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Free Study Guide-Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen-Free Book Notes
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CHAPTER SUMMARIES AND NOTES

CHAPTER 38

Summary

Three days after the incident at John Dashwood's house, Mrs. Jennings and Elinor go out for a walk to Kensington gardens. After separating from Mrs. Jennings, Elinor meets Anne Steele, and the two talk about Lucy and the unhappy incident. Miss Steele also tells Elinor about Edward's visit that morning and how she had overheard an intimate conversation between him and Lucy. Elinor is disgusted at her behavior. After reaching home, she relates the incident to Mrs. Jennings. Later, she receives a letter from Lucy by the two-penny post informing her of their current circumstances. She seeks the help of the Middletons or Palmers to offer a position to Edward. Elinor shows the letter to Mrs. Jennings. The old lady is impressed by the letter.

Notes

The chapter reveals the somewhat crass behavior of the Steele sisters. Miss Steele reveals to Elinor that she had purposely stood outside the door of the locked room in which Lucy and Edward were conversing. She does not feel guilty about her behavior; her justification is that even Lucy had eavesdropped earlier. Lucy's letter also exposes her selfishness and base nature. Lucy asks Elinor to recommend her case to anyone who will be willing to provide a position to Edward. She looks forward to the help of Mrs. Jennings, the Middletons and the Palmers. Lucy is not ashamed to ask favors of others.


CHAPTER 39

Summary

Elinor and Marianne are invited by the Palmers to Cleveland. At the insistence of Mrs. Jennings, they decide to accept the invitation. One day Colonel Brandon visits them and asks Elinor to inform Edward that he is prepared to give a position at Delaford to him. Edward could lead a comfortable life on an income of two thousand pounds, but he would not be able to afford a wife. Mrs. Jennings, who observes Elinor and Colonel Brandon talking animatedly, concludes that they must be talking about a wedding.

Notes

In answer to Marianne's wish that they go home, the sisters are invited to accompany Mrs. Jennings to Cleveland. Since it will be easy for them to reach Barton from Cleveland, they accept the invitation.

Mrs. Jennings, who is always engaged in matchmaking, starts imagining the Colonel to be in love with Elinor. Thus, when she hears the phrase, "I am afraid it cannot take place very soon," she is angry with the Colonel for postponing their wedding. Misunderstanding causes much humor in the scene.

Colonel Brandon can be rightly identified as a generous man who willingly offers a living to Edward in Delaford. His love for Marianne and respect for Elinor makes him extend help to their friends. It is ironic that he chooses Elinor to convey this information to Edward.

CHAPTER 40

Summary

Mrs. Jennings approaches Elinor soon after the Colonel's exit. She congratulates her and asks her many questions, which gradually reveal her mistaken assumption that there is an engagement between Elinor and the Colonel. Elinor mentions Brandon's generosity and his request to her to convey the information to Edward. Mrs. Jennings is puzzled, and as she is in a hurry to leave, she decides to speak further with Elinor upon her return. When Edward arrives, Elinor tells him the good news. He is pleasantly surprised. He promises to meet the Colonel and thank him for his generosity. Mrs. Jennings returns to the house and asks Elinor if Edward is prepared to get ordained to perform her marriage to the Colonel. Elinor is shocked to hear Mrs. Jennings' words. She corrects the misunderstanding by informing the old lady of the Colonel's offer to Edward.

Notes

This chapter demonstrates the misunderstandings that arise when a character like Mrs. Jennings gives her interpretation of the events that she witnesses. The conversation between Elinor and Mrs. Jennings is amusing as each misinterprets the other's words. Elinor is unaware of Mrs. Jennings' suspicions, and hence she talks about informing Edward of the Colonel's offer. Mrs. Jennings is then unable to understand why Edward should be informed of the Colonel's proposal. She surmises that Elinor and the Colonel might have decided to get married only after Edward has been ordained and is ready to perform their wedding. Much humor results from this confused conversation.

Edward Ferrars is obviously surprised when Elinor informs him of the Colonel's generous offer at Delaford: in this time of crisis, assistance from such an unexpected quarter is astonishing. Like Mrs. Jennings, he believes the Colonel to be in love with Elinor. He feels that Brandon has offered him help only to please Elinor. Thus he thanks Elinor for helping him.

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