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CHAPTER SUMMARIES AND NOTES
Elinor has met Mrs. Ferrars and finds nothing to commend her. She is happy that she will no longer have to associate with her. Lucy is impressed by both Mrs. Ferrars and Fanny Dashwood. She is delighted to earn their favor and hopes that she will be accepted as the new daughter of their house. Just as the two girls are exchanging views about Mrs. Ferrars, Edward enters the room. Both Edward and Elinor feel awkward. Lucy does nothing to ease the situation. Elinor plays the part of a good hostess by exchanging polite remarks with him. She also calls Marianne so that she can speak with Edward. Marianne is overly effusive and asks him to spend some more time with them. Edward, however, takes his leave.
Jane Austen creates an uncomfortable situation, in which both Elinor and Lucy are present before the man they love. Edward feels awkward, and Lucy worsens the condition with her silence. It is Elinor who saves the moment through her presence of mind. She welcomes Edward and encourages him to participate in their conversation. She is magnanimous enough to allow Edward to spend a few minutes alone with Lucy. She shows no bitterness towards Edward. Lucy poses a complete contrast to Elinor. She is cold and indifferent to his feelings. She also mocks him. She feels insecure in the presence of Elinor. Instead of taking leave of them, she shamelessly remains on the scene, much to the discomfort of Edward, Elinor and Marianne.
It is interesting that with the exception of Edward, all the other people that Lucy likes, Elinor dislikes. Elinor feels disgusted at the snobbish and rude behavior of both Mrs. Ferrars and Fanny Dashwood, while Lucy finds the mother and daughter delightful company. Elinor is relieved to be spared their company in the future, while Lucy looks forward to a life-long relationship with them.
Mrs. Jennings decides to spend more time with her daughter, Charlotte, who has had a baby. Elinor and Marianne are thrown in the compadny of Lady Middleton and the Steele sisters as a result of this. One day they receive an invitation to a musical party. At the party Elinor gets acquainted with Robert Ferrars. She identifies him as the same man who had taken a long time to choose a tooth-pick case at Gray's. She thinks he is a foolish, shallow and conceited man.
The Steeles are invited to spend a few days with John Dashwood and his wife. The girls are delighted and inform the Dashwood sisters of the invitation. Shortly afterwards, John Dashwood visits his sisters. He talks about the Misses Steele and how impressed Fanny is with them.
This chapter also sparkles with Jane Austen's humor. Speaking of Lady Middleton, Austen writes: "Though nothing could be more polite than Lady Middleton's behavior to Elinor and Marianne, she did not really like them at all. Because they neither flattered herself nor her children, she could not believe them good- natured; and because they were fond of reading, she fancied them satirical: perhaps without exactly knowing what it was to be satirical; but that did not signify. It was censure in common use, and easily given." Such passages not only showcase Austen's skill as a satirist, but also delineate the ways in which the heroines stand apart from the other characters.
One of the most amusing scenes in the chapter is the one in which Fanny Dashwood convinces her husband that it is pointless to invite his sisters to visit them at their house. The scene resembles an earlier one in which Fanny convinces her husband against providing financial help to his sisters. In each case, Fanny tries to make it seem as though logic and propriety, instead of pettiness and malice, influence her decisions.
One more character is introduced in the chapter. He is Robert Ferrars. Unlike his brother, he is shallow and conceited and tries to impress young ladies with his limited knowledge. Elinor patiently listens to his prattle. She "agreed to it all, for she did not think he deserved the compliment of rational opposition."
Mrs. Jennings informs Elinor of Lucy's engagement to Edward. She also recounts how Fanny reacted when she heard this news. Fanny became hysterical and drove the Steeles out of her house. Later, Mrs. Ferrars summoned Edward and asked him to terminate the engagement. However, Edward stood his ground, and the old lady disinherited him.
Elinor relates this information to her sister. Marianne is shocked to hear the news. She condemns both Lucy and Edward for their decision.
Two humorous characters describe the scene that occurred in Fanny Dashwood's house when the news of Lucy's engagement to Edward was announced. Mrs. Jennings conveys the gossip of the day with exclamations and imaginary conversations. Talking about Fanny's reaction to the news, she remarks, "She fell into violent hysterics immediately, with such screams as reached your brother's ears, as he was sitting in his own dressing room downstairs . . . So up he flew directly, and a terrible scene took place, for Lucy was come to them by that time, little dreaming what was going on. Poor Soul! . . . for your sister scolded like any fury, and soon drove her into a fainting fit."
John Dashwood, however, describes the scene through the eyes of a devoted husband and presents his wife as the offended party. "Poor Fanny! She was in hysterics all yesterday. . . . She has borne it all with the fortitude of an angel." He confounds his wife's devilish rage with an angel's strength.
Elinor at last reveals Lucy's secret to Marianne. She controls her own emotions and relates the events cautiously, so as not to shock her sister with the news. She discloses the information without damaging Edward's character. She is generous in excusing his juvenile blunder and wishes him well. Marianne admires her sister's will power and tolerance.