day Willoughby suddenly leaves Devonshire for London, upsetting everyone, Marianne most of all.
Soon after Willoughby's departure, Edward Ferrars makes a belated visit to the Cottage. He seems distant, and Elinor fears he may no longer have feelings for her. After he leaves, the Dashwoods receive two new guests, the Palmers. When the Palmers leave, they are replaced by two young ladies, Ann and Lucy Steele. Sir John tells the Miss Steeles that Elinor is attached to Mr. Ferrars. When Lucy Steele asks Elinor for her confidence, Lucy reveals that she is attached to Edward Ferrars. Elinor conceals her own connection while Lucy tells her about their secret four-year engagement.
Mrs. Jennings invites Elinor and Marianne to her London home. Upon arriving in London, Marianne immediately writes Willoughby, but her letters go unanswered. Elinor becomes increasingly suspicious of their engagement. When they encounter Willoughby at a party, he is cold and formal, and accompanied by another woman.
Marianne writes to Willoughby the next day, and soon receives a letter from him. In it, he denies any feelings for her, apologizes for any confusion, and tells her he is engaged to another woman. This woman, they learn, has a large fortune. Marianne admits there was no formal engagement, but her love for Willoughby is clear. Marianne falls into a terrible emotional and physical sickness.
Colonel Brandon reveals to Elinor how Willoughby seduced the Colonel's young foster daughter, leaving her alone, penniless, and pregnant. When Elinor repeats this story to Marianne, Willoughby's poor character is cemented in her mind.
Soon after they hear of Willoughby's marriage, the two Miss Steele's arrive. John and Fanny Dashwood are also in town. John tells Elinor that Edward Ferrars is likely to be married soon, to a woman with a large fortune. When Elinor next sees Lucy, it is in the presence of Mrs. Ferrars, Edward's mother. Mrs. Ferrars, suspecting no connection between Edward and Lucy, treats Lucy wonderfully, while she coolly ignores Elinor.
Mrs. Jennings has some startling news to tell Elinor. Fanny has learned of Lucy and Edward's long-standing engagement. Feeling angry and betrayed, Fanny threw the Miss Steeles out of her house. They learn from John Dashwood that Mrs. Ferrars asked Edward to end the engagement, and when he would not, she disinherited him, leaving him nearly broke.
While walking in the park, Elinor runs into Ann Steele. She tells Elinor that Edward offered to end the engagement, but that Lucy was firm that it continue. Edward expects to take religious orders in his effort to support them. The next day, Elinor receives a letter from Lucy, telling her what has happened, and that though she urged Edward to end the engagement for his own sake, he would not hear of it.
Elinor and Marianne plan to return to Barton Cottage, but they visit a few weeks at the Palmers' house in Cleveland first. Before leaving, Colonel Brandon tells Elinor of a parsonage on his estate that Edward could manage. With this addition of income, his marriage is likely.
Shortly after arriving at Cleveland, Marianne catches a violent cold. She becomes feverish and delirious. Elinor sends Colonel Brandon to fetch her mother while she calls the doctor, and many anxious moments ensue. Willoughby arrives, anxious to explain himself. He tells Elinor he did and still does love Marianne, and was going to ask her to marry him, when his benefactress became informed of his behavior towards Colonel Brandon's foster daughter. He was dismissed, and to keep his wealthy lifestyle, he had to marry well, which he did, and now deeply regrets. He admits to Elinor that the cruel final letter written to Marianne was actually written by his wife.
Mrs. Dashwood arrives with Colonel Brandon. During the ride, the Colonel revealed to her his love for Marianne, and Mrs. Dashwood hopes to have them married. When Marianne is well enough, the three return to Barton. Several days after their arrival, they learn of the marriage of Mr. Ferrars. The next day, Edward arrives at Barton. When Elinor inquires about Mrs. Ferrars, he tells her that it was his brother, not he, who wed Lucy Steele.
Edward asks Elinor to marry him, and she agrees. Edward attempts to reconcile with his mother, and she gives them a little money. The two are now able to marry, and take up residence at the Colonel's parsonage.
With everyone desiring it, Marianne finds herself unable to resist a marriage to Colonel Brandon. His kindness has made him more attractive to her over time. They are married, and live happily only moments away from Edward and Elinor.
Mrs. Henry Dashwood: The second wife of Mr. Henry Dashwood, and mother of Elinor, Marianne, and Margaret. She is most like Marianne in temperament—romantic, impractical, and loving. Not believing that money should keep lovers apart, she sees nothing wrong with her girls marrying above them. She trusts her daughters, and chooses to believe that Marianne and Willoughby are engaged, rather than ask them as Elinor suggests. Not concerned about money or custom, it is Elinor who must act the parent in such matters.
Elinor Dashwood : The eldest of the Dashwood sisters. Elinor is the most rational, often having to remind her mother what is the proper way to behave or handle one’s money. It is she who notices all the little inconsistencies in polite society, and the hypocritical nature of many with whom they associate. She falls in love with Edward, but she is cautious, unsure if he feels the same way. She is not so romantic as to assume that money cannot help make you happy, or help you to marry the right man. Sensitive, she feels pain when Edward treats her coldly, but she hides it, and treats him as manners dictate. With Lucy Steele, Elinor is placed in an awful position. To be Lucy’s confidante, when Lucy confesses it is she who is engaged to Edward, is nearly more than Elinor can stand. But she pretends nothing is the matter, and does so for four months. When Marianne is hurt by Willoughby, she hides nothing, and shares her misery with the house, everyday. But Elinor wants to spare her family the pain she is suffering. Perhaps as a reward for this behavior, Elinor marries Edward, her first love, whereas Marianne marries the Colonel.
Marianne Dashwood: The middle daughter, Marianne is seventeen. She is emotional and romantic. Very intelligent, she reads the Romantic poets and plays the piano. Unwaveringly honest to her feelings, Marianne cannot lie or flatter or behave in ways contrary to what she feels. When she loses Willoughby, she lets everyone see and feel her grief. She is convinced her opinions are permanently set, and one of her main opinions is that people can never love twice. She also believes lovers should only be young and passionate. This makes Willoughby perfect, Edward less so, and the Colonel unacceptable. But by the end of the novel, Marianne begins to see the Colonel in a more favorable light, and they marry.
Mr. John Dashwood: The son of Mr. Henry Dashwood from his first marriage. John has a large inheritance from his mother, and also money from his wife Fanny. They have a young son, Harry. John, in his bad qualities, is a weaker version of his wife. He promises his father he will help take care of his stepmother and stepsisters, but he is easily persuaded to give them nothing. He complains about being poor, which he isn’t, to avoid giving away any of his money. John usually sides with his wife and his mother-in-law on most issues. He does not think Elinor has enough money to marry Edward, and does not try to help them wed.
Mrs. John (Fanny) Dashwood: Cold and mean, John’s wife Fanny moves her family into Norland right after Mr. Dashwood’s funeral. She is Edward’s sister, and she does not approve of his marrying Elinor. It is most important that he marry someone wealthy. Money is in fact her main concern—how much they have, how to get more, and how to not give any of it away to the Dashwoods. The Dashwood women do not like her, and she does not like them.
Edward Ferrars: The brother of Robert and Fanny. Edward is not attractive or dashing, and he is not a smooth talker. He is also not very interested in art or literature. But he is honest and loyal, and does what he thinks is right. Though he no longer loves Lucy Steele, he will not break off the engagement, even though he does not love her. He has made a promise, and that bond is most important to him. Like Elinor, he will sacrifice his own feelings to do what is right. Thinking of others before himself, he does all he can to make his marriage to Lucy possible, and when his mother asks him to break it off, and marry a more wealthy girl, his good character will not let him do it. So he is disinherited, and hopes to take orders in an effort to support Lucy. Lucky for him, Lucy falls in love with his brother, and marries Robert. This leaves Edward free to marry his real love, Elinor.
Mrs. Jennings: The widowed mother of Lady Middleton and Charlotte Palmer. Her husband was a craftsman, and her class is not as high as the Middletons. Not reserved at all, she is happy and boisterous, loving to match-make and tease the young girls about their loves. Such comments are often improper in polite society, and Marianne does not like Mrs. Jennings, but Elinor tolerates her. Mrs. Jennings has Elinor and Marianne stay with her in London. Though she can often make hurtful and ill-timed comments about Willoughby or Edward, they come to appreciate her as caring, loyal, and more honest than other people they know. She acts as a surrogate mother while they are in London, and by the end of their stay and Marianne’s sickness at Cleveland, her good character is shines through all of her teasing and vulgar remarks.
Colonel Brandon: An older friend of Sir John Middleton. Thirty-five, he is an attractive, distinguished older man. Quiet, dependable, and caring, his good qualities seem to increase as time goes by. Saddened by the death of his first love, Eliza, he has taken care of her daughter for many years. He is hurt again when Willoughby runs off with this daughter, gets her pregnant, and then leaves her. Though he loves Marianne, he suffers seeing her with Willoughby. Marianne thinks the Colonel is too old to be a lover, and the Colonel does not try to change her mind. Instead he watches quietly, and acts the hero by bringing Marianne her mother when Marianne falls ill. After her illness, Marianne begins to respect the Colonel more, and the two soon marry.
Willoughby: Marianne’s first love. He is attractive and graceful, and a lover of good literature. They meet in a romantically: Marianne sprains her ankle and Willoughby carries her home in the rain. He falls in love with Marianne, but he does not respect her reputation, giving her large gifts and spending time with her only in private. He leaves suddenly, and we later learn it is because Mrs. Smith disapproved of his behavior towards Miss Williams. Mrs. Smith disinherits him, and he is broke. Money is very important to Willoughby, as he enjoys living well. So he leaves Marianne, whom he loves, and becomes engaged to Miss Grey, who has a large fortune. He also treats Marianne terribly, ignoring her letters, treating her coolly at a party, and sending her a cruel last letter in which he denies any relationship. When Marianne is ill, he realizes the mistakes he has made, and apologizes to Elinor for all the pain he caused. Willoughby is a rake, seducing women without thinking of either their feelings or the consequences of his actions. He favors money over love, and treats those who love him with indifference. His punishment is not an unhappy marriage, but an unextraordinary one.
Mrs. Ferrars: Mother of Edward, Fanny, and Robert. A mean and controlling woman, Mrs. Ferrars only wants her sons to do what she wants them to do. She doesn’t care what profession Edward would like, she only cares what will make the family look best. So concerned with appearances, it is not surprising that she wants Edward to marry a wealthy woman. Knowing of Elinor’s affection for Edward, she treats Elinor terribly when they meet, while she gushes at Lucy. When she learns of the secret engagement, she disinherits Edward, making Robert the eldest son. When Robert, her favorite, commits the same offense and marries Lucy Steele, he is forgiven much more quickly.
Robert Ferrars: Edward and Fanny’s brother. He is a silly and superficial man, a fop or coxcomb. He debates long and hard over the details of his tooth-pick case. He cares so little about his brother that he will marry Edward’s fiancee, and then weasel his way back into the family’s good graces.
Lucy Steele: Cousin of Mrs. Jennings, she is the younger Steele girl. Fashionable, somewhat attractive, her manners are perfect but her character is not. She is uneducated, and can often be cruel. Ambitious, she flatters and lies to get what she wants. She met Edward several years ago while he was studying with her uncle, and the two of them became engaged. The engagement is kept a secret for four years. Suspecting Elinor may have feelings for Edward, Lucy brings Elinor in on the secret. Then Elinor must sit quietly, while Lucy cruelly relates her love for Edward, and the forces keeping them apart. Lucy has a very small fortune, and doubts that Edward’s mother would agree to the marriage. Lucy wants Elinor to be jealous, but Elinor is too composed to show what she feels. Lucy weasels her way into Fanny and John’s house, and while she is staying there, her secret is revealed. She is thrown out, but soon becomes secretly attached to Robert, Edward’s brother. She sends Edward a letter telling him what has happened. As a final stroke of meanness, Lucy tells Elinor’s servant to tell Elinor that she is now Mrs. Ferrars, knowing what Elinor will assume and how awful it will make her feel.
Ann/Nancy Steele: Cousin of Mrs. Jennings, the older Steele girl. She is not very attractive, lacks manners, and makes lots of improper comments. She is silly and unintelligent. She likes Dr. Davies, and since nobody cares to ask her about him, she talks about him constantly.
uncle of Mr. Henry Dashwood: The owner of Norland estate. When his sister dies, he invites Mr. Dashwood, his wife, and their three children to live with him. He loves them and they get along well, but the uncle is charmed by Harry, the grandson of Mr. Dashwood, and decides to leave Norland to Henry Dashwood on the condition that it will next pass to John Dashwood, Henry’s son from his first marriage. The uncle still leaves each girl a small fortune, but the small sum is not comparable to Norland.
Mr. Henry Dashwood: The husband of Mrs. Dashwood, the father of John, Elinor, Marianne, and Margaret. His first wife, the mother of John, died, and after her death, Mr. Dashwood married Mrs. Dashwood, and they had the three girls. Mr. Dashwood is sad that Norland will go to John, and worries that his daughters will not have enough money to marry. Dying only a year after his uncle, Henry makes John promise to take care of his stepmother and stepsisters. Then he dies, leaving his wife and girls with what little money he had.
Margaret Dashwood: The youngest of the Dashwood girls. She is like Marianne in her romantic notions and high emotions, but Elinor is doubtful Margaret is going to be as intelligent as Marianne. Too young for dances or travel, Margaret is far in the background for nearly the entire novel.
