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CHAPTER SUMMARIES WITH NOTES
The Dashwoods take possession of their cottage in the fertile Barton Valley, which is "well wooded and rich in pasture." Their new house is quite comfortable. Although Mrs. Dashwood is not completely satisfied with the cottage, she is happy that it can be turned into a suitable dwelling with just a few changes.
Shortly after reaching their new home, they are welcomed by their landlord, Sir John Middleton. Later, they meet Lady Middleton and her children. John Middleton is spontaneous and warm, while his wife is cold and reserved. They both invite the Dashwoods to their house the next day.
The scene shifts to the countryside. Barton Cottage is small, but it is surrounded by a beautiful landscape. The Dashwood girls approve of the cottage and admire its lush green environment. The place gives its inhabitants a sense of freedom.
The people, too, are very welcoming. John Middleton's face "was thoroughly good-humored; and his manners were as friendly as the style of his letter." He is concerned and helpful. He does everything to make his new tenants feel comfortable in their surroundings. His wife is not as cordial as her husband, but to please him, she extends the hand of friendship to Mrs. Dashwood and her daughters.
Jane Austen creates an irony of circumstance here. At Norland Estate, Mrs. Dashwood and her girls had been living in a familiar setting, yet they felt like strangers. At Barton, they find themselves in a strange setting, but they feel comfortable. Mr. John Dashwood, as the only brother to the Dashwood girls, was expected to see to their comfort and provide them security, but he failed to fulfill his responsibilities. But Sir John Middleton, distantly related to Mrs. Dashwood and almost a stranger to her daughters, treats them like a brother. He welcomes them to the estate, helps them to settle down and invites them to the Park.
The chapter is devoted to the introduction of John Middleton's family. John Middleton is a happy-go-lucky man, whose lack of taste is compensated by his lively spirits and generous heart. He is a sportsman who spends his spare time in entertaining friends and acquaintances. He feels pride in cultivating friendship with cultured people like the Dashwoods. His fashionable wife is busy looking after her children and is always contented to talk about them.
The Dashwoods are welcomed heartily by John Middleton when they arrive at the Park. He introduces them to his mother-in-law, Mrs. Jennings, and Colonel Brandon. Mrs. Jennings is as delighted to meet the Dashwood family as John Middleton was, and she tries to entertain them to the best of her ability. Colonel Brandon keeps to himself. Marianne plays the piano and wins everyone's heart through her talent.
Jane Austen is at her ironic best when she describes John Middleton and his wife. The Middletons have different interests but resemble each other in their lack of taste and talent. In the words of Austen, "Sir John was a sportsman, Lady Middleton a mother. He hunted and shot, and she humored her children, and these were their only resources. Lady Middleton had the advantage of being able to spoil her children all the year round, while Sir John's independent employments were in existence only half the time. Continual engagements at home and abroad, however, supplied all the deficiencies of nature and education, supported the good spirits of Sir John, and gave exercise to the good breeding of his wife." The passage is full of subtle humor. Both Sir John and Lady Middleton are busy doing nothing. Just as hunting is a sport for John Middleton, mothering is a sport for Lady Middleton. While Sir John spends his time pursuing his hunting, his wife occupies herself by spoiling her children.
Two more characters are introduced in the chapter. Mrs. Jennings is a merry old woman, who takes pleasure in joking with young ladies and gentleman. Colonel Brandon is placed in striking contrast to her. Unlike her, he is sober, self-restrained and reserved. He appreciates talent but refrains from voicing compliments. He is a perfect foil to Lady Jennings; they balance each other in the atmosphere of the scene.
In this chapter Colonel Brandon meets Marianne, listens to her singing and falls in love with her. Marianne is unaware of his feelings for her. She ignores him, as she considers him too old for her company.