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CHAPTER SUMMARIES AND NOTES
It takes three days for the ladies to complete their journey. The house at Portman Square is cozy and comfortable. Elinor and Marianne are given separate quarters. After settling in, Elinor sits down to write a letter to her mother. Marianne, too, writes a letter, but it is addressed to Willoughby. In the following days she waits eagerly for his visit and his letter. However, she is in for much disappointment.
Colonel Brandon visits them the next day. Marianne avoids him, while Elinor engages him in a conversation. In the evening Mrs. Palmer pays them a visit. She is in high spirits and expresses pleasure at meeting the girls. Other guests of Mrs. Jennings also arrive, and they are entertained with a game of whist.
Elinor is concerned over her sister's behavior. Marianne neither participates in any activity nor shows enthusiasm in entertaining the guests. Elinor decides to write to her mother regarding her sister.
It is the time for waiting and visiting. Marianne's impatience is revealed when she writes a letter to Willoughby immediately after arriving in London. She cannot think of anyone but him. Her restlessness only increases with time. Thus, when Colonel Brandon pays them a visit, she is disappointed and even disgusted. She also shows no desire to talk to Mrs. Palmer or the other guests of Mrs. Jennings. Through her behavior, she hurts the feelings of people like Colonel Brandon.
Elinor observes her sister and is naturally concerned. Marianne's callous attitude towards others disturbs her. When Marianne avoids Colonel Brandon, Mrs. Palmer and the others, Elinor tries to make up for her sister's neglect by engaging them in conversation. She plays the part of a responsible hostess by helping Mrs. Jennings to entertain her guests. Her sensitivity to others is well brought out in this episode.
Mrs. Jennings waits for the arrival of the Middletons, while Marianne waits for Willoughby's visit. Colonel Brandon visits them everyday. Elinor keeps him company. One day, after returning from a drive, Marianne finds Willoughby's card on the table. She is excited and waits for his visit. In the meantime Mrs. Jennings receives a letter from Lady Middleton informing her about their visit to the city.
The Middletons arrive and host a party. All their friends make an appearance except for Willoughby, who was invited but failed to keep his appointment. Marianne is distressed. She writes another letter to Willoughby. Colonel Brandon visits them again and expresses a desire to speak to Elinor. He questions Elinor about Marianne's engagement in order to ascertain whether he stands any chance of winning her favor. Elinor indicates little hope. Brandon takes his leave after wishing Marianne happiness.
Marianne displays her feelings for Willoughby openly. When Mrs. Jennings mentions John Middleton's reluctance to leave the countryside when the weather is so good, Marianne responds excitedly, thinking of her lover and his passion for sports. When she finds Willoughby's card on the table, her hopes soar, and she is excited. However, when she is informed at the Middletons' party that Willoughby will not be in attendance, she feels depressed and reveals her displeasure.
Elinor feels helpless in offering any advice to her sister. Instead, she decides to write to her mother about this matter. Whenever Marianne is indiscreet, Elinor tries to compensate for her sister. She feels sorry for Colonel Brandon but thinks it reasonable to lay bare the truth about Marianne's feelings for Willoughby. Elinor is honest but discreet and prudent.
Willoughby neither visits nor writes Marianne. One evening, both the girls accompany Mrs. Jennings to a party, where they ultimately meet Willoughby. Elinor notices him talking to a fashionable lady. Marianne is agitated after catching a glimpse of him. A short while afterward, Willoughby comes forward to meet them. He is formal in his manners and fails to reciprocate Marianne's passionate entreaties. When he takes leave of them abruptly, Marianne is shocked and feels faint. Elinor seeks the help of Lady Middleton and takes her home.
Marianne gets a shattering blow after meeting Willoughby at the party. All along she had been looking forward to meeting him and when she does, she expects him to apologize for his neglect and express his love for her. Instead, he behaves like a stranger and gives her the cold shoulder. He is formal in his manners and curt in his behavior towards the sisters. His callous attitude breaks Marianne's heart.
What Elinor had feared all along comes true. Elinor had never been sure of Willoughby's intentions towards Marianne and had expressed her doubts to her mother. She had been worried when Willoughby failed to respond to Marianne's letters. She had felt disturbed by his negligent attitude. When she meets him and receives a cold response from him, she is disgusted. The scene at the party finally severs the relationship between Marianne and Willoughby. Elinor rightly believes that he had treated her sister in a shameful manner and that he deserves nothing but contempt.
Jane Austen has constructed an emotional situation in which to present the confrontation between Marianne and Willoughby. The scene is charged with expectation. Marianne is enraptured to meet Willoughby and openly displays her affection for him, but Willoughby acts reserved and shows restraint in his behavior towards her. He appears indifferent to her feelings. His curt reply to her passionate questions is cruel and shattering.