Mrs. Henry Dashwood (first wife): John’s mother. When she died, she left him a large fortune.
young Harry Dashwood: The young son of John and Fanny. The child so delights the uncle of Henry Dashwood that Norland Estate is left to him. Most of Fanny’s concerns about money center around Harry. She worries that if they give away even a pound, Harry will be impoverished.
Sir John Middleton: The owner of Barton Park, husband to Lady Middleton. He is pleasant and friendly, and does all he can to make the Dashwoods feel at home. He hunts, and that is his primary amusement. He also enjoys getting dances and parties together so the young people can enjoy themselves.
Lady Middleton: The wife of Sir John Middleton. She has two concerns: looking good to others, and the care of her children. She is very concerned with how people view her, and she always wants her house and her parties to be the best. She is cold and quiet, and the Dashwoods find her personality “repulsive.”
Miss Williams: The foster daughter of Colonel Brandon. Mrs. Jennings assumes she is his natural daughter, but she is not. She is the illegitimate child of the Colonel’s first love. After her mother died, the Colonel took on the care of Miss Williams. The fate of Miss Williams parallels that of her mother, Eliza. When away on a trip, Miss Williams meets Willoughby and the two run away together. He leaves her pregnant and penniless, and the Colonel must come to her aid. Willoughby’s benefactress is informed, and asks Willoughby to marry the girl. When he refuses, she disinherits him. This causes his removal from Barton, and his desire to marry a rich woman instead of Marianne.
Mrs. Smith: Willoughby’s benefactress, who lives at Allenham near Norland. She does not approve of Willoughby’s behavior toward Miss Williams, and when he will not marry her, she disinherits him.
Mr. Palmer: The husband of Charlotte Palmer. His estate is Cleveland. He is a rude man, who likes to imagine himself superior to everyone in the room. He treats his ridiculously cheerful wife worst of all, usually ignoring or insulting her, which she finds hilarious. Elinor imagines he is still angry that he married such an attractive but silly woman. Quite a common occurrence, and he should get over it and behave civilly.
Mrs. Charlotte Palmer: The wife of Mr. Palmer, and daughter of Mrs. Jennings. She is in the early stages of her first pregnancy. Mrs. Palmer is pretty, and she smiles constantly, unlike her sister Lady Middleton. Her excessive happiness can often be annoying.
Miss Grey: The wealthy young woman whom Willoughby marries. Jealous and vindictive, she writes the letter Willoughby sends to Marianne, making him recopy it in his own hand. Willoughby chose her because of her money, but he does not love her. He later greatly regrets choosing her over the sweet Marianne, but he let his pocketbook choose his wife.
Eliza: Colonel Brandon’s first love, whom he compares in spirit to Marianne. An orphan, the Colonel’s father was her guardian. They fell in love, but she was wealthy and his family wanted her to marry the Colonel’s older brother, because their family estate was in debt. The two try to elope in Scotland, but Eliza’s maid betrayed them. Eliza was locked up until she would agree to marry the Colonel’s brother, who did not love her. The loveless marriage hurt her terribly, and she soon divorces, which is scandalous for the times. The Colonel finds her in a debtor’s prison, sick with consumption. The Colonel helped her get out of prison and cared for her until she died. She left the Colonel her three-year-old daughter, whose father was unknown. The Colonel cared for her and loved her like his own daughter, and is saddened by what Willoughby has done to her.
Miss Morton: The woman Mrs. Ferrars and Fanny want Edward to marry. When they learn of his engagement to Lucy, they suggest she marry Edward’s brother instead. It is so unimportant who a person marries, so long as they have a big fortune, that they can pass fiancees around like objects.
Mr. Pratt: The uncle of Lucy Steele. He lives at Longstaple, and he tutored Edward at his home for several years. It was during this time that Edward and Lucy became acquainted and got engaged.
Dr. Davies: The supposed beaux of Ann Steele. She loves to go on and on about him, but nobody really cares.
Sussex: County in south east England. Norland is here.
Norland Park: The Dashwood family home. It is inherited temporarily by Mr. Henry Dashwood, but when he dies it goes to his rich son John. John and his family move in right after the funeral, and the Dashwood women feel uncomfortable in what had been their home. The house and its surroundings are beautiful, and it was the site for many happy memories. The Dashwood women are sad to leave it.
annuity: A sum of money paid out yearly. John suggests he fulfill his promise by paying Mrs. Dashwood an annuity, but his wife is afraid Mrs. Dashwood will live for many more years, thus increasing the amount of money they will have to pay her. Fanny is more concerned about money than the quality of life of the Dashwood women.
china and linen: Mrs. Dashwood has china and linen from her old house. Fanny suggests that since Mrs. Dashwood has such nice things (much nicer than theirs, she complains), she does not need any gift of money from John.
Cowper: Marianne's favorite poet. From the Romantic period, his poetry is passionate about nature. Willoughby shares Marianne's love for Cowper, which makes him very attractive to her.
Barton Park: The home of Sir John and Lady Middleton. It is the estate upon which Barton Cottage resides, only a short walk away. The Dashwoods often visit the Middletons at this home.
Barton Cottage: The new home of the Dashwoods. The cottage is small but cozy, and has a beautiful garden. The land is also beautiful and they take many walks in Barton Valley. It is while living here that they meet Willoughby.
Devonshire: County in south west England, home of Barton Cottage. It is very far from Norland.
piano forte: A piano. Marianne enjoys it and plays well. She is often asked to play during parties and small gatherings. She and Willoughby would often play together, and when he leaves she plays their favorite songs over and over.
flannel waistcoat: An undergarment worn to keep warm. Colonel Brandon mentions wearing one, and Marianne takes this as a sign he is old and sickly, and incapable of being a lover.
Allenham: The home of Mrs. Smith, Willoughby's benefactress. Allenham lies in Barton Valley, close to Barton Park. The Dashwood girls are curious to see it, but Marianne gets a private viewing when she and Willoughby sneak away and see the home when Mrs. Smith is not there. Elinor reprimands Marianne for this improper behavior.
Scott: Another of Marianne's favorite poets. A Romantic writer like Cowper.
Pope: An English poet whose writings preceded those of Cowper and Scott. His more reserved approach keeps him from being one of Marianne's favorites, though she does like him.
second attachment: Being in love a second time. Marianne insists that her opinion is fixed that second attachments are impossible. The Colonel, Marianne's father, and by the end of the novel Marianne herself, all have second attachments.
Somersetshire: County in south-west England, the home of Combe Magna, Willoughby's estate.
Queen Mab: The name of the horse Willoughby gives to Marianne. Mab is a fairy queen in English literature. Elinor has to convince Marianne to return the gift because the Dashwoods cannot afford to care for a horse. It is a very impulsive present.
lock of Marianne's hair: Margaret sees Willoughby begging Marianne for a lock of her hair, and Marianne agrees to let him have a few strands. Such an act is a very romantic one, the act of a lover. A loved one's hair was often set in rings and worn by her man. But the way Willoughby asked for the hair is not proper, because the two are not engaged.
Whitwell: The home of Colonel Brandon's brother-in-law. The group is about to take a trip to Whitwell when the Colonel is called away on business. The business involves his foster daughter Eliza, and the harm Willoughby has done to her; but the Colonel at this time keeps his business a secret.
Hamlet: The Shakespearean play the Dashwoods were reading when Willoughby had to leave. Hamlet was a Danish prince who was slow to act, and whose behavior drove Ophelia, who loved him, mad.
hills of Barton Valley: Marianne is disappointed by Edward's reserved description of her beautiful valley. Where Marianne sees perfection, Edward cannot help but see the faults that exist too.
profession: Edward is without profession, and lacks ambition. He would like to enter the clergy, but that is not good enough for his family. He is the eldest son, and it is not unusual for this time period for the eldest son not to have a profession.
hair ring: When Marianne and Elinor see Edward wearing a ring set with hair, they both assume it to be Elinor's, though Edward has never asked for a lock of her hair. This is one of the few times that Elinor jumps to conclusions, letting her heart lead her, and she is sorely disappointed when she learns that the hair actually belongs to Lucy Steele, who is engaged to Edward.
Cleveland: The home of the Palmers. Elinor and Marianne will visit here after their disastrous time in London. Marianne becomes very sick while she is staying here, and nearly dies.
Combe Magna: Willoughbys estate.
Longstaple: The home of Mr. Pratt, Lucy's uncle. In his youth, Edward was under Mr. Pratt's care at Longstaple for several years, during which he fell in love with Lucy.
picture of Edward: Lucy pulls from her pocket a small painting of Edward, adding more proof to the idea that she really is engaged to him.
Edward's letter: A letter from Edward to Lucy, which Lucy thoughtlessly shows to Elinor. This final proof convinces Elinor that they must be attached.
London: Elinor and Marianne stay with Mrs. Jennings in London. The Dashwoods, the Middletons, the Palmers, and the Steele girls are there too. Willoughby is also in town, but he does not answer Marianne's letters. He treats her coldly at a party, then sends her a letter denying any feelings for her. Marianne is grief-stricken, and spends the rest of their time in London being miserable.
Delaford: Colonel Brandon's home. He has a parsonage on his estate that he offers to Edward and Lucy. When Edward ends up marrying Elinor, the two of them move into the parsonage at Delaford.
Marianne's letters: The three letters Marianne writes to Willoughby after their arrival in London. He does not answer them, only writing to her after Marianne's third letter, which demands an explanation for his cold behavior at the party.
Willoughby's letter: Cold and formal, in this letter Willoughby denies having any feelings for Marianne, and apologizes for any confusion. He tells her he will soon be married to another woman. He returns her letters and her lock of hair. The letter is unexpected and out of character; it is the action of an unfeeling cad. We later learn that Willoughby's fiancee wrote the letter in a fit of jealousy after seeing Marianne.
Bath: City in south-west England. When visiting Bath with one of her friends, Miss Williams meets Willoughby and the two run away together. He gets her pregnant, then leaves her penniless and alone.
Lady Middleton's card: The upperclass leave their card with those they wish to associate. All the Dashwood's acquaintances shun Willoughby and his new wife, but Lady Middleton insists on leaving her card with Willoughby's new wife, because she is rich and stylish. It is an uncaring act, but completely in character. Her concern is more for the customs of society than for her young "friend."
tooth-pick case : When Elinor first sees Robert Ferrars (though she does not know at the time it is him), he is meticulously choosing a fancy tooth-pick case at a store in London. First, he does not let Elinor, a woman, place her order first. Second, any man so concerned and fussy about the details of a tooth-pick case is definitely a fop, a dandy.
East Kingham Farm: A farm neighboring Norland which John Dashwood buys. He brings up this purchase to show Elinor how little money he has, so he will not look bad when he does not buy her anything. A large landlord, John buys his neighbor's farm, making him a tenant. Despite his complaints about how much it cost to buy, the new farm will earn John much more money.
Elinor's drawings: Both Elinor and Marianne seriously pursue their artistic talents. Many women of this period practice drawing or music only so they will appear attractive to a prospective husband, then give it up after they marry. Elinor draws quite well, and the hypocritical Ferrars women like her drawings until they learn that they belong to Elinor.
Kensington Gardens: The gardens of Kensington Palace in London. Elinor has a chance meeting here with Ann, who tells Elinor how Edward offered to end the engagement. Elinor is shocked to learn that Ann got her information by eavesdropping on the couple.
libertine: Also known as a rake. A person who thinks only of their libido, and not the feelings of others or the consequences of their actions. At one time it was fashionable to be a libertine; in the Dashwoods' age it is only disgraceful.
