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CHAPTER SUMMARIES AND NOTES
Mrs. Dashwood is happy to hear that Willoughby has good feelings toward Marianne. However, she agrees with her daughter that Marianne could not have been happily married to Willoughby. Meanwhile, Elinor is anxious to learn about Edward. One day her man-servant brings the information that Lucy is married to Mr. Ferrars; he met them in front of their carriage in Exeter. The Dashwood family is disturbed to hear this news.
Marianne has finally overcome her infatuation for Willoughby. She analyzes the situation and arrives at the conclusion that she would have been miserable if she had married him. Elinor agrees with her sister. She still considers Willoughby to be selfish person, who is repenting his actions because his marriage has not turned out to be as blissful as he had expected. He has criticized Miss Grey for being heartless; had he married Marianne, he would have complained about her unfavorable financial situation.
Elinor has philosophically accepted Edward's marriage to Lucy; nevertheless, she gets a shock when she is confronted with actual news of the event. Elinor is sensible, understanding and intelligent, but she is a normal girl who has feelings. Therefore, she is distraught after losing all hope of regaining Edward's affections. Austen's characterization of Elinor is more sophisticated than it at first appears. Elinor is not only the epitome of tolerance and "sense;" she is human, too.
This short chapter brings happiness to the Dashwood family. The opening of the chapter shows Elinor depressed. All along she has nurtured the hope that Edward might come back to marry her one day, but after hearing about his marriage to Lucy, she loses all hope. Her nerves suffer a further setback with the sudden appearance of Edward at the cottage. The Dashwoods hide their emotions and welcome him. Elinor takes courage and inquires about Mrs. Edward Ferrars. But Edward only looks puzzled. Then he informs them that Lucy has actually gotten married to his brother, Robert. The Dashwoods are stunned to hear the news.
Jane Austen introduces an element of surprise in the chapter. Edward's sudden appearance at Barton Cottage creates ample suspense in the mind of the reader, since Edward arrives alone, and not with Lucy. The Dashwoods look bewildered. Elinor feels hurt, and she presumes that Edward has come to mock her. Marianne is angry at his audacity. Mrs. Dashwood looks dejected, while Margaret is confused. The family does not know how to handle the situation. They are curious about the reason for Edward's visit.
The suspense ends when Edward informs them of Lucy's marriage to Robert. The news astounds them, but they are relieved. Elinor experiences a surge of emotion, and for once, she loses control. She runs out of the room and bursts into tears. Edward, shocked to see his beloved in distress, leaves the house abruptly. Both his entry and exit are quite dramatic. The Dashwoods are too dazed to react to the situation.
Within a few hours of his arrival at the cottage, Edward proposes to Elinor and gets her consent. He is exhilarated and content. He relates the story of his encounter with Lucy and his secret engagement to her. He talks about having regretted his decision later. However, in order to keep up his commitment to her, he had agreed to marry her. A few days later she released him from his obligation by informing him of her marriage to Robert. Edward, relieved and absolutely overjoyed, had traveled to Barton to meet Elinor.
Edward's revelation leaves the Dashwoods ecstatic. Colonel Brandon arrives and is told about the turn of events. He is glad that he will be helping Elinor by providing a position for Edward at Delaford. Shortly afterwards, Mrs. Dashwood receives two letters, one from Mrs. Jennings and one from John Dashwood. In her letter Mrs. Jennings condemns Lucy's actions and sympathizes with the plight of Edward. John Dashwood writes about the repercussions of the marriage on Fanny and her mother. Mrs. Ferrars has severed all relations with Robert. He suggests to Edward that by writing a letter of apology to Mrs. Ferrars, he will be able to earn back her favor. After discussing the matter with Elinor, Edward decides to go in person to meet his sister and mother. Before undertaking the journey to Norland, he accompanies Colonel Brandon to Delaford to settle the matter of his position.
Edward comes back to Elinor like a penitent lover. He apologizes for his behavior and reveals his true feelings for her. Elinor forgives him easily and accepts him unconditionally. Both Edward's conduct and Elinor's acceptance of his proposal may seem unconvincing. It is not clear why Edward should keep in touch with Lucy if he had not been in love with her and why he should come to spend time with Elinor at Barton if he was committed to Lucy. Elinor's passive acceptance of Edward's explanations and proposal is somewhat out of character for her. Elinor's usual good sense and reasoning ability fail to examine Edward's conduct.
Lucy's selfishness and cunning is exposed not only to Edward and the characters in the novel, but to the readers as well. She is a woman who is able to give her heart to any one who possesses wealth and respectability. Without an ounce of conscience, she transfers her affections from Edward to Robert.
Mrs. Ferrars excuses Edward and becomes reconciled to his marrying Elinor. She accepts his taking orders and grants him ten thousand pounds. With a sufficient income and a living at Delaford, Edward and Elinor get married early in the autumn. All their relatives, including Mrs. Jennings, pay them a visit. They find the couple leading a happy and contented life.
Lucy conquers the heart of Mrs. Ferrars through slyness and flattery. The old lady assists her and Robert liberally and also provides them with a home in town. Marianne is reconciled to the idea of marrying Colonel Brandon and soon becomes a devoted wife. Willoughby feels distressed to hear about Marianne's marriage to Colonel Brandon, as he still admires her. Mrs. Dashwood retains her cottage at Barton although she keeps making visits to Delaford. Margaret grows up into a charming girl and provides delightful company to the Middletons and Mrs. Jennings.
Jane Austen concludes the novel on a happy note. All the leading characters get settled in life after their problems have been sorted out. Edward acquires sufficient financial support and settles down with Elinor in Delaford. Marianne marries Colonel Brandon and becomes the mistress of Delaford mansion. Mrs. Dashwood is a contented mother, dividing her time between three daughters.
Even minor characters get more than their due. Robert and Lucy settle down in the lap of luxury. The two of them, lacking intelligence and taste, resemble Shakespeare's Audrey and Touchstone in As You Like it.
Jane Austen is generous in her treatment of Willoughby. He remembers Marianne with fondness and appears disappointed, but leads a comfortable life. The novel ends like a fairy tale, except for the fact that both good and bad characters are blessed.