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summary of the story. If
you'd prefer to skip straight to the text of the novel, click here:
|Sense and Sensibility - the
An invitation to Town and the
revelation of Willoughby's character
A secret is revealed and some
disinheriting goes on
A misunderstanding is
revealed, resulting in a happy ending
Setting the scene...
live in Sussex - mother and three daughters, Elinor, Marianne and
Margaret. Mrs Dashwood is recently widowed and about to be forced to
move out of her house by her stepson John and his wife, who have
inherited the house and arrive to take possession of it. Mrs John
Dashwood is particularly tactless about this and very protective of her
own son's rights (he is only a child).
widowed Mrs Dashwood is
distraught and her second daughter Marianne joins her in weeping and
wailing about the whole business. Elinor, the eldest daughter, is much
more sensible and practical about it. Margaret, who is only thirteen,
romantic view on life.
thinking of settling some money on his stepsisters, but his wife talks
him out of it. Consequently, Mrs Dashwood and her daughter are left
with a relatively small income.
brother, Edward Ferrars, pays them a visit, and he and Elinor appear to
be falling in love, much to her mother's delight and his sister's
disgust. The two Mrs Dashwoods have a bit of a row about it, and are
soon hardly on speaking terms.
gentlemen depart for Town and some visitors arrive
- Mrs Dashwood and her
daughters are offered a cottage
Devonshire by one of Mrs Dashwood's cousins. She accepts at once in
order to get away from her daughter-in-law. They depart within a few
weeks, which pleases Mrs John Dashwood very much, and take with them
their furniture and china, which doesn't
please her at all since she was hoping to acquire it. Edward Ferrars
promises to visit them. However, he is dependent on his mother
his income, and Elinor has been warned by her sister-in-law that
he cannot marry without her approval.
- On arrival at their new home, they are introduced
to Mrs Dashwood's cousin,Sir John Middleton, and his wife and family.
They go to Sir John's house, Barton Park, for dinner, where they meet
Brandon, a friend of Sir John's, and Mrs Jennings, Lady Middleton's
mother. Mrs Jennings immediately decides that Marianne would be a
suitable wife for the Colonel but Marianne thinks he is far too old for
her (he's 35, she's nearly 17).
- When out for a walk and caught in the rain, Marianne
rescued by Mr Willoughby, who is young, handsome and apparently
respectable. He seems to her to be much more fun than Colonel
Brandon. She rapidly falls in love with him and an engagement seems
An invitation to
Town and the revelation of Willoughby's character
Brandon has to
leave suddenly for London. Mrs Jennings tells everyone that it is to
see his illegitimate daughter, Miss Williams, but no one knows if this
is really the case.
their behaviour that Marianne and Mr Willoughby are engaged, but
nothing has been said. Then Mr Willoughby too suddenly leaves for
London, saying he does not know when he will be back. Marianne is
distraught and Elinor and Mrs Dashwood cannot understand what has
happened. Marianne gets teased about her absent lover, especially by
Ferrars arrives for a visit. He seems a bit quiet and not his usual
self. His relationship with Elinor doesn't seem to progress at all, but
she thinks he is still in love with her.
leaves, Mrs Jennings' younger daughter, Mrs Palmer, arrives for a visit
at Barton Park with her husband. She is young and silly; her husband
appears to despise everyone and everything, including his wife. After
they leave, the Miss Steeles arrive for a visit. Elinor discovers
that they know Edward Ferrars, and much to her horror,
Lucy Steele tells her that she has been secretly engaged to
Edward for the previous four years. Elinor manages to hide her own feelings and hopes
regarding Edward from
Lucy, but privately she is very upset. Since Lucy told her this in
confidence, Elinor cannot confide in anyone.
A secret is
revealed and some disinheriting goes on
Elinor and Marianne to join her in London for the winter. Elinor is
reluctant; Marianne is delighted. Mrs Dashwood insists on the
invitation being accepted and off they go.
soon as they
arrive, Marianne writes a secret
note to Willoughby. But he does not call or reply to her note.
Eventually they meet him at a party, but he is
embarrassed to see them, and clearly is no longer in love with
Marianne. The following morning, Marianne writes to him again, but he
writes back to say he is not in love with her, never has been and is
returning her earlier letters. Marianne is distraught and collapses in
weeks, Mr Willoughby marries an heiress and leaves London. Meanwhile,
Colonel Brandon has confided to Elinor that Miss Williams is in fact
the illegitimate daughter of his brother's wife. He has recently
that Miss Williams has been seduced and abandoned by none other than Mr
Willoughby. Willoughby is now confirmed as a complete bounder, which
even Marianne has to admit, but she is still struggling to get over him.
more of their
friends and relations arrive in Town: Sir John and Lady Middleton, the
Miss Steeles and Mr and Mrs John Dashwood. Mr and Mrs Dashwood hold a
dinner party, to which the Miss Dashwoods, the Miss Steeles,
the Middletons and Mrs Jennings are invited, as well as Mrs Ferrars. It
has been put about that Edward Ferrars may well marry Miss Morton, a
wealthy heiress who meets with his mother's approval.
Edward Ferrars calls on the Miss Dashwoods. Unfortunately, Lucy Steele
is already there, and stubbornly stays until after he has left, much to
Marianne's indignation, who considers him Elinor's property. It's the
first time Elinor has seen Lucy and Edward together. She
feels strongly that he is not in love with Lucy, but as an honourable
man, having asked her to marry him and been accepted, he must stick
misunderstanding is revealed, resulting in a happy ending
invites the Miss Steeles to stay with her. Encouraged by this kindness,
which in reality was only to avoid asking the Miss Dashwoods instead,
Lucy's elder sister lets out the secret of Lucy's engagement
Edward. Mrs Dashwood falls into hysterics and banishes the Miss Steeles
from the house. Mrs Ferrars summons Edward, and when he refuses to
break the engagement, disinherits him on the spot in favour of his
younger brother, Robert.
opportunity of breaking the engagement, since he has no money, but Lucy
still wants to hang onto him. Edward decides to be ordained as a
priest, and on hearing
this, Colonel Brandon offers him the living at Delaford, his own
estate. He asks Elinor to make the offer on his behalf; Edward
accepts. He still won't have much money, though.
leave London with Mrs Palmer; she is to take them as far as her house
at Cleveland, near Bristol, and they will make their way home from
there. At Cleveland, Marianne falls dangerously ill, and Colonel
Brandon is sent to fetch her mother. The Palmers go to stay elsewhere
to avoid infection, and before Colonel Brandon and Mrs Dashwood have
time to return, an unexpected visitor arrives - Mr Willoughby. He
explains to Elinor that he does love Marianne, but was forced to marry
for money after being disinherited by his cousin when she discovered
his affair with and his abandonment of Miss Williams.
the Dashwoods return home to Barton. Soon afterwards, Lucy is seen in
Exeter, recently married to Mr Ferrars.
arrives at the cottage, and reveals that Lucy is married, not to
himself, but to his brother, Robert Ferrars. He promptly proposes to
Elinor, who accepts. Mrs Ferrars relents and gives them some
money, but not as much as Edward would have had before. Robert has
always been her favourite, and he and Lucy are soon back in favour with
and Edward are
married and move to Delaford. Mrs Dashwood, Marianne and Margaret are
frequent visitors there. Marianne is therefore constantly thrown
together with Colonel Brandon, and eventually realises how much he
loves her. She is not as passionately attached to him as she was to
Willoughby, but does come to love him and they are very happy.
with his rich wife; he is not unhappy, exactly, but never forgets
Marianne and thinks of her as the perfect woman.
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