Quote 1: "And what possible claim could the Dashwoods, who were related to him only by half blood, which she considered no relationship at all, have on his generosity to so large an amount? It was very well known, that no affection was ever supposed to exist between the children of any man by different marriages; and why was he to ruin himself, and their poor little Harry, by giving away all his money to his half sisters?" Chapter 2, pg. 7
Quote 2: "that when the money is once parted with, it never can return. Your sisters will marry, and it will be gone for ever." Chapter 2, pg. 8
Quote 3: "Yes; and the set of breakfast china is twice as handsome as what belongs to this house. A great deal too handsome, in my opinion, for any place they can ever afford to live in." Chapter 2, pg. 11
Quote 4: "She would not wound the feelings of her sister on any account, and yet to say what she did not believe was impossible." Chapter 4, pg. 16
Quote 5: "I think very highly of him--that I greatly esteem him." Chapter 4, pg. 17
Quote 6: "There was nothing in the party which could recommend them as companions to the Dashwoods; but the cold insipidity of Lady Middleton was so particularly repulsive, that in comparison of it, the gravity of Colonel Brandon, and even the boisterous mirth of Sir John and his mother-in-law, was interesting." Chapter 7, pg.30
Quote 7: "for he was rich, and she was handsome." Chapter 8, pg. 32
Quote 8: "In hastily forming and giving his opinion of other people, in sacrificing general politeness to the enjoyment of undivided attention where his heart is engaged, and in slighting too easily the forms of worldly propriety, he displayed a want of caution which Elinor could not approve..." Chapter 10, pg. 43
Quote 9: "At my time of life opinions are tolerably fixed. It is not likely that I should now see or hear anything to change them." Chapter 17, pg. 81
Quote 10: "it was impossible for her to say what she did not feel, however trivial the occasion; and upon Elinor therefore the whole task of telling lies when politeness required it, always fell." Chapter 21, pg. 104
Quote 11: "'And yet I do assure you,' replied Lucy, her sharp little eyes full of meaning, 'there seemed to me a coldness and displeasure in your manner, that made me quite uncomfortable.'" Chapter 24, pg. 123
Quote 12: "and Elinor sat down to the card-table with the melancholy persuasion that Edward was not only without affection for the person who was to be his wife; but that he had not even the chance of being tolerably happy in marriage, which sincere affection on her side would have given, for self-interest alone could induce a woman to keep a man to an engagement, of which she seemed so thoroughly aware that he was weary." Chapter 24, pg. 127
Quote 13: "came to look at Marianne and talk to Elinor" Chapter 27, pg.142
Quote 14: "My esteem for your whole family is sincere; but if I have been so unfortunate as to give rise to a belief of more than I felt, or meant to express, I shall reproach myself for not having been more guided in my professions of that esteem. That I should ever have meant more, you will allow to be impossible, when you understand that my affections have been long engaged elsewhere, and it will not be many weeks, I believe, before this engagement is fulfilled." Chapter 29, pg. 154
Quote 15: "Happy, happy Elinor, you cannot have an idea of what I suffer." Chapter 29, pg. 156
Quote 16: "She felt the loss of Willoughby's character yet more heavily than she had felt the loss of his heart." Chapter 32, pg. 179
Quote 17: "for we only knew that Mrs. Jennings was the widow of a man, who had got all his money in a low way; and Fanny and Mrs. Ferrars were both strongly prepossessed that neither she nor her daughters were such kind of women as Fanny would like to associate with. But now I can carry her a most satisfactory account of both." Chapter 33, pg. 193
Quote 18: "There was a kind of cold-hearted selfishness on both sides, which mutually attracted them; and they sympathized with each other in an insipid propriety of demeanour, and a general want of understanding." Chapter 34, pg. 194
Quote 19: "Elinor was to be the comforter of others in her own distress, no less than in theirs." Chapter 37, pg. 220
Quote 20: "As for Colonel Brandon, she was not only ready to worship him as a saint, but was moreover truly anxious that he should be treated as one in all worldly concerns; anxious that his tythes should be raised to the utmost; and secretly resolved to avail herself, at Delaford, as for as she possibly could, of his servants, his carriage, his cows, and his poultry." Chapter 41, pg. 248
Quote 21: "Careless of her happiness, thinking only of my own amusement, giving way to feelings which he had always been too much in the habit of indulging, I endeavored, by every means in my power, to make myself pleasing to her, without any design of returning her affections." Chapter 44, pg. 271
Quote 22: "The world had made him extravagant and vain--Extravagance and vanity had made him cold-hearted and selfish. Vanity, while seeking its own guilty triumph at the expense of another, had involved him in a real attachment, which extravagance, or at least its offspring necessity, had required to be sacrificed. Each faulty propensity in leading him to evil, had led him likewise to punishment." Chapter 44, pg. 281
Quote 23: "the vanity of one had been so worked on by the flattery of the other." Chapter 49, pg. 309
Quote 24: "...I scorn to accept a hand while the heart was another's. Sincerely wish you happy in your choice, and it shall not be my fault if we are not always good friends..." Chapter 49, pg. 309
Quote 25: "...were neither of them quite enough in love to think that three hundred and fifty pounds-a-year would supply them with the comforts of life." Chapter 49, pg. 313
Quote 26: "Lucy became as necessary to Mrs. Ferrars, as either Robert or Fanny; and while Edward was never cordially forgiven for having once intended to marry her, and Elinor, though superior to her in fortune and birth, was spoken of as an intruder, she was in everything considered, and always openly acknowledged, to be a favourite child." Chapter 50, pg. 320
Hypocrites 1: John thus twists the promise he made to his father, ignoring what was likely implied by it, so that he may still feel good about himself for what little he is doing. He convinces himself, with Fanny's help, that he is actually a wonderfully generous brother.
Hypocrites 2: Marianne holds back when talking with Elinor about Edward's taste, which she thinks is limited, because: "She would not wound the feelings of her sister on any account, and yet to say what she did not believe was impossible." Chapter 4, pg. 16
Hypocrites 3: Though John has enough money to give the Dashwoods, he chooses to give them none, and acts as though he is poor so he won't look bad for not giving them anything.
Hypocrites 4: The Dashwood women are sad as they leave Norland for their new home, but they act happy so as not to upset the others. When they hide their feelings, it is for the benefit of others, not themselves.
Hypocrites 5: In their enjoyment of society, the Middletons are quite different: Lady Middleton delights in showing off her house and table, while her husband Sir John enjoys the company of people.
Hypocrites 6: When Marianne plays the piano, Lady Middleton pretends to be listening, but she keeps asking Marianne to play songs she just played.
Hypocrites 7: Marianne bristles at Elinor's criticism. She cannot make stupid small talk when it is not her desire to do so, or when her companion demands more.
Hypocrites 8: At dances, Marianne and Willoughby dance only with each other. They ignore everyone else, because to them, when they only want to be with each other, to visit with anyone else would be dishonest.
Hypocrites 9: Elinor scolds Marianne for going off alone with Willoughby, which is very improper conduct. Marianne tells Elinor that the trip was completely innocent; had there been anything wrong with it, she would have felt it, and would not have been able to enjoy herself.
Hypocrites 10: Edward can only speak honestly about the landscape. Where he feels he has no knowledge or feeling, he is silent.
Hypocrites 11: When the Steele girls gush about how wonderful Lady Middleton is, Marianne must keep silent, because "it was impossible for her to say what she did not feel, however trivial the occasion; and upon Elinor therefore the whole task of telling lies when politeness required it, always fell." Chapter 21, pg. 104
Hypocrites 12: The Steele girls flatter Lady Middleton and her children excessively, even when the children are being brats.
Hypocrites 13: Elinor wants some time alone with Lucy so they may talk. To get it, she tells Lady Middleton how much she would like to help Lucy work on a gift for the Lady's daughter, and how much she would enjoy the work. Both of which are untrue, but Elinor knows such talk can often do no harm and all good. Marianne could never have said such untrue things, even to get something she wanted terribly.
Hypocrites 14: When Elinor tells Marianne that the best thing she can do to those who offend or dislike her, is keep her spirits up as though all were fine, Marianne tells her that is impossible. Her self-respect is nothing in the face of her sorrow over the loss of Willoughby.
Hypocrites 15: John thinks Elinor and the Colonel will get married. He stresses how good that would be, and how Fanny especially wants to see Elinor settled well. But Elinor knows that Fanny and John would only be glad that she was not marrying Edward.
Hypocrites 16: During a very dull conversation, Fanny brings out her child, and the whole party debates if her or Lady Middleton's child is taller. Lucy so wants to be liked by both, that she falls all over herself trying to flatter each mother. Elinor answers honestly, as does Marianne, who honestly does not care.
Hypocrites 17: It is very clear that Mrs. Ferrars does not like Elinor, because she believes she has some relationship with Edward. She is excited to see some drawings that the family is passing around, but once she knows they are done by Elinor, she does not even want to look at them.
Hypocrites 18: Lady Middleton does not like Elinor and Marianne because they do not flatter her or her children, as the Steele girls do.
Hypocrites 19: John thinks of inviting his sisters to stay with him because a friend assumes they are his guests already. John, more concerned with appearing proper than with the well being of his sisters, asks Fanny if they should invite them.
Fanny, who does not like the Dashwood girls, tells John she already wanted to invite the Steeles. She makes every excuse so that she will not look bad for not inviting her relations.
Hypocrites 20: Mrs. Jennings tells John that if Edward had acted against his feelings, and given up Lucy, she would have no respect for him. John would see such an action not as dishonest, but as protection, to ensure his fortune.
Hypocrites 21: Lucy writes in her letter that she asked Edward to end the engagement because of their small chance for happiness (now that Edward has been disinherited), but that Edward refused. Elinor knows this is untrue; Ann told her she overheard the same conversation, but in the opposite. Edward, who now had nothing, asked Lucy to end the engagement, and she refused.
Hypocrites 22: Lucy was very happy to learn about the Colonel's offer of the parsonage:
"As for Colonel Brandon, she was not only ready to worship him as a saint, but was moreover truly anxious that he should be treated as one in all worldly concerns; anxious that his tythes should be raised to the utmost; and secretly resolved to avail herself, at Delaford, as for as she possibly could, of his servants, his carriage, his cows, and his poultry." Chapter 41, pg. 248
Lucy cannot restrain herself from her selfish interests even toward someone who has just helped her out.
Hypocrites 23: John tries to assure Elinor that Mrs. Ferrars cares very much for her disinherited son, and that his marriage will hurt her deeply. Elinor does not understand, because Mrs. Ferrars behavior does not match the deep emotion John claims she feels. To disown a son, and then still care what happens to him, seems hypocritical to Elinor.
Hypocrites 24: Robert suggests to Elinor that if he had only known of the match ahead of time, he would have tried to stop it. This is unlikely, because if he stopped it, he would not be passed Edward's fortune. Edward relates later that he sent Robert to Lucy to try and persuade her to end the engagement, and he did not do that very well--instead Robert ended up marrying her himself.
Hypocrites 25: Edward shows Elinor Lucy's final letter, which says in part: "...I scorn to accept a hand while the heart was another's. Sincerely wish you happy in your choice, and it shall not be my fault if we are not always good friends..." Chapter 49, pg. 309 Lucy had taken Elinor into her confidence to stake her claim to Edward, and discourage Elinor. Also, her incomplete message to the Dashwood servant, which lead them to believe she had married Edward, does not show much happiness or good will towards Elinor, his "choice." Jealous and cruel to the end, Lucy hides her hypocrisy behind shallow good manners.
Hypocrites 26: When Mrs. Ferrars visits Edward and Elinor, she pretends to be happy and affectionate, but her favorites are still Robert and Lucy, who flatter her endlessly.
Money 1: Mr. Henry Dashwood is very concerned about his daughter's income, knowing that without the money from Norland, the girls will have a hard time marrying.
Money 2: Fanny Dashwood works hard to convince her husband he owes his stepmother and stepsisters nothing. Part of her case is: "that when the money is once parted with, it never can return. Your sisters will marry, and it will be gone for ever." Chapter 2, pg. 8 Once women marry, their income transfers to their husband, none of it staying in the family. This makes a gift of money an unacceptable one for the greedy Fanny.
Money 3: When John suggests they pay Mrs. Dashwood an annuity, or yearly sum, Fanny strongly disagrees. Her point of disagreement rests on the idea that an annuity is fine if Mrs. Dashwood dies soon, but with their luck she will live for twenty or more years. Fanny believes such a yearly payment would take away her family's monetary independence.
When Fanny convinces John to give the Dashwood women nothing but the occasional present, she comments happily on how cheap and comfortable the Dashwood women will live, with hardly any common conveniences such as carriages or house guests. She even suggests the Dashwoods should give John some money.
Money 4: Fanny disapproves of Elinor and Edward because to her family (and to most families), the person one marries should be of the same or (even better) higher income than yourself.
Money 5: Mrs. Dashwood has hope John will fulfill his promise, but all he does is talk about how little money he has, hoping to discourage any requests from the girls.
Money 6: Willoughby had a good income, but his lifestyle so exceeded it that Elinor thinks lack of money might be why he and Marianne are keeping their engagement a secret.
Money 7: Again, a small fortune is blamed for the troubles of two lovers. To many, Marianne's small fortune makes her an unacceptable match for Willoughby.
Money 8: Marianne does not like to see money as a part of happiness, but she says that you need several thousand pounds to have a good income.
The girls imagine what they would do if someone gave them a large fortune. Their long and passionate discussion indicates how important money really is to them.
Money 9: Edward and Lucy suspect that his family would disapprove of their marriage because she has so little money.
Lucy suggests to Elinor that the fear of Edward losing all his money if they were to hurry marriage, keeps her from taking action.
Money 10: They learn that Miss Grey, the woman to whom Willoughby is engaged, is worth fifty thousand pounds. The Colonel sees this as an explanation for Willoughby's behavior towards Marianne.
Money 11: Again, money keeps lovers apart. The Colonel loved Eliza, but he was not the eldest son. The eldest son will inherit the family estate, and the estate was deeply in debt. Therefore, the Colonel's father wanted Eliza to marry the Colonel's older brother, even though she and the Colonel loved each other; the brother had no feelings for her.
Money 12: When Elinor mentions how good the Middletons have treated them, John is not surprised. They are rich, so they should take good care of them. He then throws in how settled they must be, needing nothing.
John treats people based on their wealth. When the Colonel comes into Mrs. Jennings', John is ready to be nice to him, as soon as he finds out about his large fortune.
Money 13: John tells Elinor the Ferrars have chosen a very good woman for Edward-Miss Morton, who is very wealthy.
Money 14: John complains to Elinor that he and Fanny have very little money. He has just bought the neighboring farm, and is making many improvements to Norland.
Not wanting for money, these comments are meant to make his situation seem poor so that Elinor will not be tempted to ask for money, nor John feel bad for not offering any.
John tells Elinor that he expects Mrs. Jennings will leave much of her money to Elinor and Marianne when she dies. Elinor tells him this is unlikely, but John seems very set on the idea.
John now expects Elinor will marry the Colonel; he is very happy about this, because the Colonel has a lot of money. Because John does so little for his sisters, he is very anxious for other people to do as much as possible.
Money 15: John visited Mrs. Jennings alone, and he reveals why Fanny did not come along:
"for we only knew that Mrs. Jennings was the widow of a man, who had got all his money in a low way; and Fanny and Mrs. Ferrars were both strongly prepossessed that neither she nor her daughters were such kind of women as Fanny would like to associate with. But now I can carry her a most satisfactory account of both." Chapter 33, pg. 193
Money 16: Despite how close Fanny has grown to Lucy, treating her as a well-liked family member, she cannot approve of her marrying Edward. Her small fortune is most important to Fanny.
Money 17: Mrs. Jennings cannot understand all the fuss over a person's fortune. Having been married to a rich man, but of a lower class, she believes that if people are good and love each other, they should be able to marry, despite their differences.
Money 18: John cannot imagine a fate worse than having money, as Edward did, and then losing it. To see your younger brother have your fortune must be terrible, he comments. This attitude is not surprising, in light of how little John helped his stepsisters after their father's death.
Money 19: The parsonage the Colonel offers is too small to allow Edward to marry, as its income could not support a family. The Colonel, who is very well off, does not understand how someone could live comfortably with so little money.
Money 20: John, so stingy and selfish himself, cannot understand how or why the Colonel would give something away, and to a near stranger. All he can think to do is calculate how much money the Colonel lost by doing the favor, and shake his head in disbelief.
Money 21: Willoughby, though he had feelings for Marianne, could not act properly on them because he was more concerned about money, and marrying rich. He also refused to marry Miss Williams for this same reason. He refused a woman he loved, and dishonored one he should have married, for the same reason--fear of being poor.
Money 22: Willoughby was so afraid of losing his rich fiancée, that he did whatever she demanded. This included his devastatingly cold letter to Marianne.
Money 23: Elinor, who pities "poor Willoughby," thinks:
"The world had made him extravagant and vain--Extravagance and vanity had made him cold-hearted and selfish. Vanity, while seeking its own guilty triumph at the expense of another, had involved him in a real attachment, which extravagance, or at least its offspring necessity, had required to be sacrificed. Each faulty propensity in leading him to evil, had led him likewise to punishment." Chapter 44, pg. 281
The blame, shifted somewhat, is still his; but he can be forgiven because of how unhappy his bad actions have made him.
Money 24: Elinor does not think that love is enough to marry upon. She imagines that if Marianne and Willoughby had married, their weak finances would have so stressed the marriage, that it would not have been happy, or perhaps even lasted. Love appears to be everything when you have money, but Elinor believes Willoughby's love for Marianne would disintegrate if he were to become poor.
Money 25: In the end, Mrs. Ferrars forgives Edward and gives he and Elinor some money, enough to allow their marriage and make them comfortable. Robert remains the favorite, though, and keeps the estate he received when his brother was disowned for being engaged to Lucy.
Romance 1: Mrs. Dashwood sees no difficulty in a marriage between two of different incomes. She believes that money should never keep lovers from being together.
Romance 2: For Marianne, a lover must be passionate and emotional. When Edward reads Cowper, Marianne's favorite poet, with so little excitement, he is fixed as a lackluster lover in her mind.
Romance 3: Though Marianne seems certain of Edward's affection for Elinor, Elinor needs proof before she will get carried away.
Marianne cannot understand such a reserved attitude, and becomes greatly disturbed when Elinor says, "I think very highly of him--that I greatly esteem him." Chapter 4, pg. 17
Elinor holds back partly because of Edward's mother, on whom Edward's future, including any marriage, depends. Such practical considerations are foreign to Marianne.
Romance 4: Marianne makes a tearful and excessive goodbye to Norland, in which she speaks to the house and land like it is a person, regretting how the leaves will fall without her.
Romance 5: Marianne is especially shocked at Mrs. Jennings' jokes about lovers and husbands, which she sees as vulgar, an adjective she wants nowhere near romance.
Romance 6: Marianne imagines that a man of Colonel Brandon's age can no longer feel deeply or enjoy the arts, and therefore cannot be a lover.
Romance 7: Marianne again says that a man of Colonel Brandon's age is to old to love, and that a woman of twenty-seven is also too old to make someone love her.
Romance 8: In their first meeting, Willoughby acts as Marianne's "knight in shining armor," carrying her home in his arms.
Romance 9: Marianne, who is falling in love with Willoughby, is interested only in the qualities which would make him a suitable lover. Sir John, not surprisingly, cannot offer her much information on this topic.
Romance 10: Colonel Brandon has little hope against the dashing young Willoughby. Though Elinor likes and respects the Colonel, Willoughby is much more Marianne's taste.
Romance 11: In defending the Colonel, Elinor remarks that a "sensible" man is very attractive to her. To Marianne, reason has nothing to do with a lover.
Romance 12: Marianne is against all second attachments. She believes love is so strong that people can only be in love once. She does not seem to remember that she was born of her father's second marriage.
Romance 13: Marianne believes that it does not take a long time to become intimate with a person. If they have the right personality, it can happen in moments.
Romance 14: Willoughby eloquently expresses his love for the Cottage, and how it must never be changed, because something very special has touched his heart within its walls.
Romance 15: Mrs. Dashwood, a big romantic, believes asking Marianne any practical questions about the engagement would be unkind, and out of character.
Romance 16: Both Elinor and Marianne are troubled by Edward's cold and reserved manner, which is not the behavior of a lover.
Romance 17: Marianne feels very sorry for Elinor, because Edward does not go off in raptures about the hills of Barton.
Romance 18: To wear such a ring was a sign of great affection, and Elinor cannot imagine whose hair it could be but hers.
Romance 19: Elinor is critical of Mr. Palmer, whose rude behavior seems to stem from his silly and annoying wife. Elinor thinks to herself that most men are married to the same kind of woman, and that he should get over it.
Romance 20: The capacity to love which Marianne cannot imagine in the Colonel, he describes in his relationship with Eliza. Their elopement failed, and after she was forced to marry his brother, the Colonel went away so he would not have to see her. But his love for her outlasted their time apart, her divorce from his brother, and as it would seem, her death as well.
Romance 21: Elinor, though she sees the appeal of one true love, realizes that this is impossible. Marianne remarks how such a belief must help her to handle the loss of Edward. Nothing about him or his character makes her want him less, but there is nothing she can do now but live her life and get over it.
Romance 22: Marianne has difficulty leaving Mrs. Jennings' in London; it is where she last believed in Willoughby's love for her.
Romance 23: Willoughby, whom Marianne loved so passionately and completely, is revealed to care little about love. He gave up his love in exchange for money, and his heart did not break, nor did he die, without her.
Romance 24: During their long and nervous carriage ride, the Colonel told Mrs. Dashwood he loved Marianne. But he does not hold out much hope for her to return his love. Having been so much in love with Willoughby, and being so different in age and personality, he does not think it likely. Mrs. Dashwood does not believe this, though Elinor thinks it probable.
Romance 25: Favoring practicality over singular passion, Elinor and Edward "...were neither of them quite enough in love to think that three hundred and fifty pounds-a-year would supply them with the comforts of life." Chapter 49, pg. 313
Romance 26: Marianne, once so opposed to second attachments, gives her love completely to the Colonel. Her wild romantic ideas about passion and the one true love are quieted, and she is a good and loving wife.
Romance 27: Unlike the typical romantic character, Willoughby does not shrivel up and die when his love marries another. He goes on, his life not without pleasure.
For years the Dashwood family has lived on the Norland Estate in Sussex, the south-east region of England. The property most recently was occupied by the uncle of Mr. Henry Dashwood. This uncle, being single and alone, had asked Mr. Dashwood and his family to come live with him. They did, and were treated well.
Mr. Henry Dashwood had one son by his first marriage. The son's mother had deceased. By his second marriage, he had three daughters. His son had become very wealthy from his mother's inheritance and from his wife's large fortune. Mr. Henry Dashwood, unlike his first wife, had only a small fortune to give his daughters, until he inherited the estate upon his uncle's death. However, the uncle declared that Norland would ultimately be the property of the John Dashwood family, Henry's young son who had charmed the uncle during his visits there.
Topic Tracking: Money 1
Only a year after the death of Henry's uncle, Mr. Henry Dashwood died, leaving his wife and children with only a small fortune. Before dying, he made John promise to look after his stepmother and stepsisters. The idea of helping them made John feel very good inside. Caring more about herself than the Dashwoods' grief, his wife moves her family into Norland immediately after the funeral. Unhappy with this new arrangement, the Dashwood women stay at Norland only at the eldest daughter's urging, so as to avoid a family rift.
Elinor is the eldest daughter. Expressive and loving, but also disciplined, she surpasses her mother and younger sisters in her ability to manage her emotions. Marianne, the middle sister, shares Elinor's kind and caring nature, but acts only with her emotions, making her very honest but also impulsive and vulnerable. Their mother most resembles Marianne. Margaret, the youngest girl, acts mostly like Marianne, but without much of her understanding.
The Dashwood women now find themselves guests in their own home. Though they are treated tolerably, they are still uncomfortable, and decide to find a new home. On the subject of John's gift to his sisters, his wife Fanny is unmoved. Being only half sisters, she insists their little boy deserves the inherited money more:
"And what possible claim could the Dashwoods, who were related to him only by half blood, which she considered no relationship at all, have on his generosity to so large an amount? It was very well known, that no affection was ever supposed to exist between the children of any man by different marriages; and why was he to ruin himself, and their poor little Harry, by giving away all his money to his half sisters?" Chapter 2, pg. 7
Topic Tracking: Money 2
When John insists it was his father's last request, Fanny suggests his father was delirious, and since he never specified an amount, John need not give them money at all. At Fanny's insistence, John slowly reduces the sum, until settling on the idea of an annuity for Mrs. Dashwood. This is also unacceptable to Fanny, who finally convinces John to give the Dashwood women nothing except for the occasional present. Fanny states that the Dashwood women will be well off, especially with the china and linen they inherited: "Yes; and the set of breakfast china is twice as handsome as what belongs to this house. A great deal too handsome, in my opinion, for any place they can ever afford to live in." Chapter 2, pg. 11
Topic Tracking: Money 3
Topic Tracking: Hypocrites 1
The Dashwood women continue looking for an affordable house in the neighborhood surrounding Norland. On their small income this is difficult. Mrs. Dashwood knows of her step-son's promise, and is still hopeful he will help them. Their existence at Norland improves upon meeting Edward Ferrars, Fanny's brother. A kind gentleman, shy and modest, Edward is the family's eldest son, and likely to become wealthy from this family position. His family has high hopes for him, but Edward does not want greatness.
Topic Tracking: Romance 1
After several weeks of being in the same house, Edward and Elinor begin to talk. Elinor, Marianne, and her mother find Edward very agreeable. Her mother expects Elinor and Edward to be married, though Elinor believes this an exaggeration. Marianne thinks Edward is nice but too dull and uncultured to make a good match for Elinor. His emotionless reading of Cowper, her favorite poet, makes him in Marianne's mind, an unsatisfactory lover.
Topic Tracking: Romance 2
Marianne feels sorry for Elinor, because Edward has no taste for drawing. Elinor defends Edward against what she sees as a silly criticism, though to Marianne such matters are very important. She praises Edward both for his intellect and for his imagination. But Elinor will not confirm Marianne's expectation that Edward will soon be a member of their family. When she speaks of her affection for Edward, in a quiet manner, Marianne becomes offended. Elinor believes Edward has feelings for her, but because of their different incomes, she chooses to be cautious.
Topic Tracking: Hypocrites 2
Topic Tracking: Romance 3
When Fanny begins to guess about Elinor and Edward, she makes it a point to mention to Elinor's mother how wealthy Edward will be, and how important it is for him to marry well. Elinor's small fortune makes her an unsuitable match for Edward, and Fanny wants to make sure Elinor doesn't think that her family position will excuse her poverty.
Topic Tracking: Money 3
Mrs. Dashwood receives a letter from a distant relation living at Barton Park, who offers her Barton Cottage as a residence. The property is in Devonshire, but Sir John Middleton's letter was so friendly and the situation at Norland so tense, that the Dashwood women decide to move to Barton. Though it meant leaving Edward, for whom she cares, Elinor cannot object to their removing themselves from Fanny and John, and to a house suited to their income.
Not having enjoyed being their guests, Mrs. Dashwood takes pleasure in announcing to John and Fanny her new and distant home. Only John has any strong reaction, for now his much-reduced promise to his father will be even harder to carry out, with his sisters living so far away.
The Dashwoods pack and send their things to Barton Cottage. They sell their carriage and keep only three of their servants. Mrs. Dashwood believes this to be the time for John to fulfill his promise, but he does nothing.
Topic Tracking: Money 5
Topic Tracking: Hypocrites 3
After a tearful goodbye to Norland, they depart.
Topic Tracking: Romance 4
Their journey is sad, but they soon become excited to see their new home. The cottage is cozy and attractive, there is a lovely garden, and the surrounding hills are wide and beautiful.
Topic Tracking: Hypocrites 4
Sir John Middleton comes to visit them, and offers anything he can to make them comfortable. His wife, Lady Middleton, invites them to her house. Young and handsome, Lady Middleton is friendly but not warm, and seems capable only of small talk. But Sir John is very talkative, and when Lady Middleton brings out her child, they are amply occupied with entertainment for their visit.
Lacking in taste and limited in interests, the Middletons do not make the perfect friends for the Dashwood women. Hunting is Sir John's interest, and Lady Middleton is a mother. Both are very interested in social gatherings, but do not offer much good conversation.
Topic Tracking: Hypocrites 5
Sir John apologizes to Elinor and Marianne for the lack of young men around, and promises to get them more friends soon. Mrs. Jennings, Lady Middleton's mother, joins their party, and livens things up. Boisterous and a bit vulgar, she enjoys teasing the girls about their loves, or the loves she imagines they have.
Topic Tracking: Romance 5
Colonel Brandon, an older friend of the Middleton's, also arrives. An old bachelor, he was much quieter than his friend Sir John. Of their group, the narrator remarks: "There was nothing in the party which could recommend them as companions to the Dashwoods; but the cold insipidity of Lady Middleton was so particularly repulsive, that in comparison of it the gravity of Colonel Brandon, and even the boisterous mirth of Sir John and his mother-in-law was interesting." Chapter 7, pg. 30
After dinner Marianne is invited to play the pianoforte. She plays beautifully, but Lady Middleton is easily distracted. Colonel Brandon listens with a quiet respect Marianne finds admirable.
Topic Tracking: Hypocrites 6
Topic Tracking: Romance 6
Mrs. Jennings has two daughters, and with both of them married, she turns her match-making skills upon Elinor and Marianne. She announces to everyone her belief that Colonel Brandon is in love with Marianne. A perfect match, "for he was rich, and she was handsome." Chapter 8, pg. 32 Marianne finds this attention mortifying, as she thinks the Colonel, who is thirty-five and talks of flannel waistcoats, is too old to be a lover. Elinor jokes that if the Colonel were feverish instead of arthritic, Marianne would be in love.
Topic Tracking: Romance 7
When Elinor leaves the room, Mrs. Dashwood and Marianne discuss when Edward will visit. Marianne does not understand the cool behavior between two who are supposed to be in love, nor can she comprehend Elinor's pleasant attitude when her love is absent.
The Dashwoods are now well settled at the Cottage. During a walk in the valley of Allenham, the girls see a beautiful mansion, but the old woman who lives there is too ill for company. These hills are wonderful for walks, and one day when Marianne and Margaret are out, they take a long walk. After some distance it begins to rain, and the girls start running home down a hill. Marianne falls and twists her ankle. A gentlemen walking on a nearby hill sees what happened and comes over to aid Marianne. He takes her in his arms and carries her home. Elinor and Mrs. Dashwood are shocked, both by Marianne's accident, and also by this attractive and dashing young man, by the name of Willoughby. He lives at Allenham, and promises to check on Marianne tomorrow. Then he departs, in the rain.
Topic Tracking: Romance 8
When Sir John comes by the next day, he tells them what little he knows about Willoughby, who he believes to be a very good catch. Sir John pities Colonel Brandon, who now has a serious rival for Marianne.
Topic Tracking: Romance 9
Willoughby comes by Barton Cottage early the next morning. Though both the Miss Dashwoods are attractive, it is Marianne whom he finds more so, both in face and in spirit. They discover their shared passion for music, dance, and literature. He too likes the romantic poets, Cowper and Scott, more than the cerebral Pope.
Topic Tracking: Romance 10
Elinor scolds Marianne for her long and impassioned conversation with Willoughby. Elinor wishes they would learn about each other more gradually, but Marianne can only act in accordance with how she feels and what is true.
Topic Tracking: Hypocrites 7
Willoughby's visits continue and become more frequent, with he and Marianne reading, singing, and talking together quite often. Though pleasant and lively, Elinor cannot help but be concerned:
"In hastily forming and giving his opinion of other people, in sacrificing general politeness to the enjoyment of undivided attention where his heart is engaged, and in slighting too easily the forms of worldly propriety, he displayed a want of caution which Elinor could not approve..." Chapter 10, pg. 43
Marianne, on the other hand, is falling in love with Willoughby, and thinks him perfect. Her mother begins to expect they will marry. Elinor feels sympathy for Colonel Brandon, who seems to have lost any chance of love with her sister. To make matters worse, Willoughby speaks badly of the Colonel, and Marianne joins in, though the Colonel has been nothing but nice to her. Only Elinor defends the Colonel; but what to her are good qualities, make him dull to Marianne and Willoughby.
Topic Tracking: Romance 11
After Marianne recovers from her sprained ankle, Sir John starts to throw many parties and dances, during which Marianne spends all her time with Willoughby. But Elinor is not happy. It is hard to see her sister so in love, when Edward has been so long absent. She also misses intelligent conversation, though finds the Colonel to be a consolation.
Topic Tracking: Hypocrites 8
A quiet man, Elinor believes the Colonel to be suffering from a long-broken heart. His curiosity about Marianne's disapproval of second attachments leads Elinor to believe he was attached previously. In critiquing Marianne's opinion, the Colonel mentions a young woman he knew who was much like Marianne, but he stops suddenly. This raises Elinor's curiosity, but she does not pursue it.
Topic Tracking: Romance 12
Elinor learns from Marianne that Willoughby has given her a horse which he bred on his estate in Somersetshire. This large and expensive present is very impulsive and inappropriate. The Dashwoods do not have the money to care for a horse, and Elinor reprimands Marianne, suggesting the present is improper. Marianne is insulted by this criticism of Willoughby, and insists the gift is completely innocent. Elinor can only persuade Marianne to give up the horse by convincing her of how much stress its' care would place upon their mother.
Topic Tracking: Romance 13
Elinor no longer doubts Willoughby and Marianne to be engaged, and this is further confirmed when Margaret tells her how she saw Willoughby beg a lock of hair from Marianne, and that Marianne agreed. Margaret next lets slip to Mrs. Jennings that the name of Elinor's beaux begins with an F, and Mrs. Jennings uses this as an opportunity to tease Elinor.
Despite the fact that the weather was cool, the group decides to journey the next day to the estate of Colonel Brandon's brother-in-law, for a day of fun.
During breakfast before their trip to Whitwell, the Colonel receives a letter containing business to which he must attend immediately in London. Everyone is disappointed, and tries to convince him not to go. Elinor hears Willoughby suggest that the Colonel wrote the letter, so as to avoid the party. She does not understand why Willoughby dislikes the Colonel so much. Mrs. Jennings is very curious about what the Colonel must do in London, as the Colonel himself will not say. She imagines it has something to do with Miss Williams, who she says is the Colonel's daughter.
In place of the trip to Whitwell, the group decides to go out for a drive in their carriages. Willoughby and Marianne go out alone, riding very fast, disappearing from view. At dinner, Mrs. Jennings says she knows where the two went--to Allenham, to visit the house she imagines will be Marianne's, once the two wed. Elinor is shocked at this behavior, especially when she learns that Mrs. Smith was not there during the visit. Marianne denies that she acted recklessly. Nonetheless, Elinor is concerned about her sister's reputation. Unconcerned, Marianne's interest lies only in describing the house to Elinor in every detail.
Topic Tracking: Hypocrites 9
Mrs. Jennings continues to guess about what took the Colonel away in such a hurry. Elinor is not interested, though she is curious why Marianne and Willoughby are so quiet about a topic they usually comment upon quite freely. Elinor also wonders at their secrecy about their relationship, and guesses it may be because of their mismatched incomes.
Topic Tracking: Money 6
Topic Tracking: Romance 14
During a visit to Lady Middleton's the next day, Marianne creates an excuse so she can stay at home. Mrs. Dashwood expects Willoughby will visit while they are out, and this is fine with her. They return to see Marianne crying, and running up the stairs. Willoughby is downstairs, and admits it is he who caused her sadness, because he has to leave Devonshire, and does not expect to be back for many months. Though Mrs. Dashwood invites him to visit their cottage, he denies this possibility, and leaves in a hurry.
All are concerned at this sudden change in Willoughby's behavior, and guess at the cause of his leaving. Mrs. Dashwood believes that Mrs. Smith learned about Willoughby's regard for Marianne, and not approving, sent him away. She believes Willoughby is engaged to Marianne, but unsure of how to tell his benefactress; he has instead followed her orders to leave. Elinor accepts this scenario, but with some suspicion at behavior so out of character. Elinor does not doubt their affection for each other, but she does doubt their engagement, and that is what makes her nervous. Her mother is convinced both of the engagement and of Willoughby's good character, and she scolds Elinor for her suspicion.
Topic Tracking: Money 7
When Marianne comes down for dinner, it is clear she has been crying. Just the mention of Willoughby's name sends her into tears.
Marianne does not allow herself to sleep the first night after Willoughby's departure, and cries through most of it. She spends the day wandering around Allenham, and the evening playing her and Willoughby's favorite songs. Her grief was powerful, and she indulged it. After a few days, she is completely depressed.
Again the subject of the engagement comes up. Elinor wants her mother to ask Marianne if she is engaged, but Mrs. Dashwood feels that such a question would be insensitive.
Topic Tracking: Romance 15
The Dashwoods keep talk of Willoughby at a minimum, but Mrs. Jennings and Sir John do not. At the mention of their unfinished reading of Hamlet, Marianne moans that it may be months until they will have their Hamlet back.
While walking with Elinor, a man appears on horseback. Marianne thinks he is Willoughby, but she is deeply disappointed to see that it is Edward Ferrars. She is still happy to see him, though she finds him too reserved in his behavior toward Elinor. Also, when she asks him to comment on the hills of Barton Valley, she thinks his description is boring and unenthusiastic. And Elinor, though she does not show it, is also confused and angered by his cold manner, which she did not expect from someone who she thought loved her.
Topic Tracking: Romance 16
The girls bring Edward in to visit with Mrs. Dashwood, who is happily surprised to see him.
Though polite, they all notice that he seems down. Edward's mother, Mrs. Ferrars, is determined for Edward to be famous and powerful, but Edward wants none of it. When the Dashwoods ask him what he will do, he answers that he has no taste for public life or profession. He mentions only wanting happiness, and Elinor comments on the connection between wealth and happiness, which greatly offends Marianne. All the girls wonder what they would do if someone were to give them a large fortune.
Topic Tracking: Money 8
Edward brings up the idea of second attachments, and asks Marianne if her opinion is the same. She answers, "At my time of life opinions are tolerably fixed. It is not likely that I should now see or hear anything to change them." Chapter 17, pg. 81 They discuss Marianne and Edward's dispositions; Marianne remarks how reserved Edward acts, which makes him even more uncomfortable. He seems to know his behavior is not right, but he does nothing to correct it.
Elinor worries over Edward's mood. When Marianne tries to leave Elinor and Edward alone during breakfast so they may talk, Edward leaves, instead of taking this opportunity to be alone with Elinor. He is not acting at all like a lover. When he returns, he compliments the hills and landscape of Barton Valley, but Marianne still finds his description faulty. Elinor chooses to compliment Edward for speaking without pretension and from his heart. Marianne feels sorry for her sister; she has an unpoetic beaux.
Topic Tracking: Hypocrites 10
Topic Tracking: Romance 17
During tea, Mrs. Dashwood notices a ring Edward is wearing. In the current style, it is set with a woman's hair, which Edward awkwardly says is his sister's. Elinor sees it and imagines it to be her own, though she does not know when Edward could have taken a lock of her hair.
Topic Tracking: Romance 18
Mrs. Jennings and Sir John come over that afternoon, and are eager to hear that Edward's last name begins with an F, the letter Margaret mentioned in regard to Elinor's beaux.
Edward stayed a week at the cottage. Elinor attributed his poor spirits to his family situation, with his mother controlling both him and his fortune. Edward wants to take orders in the church, but that is not good enough for his family; they expect him to be a lawyer or army officer, both of which did not suit him. Edward leaves Barton in the same sad mood in which he came.
Elinor was calm at Edward's departure; there were no tears and she could speak his name with ease. This behavior puzzled Marianne, who was acting quite differently in the absence of her love, Willoughby. Soon after Edward leaves the Middletons, two new guests, Mr. Palmer, and his pregnant wife Charlotte, Mrs. Jenning's daughter, are brought over. Mrs. Palmer is an excessively happy woman, while her husband is a quiet but rude man who likes to ignore his wife; Mrs. Palmer finds this funny.
The Middletons invite the Dashwoods to dinner, and they are unable to refuse. Marianne complains about the burden of attending all these boring parties, but Elinor reminds her that a few weeks ago, when the company was different, Marianne had no complaint about the Middletons and their parties. Marianne can only stand these parties if Willoughby is there.
The Dashwoods visit at Barton Park the next day. Mrs. Palmer invites the girls to spend time with them at Cleveland this winter, but they decline. Elinor asks Mrs. Palmer, who lives in the same county as Combe Magna, if she knows much about Willoughby. She knows little, but knows about his engagement to Marianne, which Elinor confesses she and her mother are unsure of. People with a love of gossip do not need much encouragement to believe something as true, and Mrs. Palmer has no proof of the engagement other than what she conjured from the world around her.
Topic Tracking: Romance 20
Soon after the Palmers leave Barton, two young relations of Mrs. Jennings arrive. In their teens, the girls are fashionable, but the eldest, Ann Steele, is vulgar and annoying, and the younger, Lucy, is shrewd but not intelligent. The two indulge Lady Middleton's children, and flatter Lady Middleton beyond reason. Elinor and Marianne do not like them, finding them phony and without class.
Topic Tracking: Hypocrites 11
When the subject of beaux come up, Ann Steele asks Elinor a rather impolite question about her brother, and Sir John tells the Steele girls that the name of Elinor's beaux is Ferrars. Elinor is very embarrassed, because she does not want anyone to know about Edward, especially when they have not discussed anything, and his behavior has been so strange.
Marianne especially objects to spending time with the Steeles. The improper comments of the eldest are offensive, and Lucy's lack of education makes her an object of pity.
Topic Tracking: Hypocrites 12
The Dashwoods still find themselves often in the Steele's presence, and during a walk, Lucy inquires about Mrs. Ferrars, Fanny's mother. Elinor is surprised at such a question. Lucy then tells her that Mrs. Ferrars may soon be very important to her happiness. Elinor asks Lucy if she is attached to Robert Ferrars, who is Edward's brother. Lucy then tells her that no, it is Edward Ferrars to whom she is attached. Disbelieving that her Edward could be anything but hers, Elinor carefully controls her emotions.
Lucy's engagement to Edward is a secret, one which no one but Anne knows. They became engaged when Edward was under her uncle, Mr. Pratt's care, at their home in Longstaple, and the engagement has lasted four years. Elinor is still doubtful, but then Lucy produces a small painting of Edward from her pocket.
Lucy tells Elinor the engagement has been kept a secret because of Edward's mother, who she fears will disapprove of the match. Lucy last saw Edward right before he visited Barton Cottage, and Lucy explains his poor spirits as sadness at his having left her. She then produces from her pocket a letter from Edward, and Elinor recognizes his handwriting. It was difficult now for Elinor to doubt Lucy's claims, and she tries to control her emotions. Lucy laments Edward's absence, and tells Elinor of the ring she gave to him just before he left her, a ring set with her hair. Confused, Elinor remembers Edward's sadness at Barton, and the ring on his finger. With all this proof, she does not know what to think about her Edward.
The two finally reach the cottage, and thankfully for Elinor, they must close the subject.
Elinor thinks over what she has learned from Lucy. Though she believes Lucy, who has offered much proof, Elinor cannot doubt that Edward has feelings for her. Feeling sorry first for herself, Elinor quickly swells with sympathy for Edward, and the pain he must be going through. Doomed to unhappiness with Lucy, Elinor can forgive his misleading and hurtful treatment of her, because she knows his fate will be much worse than hers. She believes that his love belongs to her, and that Lucy was jealous of this, and therefore brought Elinor into her confidence to discourage her.
Elinor decides to keep her knowledge from her family, both because she promised Lucy, and also to spare her family the pain. Though disliking her company, Elinor is curious and hopes to gain more information from Lucy, and takes every opportunity so that they may meet and be able to talk in private. This finally happens several days later at the Middletons. When everyone else goes to play cards, Lucy stays behind to work on a gift for Lady Middleton's daughter. Marianne plays piano, and Elinor offers to help Lucy with her work.
Topic Tracking: Hypocrites 13
Lucy tells Elinor she is happy that Elinor is not angry with her: "'And yet I do assure you,' replied Lucy, her sharp little eyes full of meaning, 'there seemed to me a coldness and displeasure in your manner, that made me quite uncomfortable.'" Chapter 24, pg. 123 Elinor does her best to convince Lucy that she was not offended.
The two discuss Edward's dependence on his mother, and the engagement. Lucy makes many small comments about Edward's love, and how she could tell if she had lost it, which she subtly points at Elinor. Elinor does her best to appear neutral. Lucy tells Elinor about her idea for Edward to work in the church, and she asks Elinor to help Edward get the parsonage at Norland. Elinor agrees, but says she can most likely do little, because Edward's family does not think the church fashionable enough. Their uneasy conversation becomes more so, when Lucy asks Elinor what she thinks about her ending the engagement. After this unpleasant discussion, Elinor goes back to the others:
"[A]nd Elinor sat down to the card-table with the melancholy persuasion that Edward was not only without affection for the person who was to be his wife; but that he had not even the chance of being tolerably happy in marriage, which sincere affection on her side would have given, for self-interest alone could induce a woman to keep a man to an engagement, of which she seemed so thoroughly aware that he was weary." Chapter 24, pg. 127
Topic Tracking: Money 9
The Steeles stayed at Barton Park for the next two months, with Lucy never missing a chance to tell Elinor about a letter she received from Edward, professing his love for her.
Mrs. Jennings, who lives alone, asks Elinor and Marianne to come with her to London this winter. Elinor tries to decline, saying they cannot leave their mother. But Marianne wants to go, in the hopes she may see Willoughby there. Mrs. Dashwood can see how excited Marianne is, and she tells them to go. Elinor is still unsure; her main objection is that Mrs. Jenning's lower class status will not allow them in the proper circles in London. But since they will likely visit often with Lady Middleton, who is of a high class, Mrs. Dashwood sees no harm, and Elinor and Marianne prepare to leave.
They travel to London, Marianne in ecstasy at the thought of seeing Willoughby, Elinor apprehensive at the thought of running into Edward. Marianne spends the long carriage ride to London deep in her own thoughts, leaving Elinor to make continuous small talk with Mrs. Jennings. Once they arrive, Elinor writes to their mother, Marianne to Willoughby. When they soon receive a visitor, Marianne expects it will be Willoughby, but instead it is Colonel Brandon. Marianne rudely leaves the room, and Elinor does her best to excuse her sister to the Colonel.
Marianne spends the next day constantly waiting and hoping for a visit from Willoughby, or even a letter from him. She receives neither, and spends much of her time pacing back and forth.
Marianne consoles herself with the thought that the weather is nice, and Willoughby may have stayed longer in the country to enjoy the time to hunt. Never has anyone appreciated fine weather more than Marianne, and yet she fervently wishes for frost.
Elinor is reasonably happy with Mrs. Jennings and her friends, and Colonel Brandon offers her a source of intelligent conversation. The Colonel, who "came to look at Marianne and talk to Elinor" Chapter 27, pg.142, watches Marianne with sadness.
When they return from a morning out, they discover Willoughby had stopped by and left his card. Marianne is very upset to have missed him, and does not want to leave the house, in fear of missing him again. When she does unhappily go out to a dance, she learns that Willoughby was invited but did not come.
Elinor, troubled by this uncertain behavior, writes to her mother the next day, asking her mother to question Marianne about this engagement. The Colonel comes by, and asks Elinor if the engagement is certain, his question indicating his intention to court Marianne. Elinor did not know what to tell him about the engagement, but told him that of their affections for each other, she was sure. Elinor feels sorry for the Colonel, who leaves with sadness.
There is still no sight or word from Willoughby during the next several days. Marianne is convinced to go to a party with the group, and Willoughby is there. He is standing with a beautiful woman, and does not come over until he is seen by Marianne. When he does, his behavior is formal and reserved, opposite to how he behaved at Barton. Marianne begs him to tell her what is going on, and why he has not answered her letters. Willoughby seems pained and uncomfortable, makes a few reserved comments which do nothing to answer Marianne's questions, and then leaves. Pale and shaky, Marianne nearly faints. She asks Elinor to go to him, but Elinor insists they get her home, and take care of this tomorrow, in a more private place.
Elinor, certain Marianne and Willoughby must have been engaged, guesses that Willoughby has fallen out of love with her. She could tell from his behavior, that Willoughby knew what he had done, and felt guilty. Elinor is thankful that she still can respect Edward, while Willoughby's behavior greatly damages his character.
The next morning a tearful Marianne writes a letter to Willoughby. By the end of breakfast, she receives a reply. It confirms every fear Elinor held regarding Willoughby's character. Elinor reads the letter, a portion of which states:
"My esteem for your whole family is sincere; but if I have been so unfortunate as to give rise to a belief of more than I felt, or meant to express, I shall reproach myself for not having been more guided in my professions of that esteem. That I should ever have meant more, you will allow to be impossible, when you understand that my affections have been long engaged elsewhere, and it will not be many weeks, I believe, before this engagement is fulfilled." Chapter 29, pg. 154
Willoughby has also returned Marianne's letters and her lock of hair. Elinor is shocked at this dishonorable treatment of her sister. Marianne sobs uncontrollably, and Elinor pleads with her to hold back so as not to injure herself and those who love her. Unknowingly, Marianne cries out: "Happy, happy Elinor, you cannot have an idea of what I suffer." Chapter 29, pg. 156. Elinor tells her she is wrong, but says nothing further.
Marianne then tells her that Willoughby did not break off any engagement. They loved each other, but it was never spoken absolutely, only implied. Marianne shows Elinor her letters to Willoughby, which are informal and affectionate. The tone of Marianne's letters makes Willoughby's seem even more cruel. Marianne cannot admit Willoughby is at fault. She says that because there was no formal engagement, he has broken no promise. She thinks that someone spoke poorly of her, and ruined her in Willoughby's eyes. She cannot accept that Willoughby would treat her so cruelly on his own; she just cannot understand. Unable to hide her grief, Marianne wants to leave as soon as possible, and go home to her mother. Elinor will attempt to arrange it.
Topic Tracking: Hypocrites 14
Mrs. Jennings expresses her concern for Marianne. She has learned, independent of them, of Willoughby's engagement to Miss Grey, a lady with a large fortune. She is as unbelieving and disgusted by his behavior as Elinor. Mrs. Jennings acts kindly towards Marianne, though she often unintentionally comments in a way that stings the sensitive Marianne. Mrs. Jennings is already thinking how good this turn of events will be for the Colonel, whom she believes now has a chance with Marianne.
The Colonel comes by the next day, and asks if what he has heard about Willoughby is true. Hearing that it is, he does not rejoice for his new chance; rather, he feels much sadness for Marianne, who he knows must be greatly troubled. This Miss Grey is very rich, and Elinor now doubts that Willoughby ever had real feelings for her sister. Marianne, though, can believe nothing else. She still looks for anything to excuse such behavior from her true love.
Topic Tracking: Money 10
Marianne does not believe Mrs. Jennings is being compassionate. She insists that all Mrs. Jennings likes is gossip, and she is interested in Marianne because she is a good source of it. Elinor, convinced of Mrs. Jennings' sincere kindness, feels sorry that Marianne comes to her judgments of people so quickly and keeps them so firmly. After breakfast, Mrs. Jennings again unwittingly hurts Marianne, by bringing her a letter which she claims will make Marianne feel much better. Marianne imagines it is from Willoughby, and becomes so excited that she falls hard when she realizes it is from her mother. Marianne blames Mrs. Jennings, thinking her action was a cruel joke rather than a kind act. The letter from Mrs. Dashwood, who knows nothing of what has happened, mentions Willoughby, and how certain she is of their engagement. The letter brings Marianne much sadness, and she wants more than ever to go home to Barton.
The task of writing to their mother and informing her of what has happened falls to Elinor. While writing, the Colonel shows up, and has a long story to tell Elinor.
His story concerns Willoughby. The Colonel tells Elinor that the woman he spoke of at Barton, the one who resembled Marianne, this woman was his first love. Her name was Eliza, an orphan who was under the care of the Colonel's father. He fell in love with her open heart and her passion, and she fell in love with him. But the Colonel's father wanted Eliza to marry the Colonel's older brother, because Eliza was wealthy and the Brandon family estate was in debt. Eliza loved the Colonel, not his brother, and the two of them tried to elope to Scotland, but Eliza's maid betrayed them. The Colonel was sent away, and his father confined Eliza until she would agree to marry the older brother. This brother did not love her, and after they were wed, he treated her poorly. Unable to stand the loveless marriage, she divorced. The Colonel, who had gone to the East Indies in the hope of causing Eliza less pain by his absence, came home to the news of what had happened. Nearly broke, Eliza had taken many lovers, and ended up in a debtor's prison. She was sick, and the Colonel removed her from the prison and took care of her until she died.
Topic Tracking: Money 11
Topic Tracking: Romance 20
Eliza had a three-year-old daughter from one of her many lovers, and the Colonel took on her care. Having no family, he had to send her away to school, and had her visit Delaford often. Miss Williams had moved from school to the care of an older woman, and she asked to go away with one of her friends. They went to Bath, and there she met Willoughby. The two ran off together, he got her pregnant, and then he left her, promising to return, but never did. The letter the Colonel received before their trip to Whitwell had to do with Miss Williams.
The Colonel asks Elinor to tell Marianne whatever she imagines is best; he would never have revealed the story if he did not think it might help for Marianne to hear it, and realize what kind of man she had lost, and how lucky she was compared to Miss Williams. The Colonel and Willoughby had a duel, but nobody was injured. The Colonel then leaves, after having gained even more of Elinor's respect.
To hear the Colonel's story seemed to increase Marianne's respect for the Colonel, and also to increase her grief. "She felt the loss of Willoughby's character yet more heavily than she had felt the loss of his heart." Chapter 32, pg. 179 Mrs. Dashwood received Elinor's letter, and felt all the same surprise and sadness at its contents. Though desiring to see Marianne, Mrs. Dashwood thought she would be better off anywhere than Barton, where everything would probably remind her of Willoughby. So the Dashwood girls remain in town. Elinor knows she will likely not be able to avoid Edward, but she is happy for anything that will save Marianne some pain.
Mrs. Jennings, Lady Middleton, Sir John, Mr. Palmer, and Mrs. Palmer, all avoid Willoughby's name around Marianne, but they speak of him constantly to Elinor when Marianne is not present. They do not imagine that hearing constant talk on this subject might bring Elinor pain, which it does. They all speak poorly of Willoughby, and Mrs. Palmer takes it upon herself to find out everything she can about Miss Grey and the wedding, and then tells it to Elinor. Only Lady Middleton remains blissfully silent on the situation. For once, Elinor appreciates her cold and quiet personality. But she cannot approve of Lady Middleton's decision to leave her card with Miss Grey, as soon as she is married to Willoughby. To Elinor, only the Colonel behaves acceptably.
Two weeks later, Elinor learns that Willoughby and Miss Grey have married, and she tells her sister, whose grief is renewed. Soon after, Lucy and Ann Steele arrive in town. The girls are as awful as Elinor remembered. Ann talks about Dr. Davies, her imagined beau, but nobody cares. Lucy is only concerned about whether Elinor has kept her word, which of course she has. The Steeles speak with the same rudeness, and Elinor is happy when they leave for the night.
Elinor finally gets Marianne out of the house, where she had secluded herself. They go to a jewelry store, which they find very crowded. There is a fashionable man at the counter, and Elinor tries to catch his eye in the hope he will step aside, or hurry his business for the two waiting ladies. But he takes no notice of anything other than what is currently occupying his interest--the particulars of his new tooth-pick case, which he debates over for fifteen minutes. Elinor sees in his face nothing significant or praiseworthy, though his clothes are stylish.
Elinor finally gets her turn, and is nearly done with her business when her brother enters the shop. John is polite and happy to see them, though he has been in town for two days and has not called on them. He promises to call tomorrow, and is excited to meet Mrs. Jennings and the Middletons, whom he hears have large fortunes. He then tells Elinor how glad he was that the cottage was wonderful, and that they needed nothing.
Topic Tracking: Money 12
John calls on Mrs. Jennings, and after his visit, he goes on a walk with Elinor. He wants to know if Colonel Brandon has a large fortune. He thinks the Colonel and Elinor are attached. Elinor tells him he is wrong, but John imagines it is her small fortune that holds the Colonel back, not affection for another woman. He thinks this would be a much better match than one with Edward, though he does not say it directly. He expects Edward to marry soon to a Miss Morton, with a very large fortune.
Topic Tracking: Money 13
Topic Tracking: Hypocrites 15
John speaks about the generous heart of his mother-in-law, telling Elinor how she gave them some money once they got into town. He tells her how little money they have, since he has just bought East Kingham Farm, and is making many improvements there and at Norland. He also comments on how they had to buy all new china and linen, because the Dashwoods took theirs from Norland. All this is intended to make him seem poor, so that he does not have to buy his sisters a present. Once satisfied, John changes the topic of conversation. He asks about Mrs. Jennings, and comments that she will likely leave much of her fortune to Elinor and Marianne. Elinor does not believe so, but John likes the idea of someone else fulfilling his promise to his father.
Topic Tracking: Money 14
John tells Elinor how terrible it is that Marianne has lost her looks, and certainly won't marry well now. He is still hopeful that Elinor will. When he leaves, he reveals that his wife and her mother did not want to visit Mrs. Jennings until they found out her class, since they knew her husband was a workman. But John assures Elinor he can carry back the message that the rich Mrs. Jennings is certainly someone they could comfortably meet.
Topic Tracking: Money 15
Fanny visits Mrs. Jennings and her daughters the next day, and finds an especially good acquaintance in the Lady Middleton. "There was a kind of cold-hearted selfishness on both sides, which mutually attracted them; and they sympathized with each other in an insipid propriety of demeanour, and a general want of understanding." Chapter 34, pg. 194 Elinor learns from Lucy that Edward is in town, but she expects that he is keeping his distance from them both.
Fanny invites the group to dine at her house, and Mrs. Ferrars will be there. Lucy is very nervous, and complains to Elinor. Unlike Lucy, Elinor is glad that she will be meeting Mrs. Ferrars now that her opinion no longer matters; she has no control over her happiness. Elinor pities Lucy and her situation, but Lucy was hoping more for Elinor's jealousy.
At the dinner, Mrs. Ferrars is as mean as Elinor anticipated. Elinor is amused by how nice Mrs. Ferrars is to Lucy, while she ignores Elinor. If only she knew, how different her behavior would have been! The conversation is dull, and only the appearance of little Harry Dashwood brings on conversation. They all argue over whether Harry, or Lady Middleton's child, who was not present, was taller. This topic was heatedly argued, and everyone was expected to have an answer.
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Fanny passes around some screens Elinor had painted before leaving Norland. Mrs. Ferrars is very interested in them, until she learns they were done by Elinor. Upon hearing this, she shoves them aside, and starts to talk about how wonderful Miss Morton can paint. Marianne, who doesn't know who Miss Morton is, is very offended. Elinor only wishes Marianne would be quiet.
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Lucy is very pleased that Mrs. Ferrars liked her, and very smug about Elinor's being so slighted. Elinor tries to remind Lucy that Mrs. Ferrars does not know about the engagement, so Lucy should not be too excited. Lucy thinks this is silly, and comments on how pleasant Mrs. Ferrars and Fanny are. Elinor bites her tongue.
Edward, entering the room suddenly, interrupts the conversation. All are shocked and uncomfortable. Elinor, to avoid suspicion, has to welcome him and treat him politely, while Lucy stands silently by, watching her. Lucy remains silent, leaving Elinor the task of making the situation less awkward, which she attempts to do as best she can. Marianne comes in, and greets a confused Edward very warmly. She speaks to him as though he were family, which makes Lucy very suspicious.
Edward leaves, and Lucy follows soon after. Marianne complains about Lucy's presence, and Elinor's behavior towards her beau, but Elinor cannot break the confidence and tell Marianne the truth.
A few days later, Charlotte Palmer has her baby, and Mrs. Jennings spends her days helping out. Therefore, Elinor and Marianne are obliged to spend their days at the Middletons, where the Steele girls are staying. They hate the idea, but cannot get out of it. Lady Middleton is not very happy either; she does not like the Dashwood girls much, preferring the Miss Steeles.
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The Dashwood girls attend a musical party with Fanny and John. At the party, Elinor recognizes the fussy man she had seen picking out the tooth-pick case. John introduces him as Robert Ferrars, Edward and Fanny's brother. Elinor is no more impressed by him now than she was at their first meeting. Robert talks about Edward's faults, and then rambles on about cottages.
John begins to think that he and Fanny should ask the Dashwood girls to come and stay with them. He is feeling bad about not inviting such near relations as his guests, but Fanny has no such problem. She tells John they can easily invite them another year; she wants to invite the Steele girls instead. Easily swayed, John agrees.
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When Elinor sees that her brother and sister-in-law have invited Lucy and Ann to stay with them, she begins to suspect that perhaps Lucy was right, the family does actually like her.
Charlotte and her baby are doing well, so Mrs. Jennings returns to spending her days at home with Elinor and Marianne. Mrs. Jennings returns one day from Charlotte's, with news of the baby's first ailment. The baby only has a teething rash, but Charlotte panics and calls the doctor. When the doctor comes, he mentions to Mrs. Jennings that he is sure Fanny will soon be doing better. But she is not ill; rather, she has received quite a shock. Ann, observing how much Fanny liked Lucy, decided to tell her about the engagement. Fanny, who had just been deciding which Lord's daughter to set Edward up with, was furious at this betrayal. She became hysterical, and then threw her guests out before they could barely pack their things.
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Elinor, who knew all along, is happy that Mrs. Jennings no longer suspects any affection between her and Edward, and also that Marianne was not present to hear this story. Elinor knows she needs time to prepare her. She leaves Mrs. Jennings and goes off to tell Marianne, who is terribly upset and confused. "Elinor was to be the comforter of others in her own distress, no less than in theirs" Chapter 37, pg. 220. Amazed at her sister's strength, Marianne also feels an awful guilt and self-hatred for the accusations of happiness with which she charged her sister, and she easily agrees to keep her composure when the subject of Edward and Lucy comes up in public. Elinor wants to avoid any appearance of hurt feelings at the news, so no one will suspect she loves Edward.
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John comes over the next day, to tell the girls about Fanny's condition. Her feelings of betrayal at the new of Edward's engagement to Lucy were almost too much to bear. Mrs. Ferrars was shocked as well, and needing to control her son's every move, tried to get Edward to give up the engagement. When he refused, his mother disowned him, deciding to give all his money to Robert, and to do her best to keep Edward from getting a job. John thinks Edward is crazy to give up his fortune, but Mrs. Jennings praises Edward for his honesty and loyalty.
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Mrs. Jennings continues to praise Edward's character; Elinor swells with respect for him, and Marianne, upon realizing his punishment, cannot help but forgive him. Elinor hears more details of what occurred during a walk in Kensington Gardens. She runs into Anne, who is happy to hear that no one is mad at Lucy or herself. She then tells Elinor how Edward suggested to Lucy that the engagement should be off, since he now had so little to offer her. But Lucy would not agree to it, and they decided he would take orders and try to find a place in the church. Elinor is shocked when Ann reveals that she heard this conversation while listening through the door.
Elinor repeats little of this ill-found news to Mrs. Jennings, telling her only about the plan for Edward to take orders, and their decision to wait until he has a parsonage before they marry. Mrs. Jennings thinks that could take a long time.
The next day Elinor receives a letter from Lucy. In it, a smug Lucy tells her that despite all their troubles, she and Edward are still very much in love. She thanks Elinor for all her help, and makes a few flattering comments to Mrs. Jennings, in the hope she will help her. She also suggests if they know anyone with a parsonage, that they please remember her and Edward.
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Mrs. Jennings is very flattered, and comments on how nice it was for Lucy to mention everyone. The kindness, however, was only out of her hope of getting favors.
Marianne is still just as anxious to leave town, and Elinor arranges it so they can travel to Cleveland, the Palmer's home, which is a day's trip from Norland. Marianne is not satisfied, because Cleveland is in Somersetshire, where Willoughby lives. But Elinor convinces her, and they prepare to leave with Mrs. Jennings.
The Colonel comes over, and has something to discuss with Elinor. Marianne is playing the piano forte, and Mrs. Jennings tries not to listen but just can't help herself. She hears what she imagines to be a marriage proposal, from the Colonel to Elinor, but there are enough unromantic sentences to make her confused. Actually, the Colonel is making an offer of his parsonage at Delaford for Edward, and he wants Elinor to convey the message. The parsonage is small, meant for a bachelor, but it is all the Colonel has to offer. Elinor is very surprised, and reluctantly agrees to carry to Edward the news; this will likely ensure his marriage to Lucy.
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Mrs. Jennings, thinking Elinor and the Colonel are now engaged, is very happy, and tells Elinor how pleased she is. Elinor does not understand Mrs. Jennings' mistake. She asks her not to tell anyone until she has the opportunity to tell Edward, and Mrs. Jennings assumes this means that they want Edward to perform the service. So when Mrs. Jennings sees Edward downstairs, leaving word of his departure from town, Mrs. Jennings sends him to Elinor.
Elinor, who has just begun writing the news to Edward, is now faced with the much more difficult task of telling him in person. After many uncomfortable moments, Elinor tells Edward about the parsonage, being careful to make sure he knows it was the Colonel's doing. She does not want him to think she had any part in securing the means by which he could marry another woman. Edward is shocked and thankful, and rushes out to find Colonel Brandon and thank him.
Mrs. Jennings comes home, and asks Elinor when everything will be ready. When Elinor replies that it will likely be several months, Mrs. Jennings is shocked. Elinor tells her how important it is to the Colonel to help Edward, and Mrs. Jennings cannot understand why their marriage is not the priority. Confused, Elinor corrects her, and they both laugh about the error. Mrs. Jennings is happy about the parsonage, and is certain that even if the income is small, he and Lucy will do just fine.
Edward thanked the Colonel, and carried the news on to Lucy. Lucy told Mrs. Jennings that she and Edward were very happy.
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Elinor thought it would be proper for someone to go and visit Fanny, after all the trouble with Lucy, and Elinor found herself the only one willing to go. Elinor was turned away from the Dashwood home, but as she was leaving John came out. He made an excuse for why Fanny, who was home, chose not to see Elinor. That settled, John asked Elinor many questions about the Colonel's parsonage, which he heard had been given to Edward. Being so cheap himself, John could not believe the Colonel could just give the parsonage away to someone he barely knew. Elinor assured him that it was true.
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John asks Elinor not to mention the parsonage to Mrs. Ferrars, because he knows it will cause her pain. Elinor cannot understand how a mother who has just disowned her son can care, regardless of what is happening to him.
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John tells Elinor that they are thinking of matching Miss Morton with Robert, now that Edward is marrying Lucy. This is not strange for John, who comments that since Edward's wealth now belongs to Robert, there is little difference between them. On the subject of attachments, John feels it necessary to tell Elinor that though there were objections to an attachment between herself and Edward, they would have been much less than to the one between Edward and Lucy. Annoyed, Elinor thinks how wonderful it is to be the lesser of two evils.
Robert comes in, and Elinor tells him about Edward's parsonage. Concerned only with appearances, Robert wastes no time making fun of his brother's being a clergyman. He pretends to regret that there was nothing he could do to stop Edward's match with such an inappropriate girl.
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The Dashwood girls and Mrs. Jennings prepare to leave for Cleveland. Though the journey will take them closer towards home, Marianne is still sad in their leaving. Elinor was more happy to leave town, lessening the chance of Marianne seeing Willoughby, and ridding her of Lucy's painful friendship.
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Marianne enjoys being back in the country, and takes many solitary walks. The company is agreeable, and Elinor even finds Mr. Palmer to be nicer in his own house. When the Colonel arrived, he filled Elinor in on the details of the parsonage. Elinor could understand Mrs. Jennings confusion at her close friendship with the Colonel, but she knew the Colonel really favored Marianne. After one of her long walks, this time through the wet grass, Marianne gets a bad cold and goes to bed early.
Marianne appears better the next morning, but she is not. Elinor sends her back to bed, but is not worried--she is sure sleep is all her sister needs. The doctor comes to examine Marianne, who he believes to have some kind of infection. Charlotte leaves immediately with the child, and her husband followed soon after. Only Mrs. Jennings, the Colonel, and Elinor stay behind with Marianne, and Elinor finds Mrs. Jennings most of all, very helpful. The Colonel thought of leaving, but Mrs. Jennings, who thought it would be terrible for him to leave his love while her sister was sick, encouraged him to stay. This was a good thing, because when Marianne grew worse, the Colonel offered to drive out and bring Marianne her mother.
Marianne is delirious, and Elinor is very concerned. Mrs. Jennings is very sympathetic, and a comfort to Elinor. The doctor tries more medicines, none of which seem to work. The following day, however, Elinor imagines an improvement in her sister's condition. As the hours pass, she is given proof of it, and Marianne seems out of danger. Elinor is thankful, satisfied in her quiet way. She is able to eat now, and joins Mrs. Jennings for tea. The night is stormy, and Elinor is determined to spend it at Marianne's bedside. The Colonel and her mother could arrive at any moment. Upon hearing a carriage, Elinor rushes downstairs, but it is not her mother she sees; rather, it is Willoughby!
Elinor, horrified at seeing the man who had treated her sister and her family so terribly, first tries to send him away. But Willoughby begs her to stay and listen to him. He came because he heard of Marianne's illness, and could not bear to have her die thinking him so cruel. He is relieved to hear Marianne is out of danger, but he still wants to explain himself. Elinor reluctantly agrees.
Willoughby tells Elinor he only came to Norland with the hope of passing the time pleasantly. He had not the intention, nor the desire to fall in love:
"Careless of her happiness, thinking only of my own amusement, giving way to feelings which he had always been too much in the habit of indulging, I endeavored, by every means in my power, to make myself pleasing to her, without any design of returning her affections." Chapter 44, pg. 271
Elinor can barely stand to hear this, but Willoughby presses her to let him continue. He blames this behavior on money--such a necessity to him that he could not even think of marrying Marianne, whose fortune is so small. In his vanity, he encouraged her affection, he flirted, but it was selfish. He did fall in love with her, but he held back from asking her to marry him, embarrassed at his debt. He finally decided, one night, to ask her to marry him the next morning. In the few hours before then, Mrs. Smith heard (probably from the Colonel) about his conduct with Miss Williams, and she told him he must either marry the girl or she would disinherit him. Willoughby tries to defend himself, insisting that Miss Williams was not the innocent, or he the libertine. It is not that simple, but Elinor does not like his indifference toward the girl. Willoughby insists he did not leave her, but that he simply forgot to give her his address, which is a rather unconvincing excuse. Mrs. Smith was not forgiving, and when Willoughby found himself disowned, he knew that he could not marry Marianne. He was more afraid of having no money than of having no love.
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Willoughby tells Elinor how painful it was to leave Marianne, and Devonshire, but he felt he had no choice. Elinor, though feeling compassionate, is anxious for him to go. Willoughby asks her if she saw his letter to Marianne. He felt himself unable to answer any of Marianne's letters, whose tender tone reminded him of all the love and promises he had tried to forget. He felt guilty, remembering their love, but his marriage to Miss Grey was already arranged. He did his best to avoid she and Elinor, even waiting for them to leave the house before he visited. The meeting with Marianne at the party was torture. She looked so lovely, and he felt horrible for his behavior. Miss Grey was watching, and when Marianne's final letter arrived at breakfast the next morning, she snatched it and read it. Jealous, she wrote Willoughby's reply, and made him copy it into his own hand before sending it. Willoughby performed the cruel act, afraid of losing Miss Grey's favor, and her money.
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Willoughby complains of having no choice, but Elinor insists that his fault is his own. Still in love with Marianne, he begs Elinor to repeat what he has said to her. Since he heard from Sir John about Marianne's illness, he has been unable to think of anything except setting things right with the woman he still loves.
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Before leaving, Willoughby asks Elinor if she thinks him a better person than she did before. She answers yes and she forgives him. Willoughby tells her he fears daily the news of Marianne's marriage, for knowing someone else has her (especially if it is the Colonel), will be worst of all. With this said, he leaves.
Elinor cannot help but feel compassion for Willoughby, whose own bad acts had also created much misery in his own life. Shortly after Willoughby's departure, the Colonel and her mother arrive, relieved to hear Marianne is doing better. Mrs. Dashwood tells Elinor how the Colonel revealed his love for Marianne during the anxious carriage-ride. Happy with her daughter's recovery, she now hopes to marry Marianne and the Colonel, once Marianne is well. Elinor is of mixed feelings, unsure if it is a good match, but she appears happy. They discuss the Colonel's fine character, and the chance of persuading Marianne to marry him. Mrs. Dashwood has convinced herself that Willoughby is and was not a good person, and would never have made as good a match with Marianne as the Colonel will. Mrs. Dashwood is already thinking of what kind of house she could buy near Delaford, the Colonel's home. Believing Edward and Lucy will likely be married living on his parsonage, Elinor can think of nowhere she would rather avoid.
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Marianne, though weak and pale, is recovering well. They decide to travel back home to Barton Cottage. Returning home is both happy and painful for Marianne, who cannot avoid her memories of Willoughby. Having lots of time to think while she was ill, Marianne now keeps her tears silent, and makes an effort to be happy for the others. She determines to take long walks every day, and spend most of her time in study.
When the weather clears, the girls go out for a walk, and Marianne tells Elinor that if only she knew Willoughby did once love her, and that he was not always a liar, she would be at ease. Knowing she loved someone who could act so poorly says very little for her character. Marianne admits that she compares her conduct with Elinor's, and she knows how little they compare. She feels that she treated everyone terribly, Elinor most of all, because it was Elinor she was supposed to know best. She only let herself be sad, and ignored everyone else's feelings, and for this she is very sorry. Marianne decides that she will make family her first priority, and do her best to restrain her destructive passions. Elinor decides it is time to tell her what Willoughby told her, and she does. Marianne cries quietly, and before retiring to her room, asks Elinor to tell their mother.
Mrs. Dashwood was happy, relieved, and forgiving, at the story of Willoughby. That evening, Marianne wants to talk about Willoughby. She acknowledges that she could never have been happy with him, knowing all she knows now. Elinor agrees, and suggests that though Willoughby now regrets choosing money over love, he may have soon tired of being poor, and grown annoyed with efforts at economy. Such a mismatch, she suggests, would have doomed the marriage from the start. A selfish man, Elinor believes he is only now regretful because his bad action has not made him happy. Though hard to hear Willoughby called selfish, Marianne must admit that it was never she he wanted to make happy.
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Some time later, the Dashwood's servant returns from town with knowledge of the marriage of Mr. Ferrars. All are shocked and disbelieving, Elinor most of all, who becomes hysterical. The servant tells them he saw Mr. Ferrars and Miss Steele in a carriage, and she told him of their marriage. They forget dinner, appetites lost. Mrs. Dashwood regrets now how little attention was paid to Elinor, who suffered much less publicly than Marianne.
Elinor, who had secretly hoped that Edward would not be able to marry Lucy, now finds herself without hope and full of pain. Elinor imagines the couple at Delaford's parsonage, Lucy gaining her ends by relentless flattery, Edward her husband, and feels miserable.
They expect the Colonel to arrive soon, but when a man rides up on horseback, they discover it is not the Colonel, but Edward. Elinor quiets herself, and determines to act cheerful and normal. The three of them wait, pale and anxious, for Edward to enter. When he does, they are courteous, and try to be warm. All are uncomfortable, but it is Elinor who speaks first. She asks him where Mrs. Ferrars is. He tells her that his mother is in town. Looking away, she corrects him, and asks about Mrs. Edward Ferrars. Confused, he suggests she means his brother, who has just married Lucy Steele. Astonished, Elinor runs out of the room, closes the door, and bursts into tears. Edward, thoughtful at her behavior, walks back to the village.
Free from Lucy, Edward had come to Barton to ask Elinor to marry him, and when he asks her, she says yes. Having shifted from the engagement to Lucy, who he no longer loves, to one with Elinor, whose love makes him so happy, Edward is joyful. To Elinor, he describes his relationship with Lucy as one of ignorance--ignorance of women, of love, of the world. He thought her wonderful because she was all he knew. Having little company or friendship in his family, he chose to spend most of his time with Lucy. Mrs. Dashwood is happy, Marianne is crying, Elinor id ecstatic, and for once, not quiet.
The marriage between Lucy and Robert seemed so unlikely, Edward could only suppose that "the vanity of one had been so worked on by the flattery of the other" Chapter 49, pg. 309, that they had become attached. Not believing Lucy capable of any deceit or cruelty, Edward suggested that perhaps she had been trying to gain Robert's favor for him, and had fallen in love in the process. He shows Elinor the surprising and poorly written letter he received from Lucy, which told him that since she had lost his love, she thought it acceptable to fall in love with another, and that man was Edward's brother.
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Elinor thinks how ironic it is that the money Mrs. Ferrars denied to Lucy and Edward, Lucy would now get anyway. Edward expects that his mother will be more hurt by Robert's match with Lucy, because he was her favorite, but that she will also forgive him quicker.
Elinor is sure that Lucy meant to hurt her, by allowing her servant to think she had married Edward when that was not the case. Edward, though unbelieving at first, soon sees Lucy's cruelty. He still cannot imagine why Lucy chose to stay with him so long after he was disinherited. Elinor suggests the engagement could not hurt Lucy, and that it was probably better for her to marry him than to be single.
Edward apologizes for leading Elinor on; he thought his engagement would keep his heart safe, but he soon grew to love Elinor and did not know what to do. Imagining he was only hurting himself, he stayed too long in their company. Elinor and Edward start to think about how they will live after they are married. The parsonage is not enough, and Elinor is afraid of depending on the kindness of Edward's mother.
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The Colonel arrives and hears the story of Lucy and Robert's marriage. He is happy that his parsonage will now help his good friend Elinor. He and Edward meet, and become friends.
They receive a letter from Mrs. Jennings, criticizing Lucy for her treatment of Edward and Ann, whose money she borrowed and then left stranded. John sends a letter telling how painful it was for Mrs. Ferrars and Fanny to see Robert married so, and how firm they are never to admit Lucy to their home. John's letter suggests that if Edward were to send his mother an apologetic letter, she might forgive him and take him back. Elinor is glad to hear this, and urges Edward to send the letter. Edward is unwilling, but agrees, choosing instead to go there in person and have his say.
The proud Mrs. Ferrars resists Edward at first, then forgives him, and again calls him her son. Edward, before becoming too secure, felt he should reveal his new engagement. His mother tries to discourage him, offering again the wealthy Miss Morton, but Edward is determined, so Mrs. Ferrars approves the marriage. Mrs. Ferrars offers Edward only the amount of money she gave Fanny at her marriage, which is more than enough for Edward and Elinor.
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Waiting until the parsonage is fully repaired, he and Elinor marry in early autumn, and are very happy. Their family visits, and John tells Elinor how much he hopes the Colonel and Marianne will marry. He is always hopeful of having a rich relation. Mrs. Ferrars also visits, and pretends to be affectionate, though her favorite is still Robert, whom she has since forgiven and taken back. Even Mrs. Ferrars was not immune to Lucy's flattery, and Lucy was also forgiven. It was Lucy's selfish charm that drew Robert in, when he visited her to try to convince her to release Edward from the engagement. Lucy, liking the attention, made many visits necessary, and soon their talks shifted to Robert, and the rest followed. In fact:
"Lucy became as necessary to Mrs. Ferrars, as either Robert or Fanny; and while Edward was never cordially forgiven for having once intended to marry her, and Elinor, though superior to her in fortune and birth, was spoken of as an intruder, she was in everything considered, and always openly acknowledged, to be a favourite child." Chapter 50, pg. 320
Robert had no regrets from receiving income at his brother's misfortune; nor did he regret not having much more than his brother. Edward had no regrets where money is concerned. They were able to have Elinor's family visit often, and after all that the Colonel had been through, and all the help he had given, they began to feel Marianne should be the reward of such fine action. With everyone wanting it, and knowing how good a person he was, she had little hope of resisting. Marianne, who felt herself so fixed in opinion, who denied the possibility of second attachments, was now about to enter her second attachment with a man who had also loved before! Instead of the passion she once sought, or the life of study she imagined, Marianne found herself at the age of nineteen, the wife and patroness of Delaford, growing more in love with her husband, until her feelings for him matched what she had once felt for Willoughby.
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Willoughby, who was saddened to hear of her marriage, was even more so when Mrs. Smith forgave him. Because his wife was of good character, Mrs. Smith took him back, which made Willoughby realize that if he had married Marianne, he could have had all he wanted. But he did not seclude himself or die broken-hearted. He lived well, his wife was agreeable at times, but he always held Marianne up as the perfect woman.
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Mrs. Dashwood stayed at the cottage, and kept Sir John quite occupied, as Margaret was just at the right age for dances and engagements.
They all kept in touch, and Elinor and Marianne, though living so close to each other, were happy and peaceful, as were their husbands.