Thursday, November 18, 2010

Sense & Sensibility, Volume II, chapter 14 (ch 36)

As Volume II of Sense & Sensibility draws to a close, you can see Austen lifting that other shoe just a touch higher, and you can sense that it is getting ready to drop. Were you reading this in three actual volumes, you would, of course, have to proceed to Volume III, because the stage is set for Major Drama to unfold.

Here, in list form, is the new information in this chapter:

1. The Palmers are parents, having had a baby boy.

2. Toothpick Dandy from chapter 33 (or Vol. II, ch 11) turns out to be Robert Ferrars, Edward's younger brother.

3. Robert Ferrars is every bit as much of a prat as you thought he might be.

4. John Dashwood has just enough conscience to broach the subject of asking his sisters to come stay with them, but not enough spine to support that wee bit of conscience.

5. The Steele Sisters are moving from Lady Middleton's house to the home of John and Fanny Dashwood. Lucy believes it means she'll be in like Flynn with the Ferrars family in no time. Elinor begins to think the same, reasoning that the invitation can't be based solely on Fanny's dislike of her and Marianne. (Elinor is, we know, incorrect - it is PRECISELY to get out of inviting the Misses Dashwood that the Misses Steeles have been invited.)

6. Marianne continues to fare poorly. She goes out, of course, going through the motions that are expected of her, but she continues to be out of it, paying little attention to her surroundings or her appearance. This does not bode well.


Same as it ever was:

Or, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

1. Lady Middleton is vapid. And Austen cannot help but have another go at her:

Though nothing could be more polite than Lady Middleton's behaviour 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.
2. Mr Palmer likes to be contrary. According to Mrs Jennings, he won't allow that his son looks like any of his family members, or even admit that he's the best-looking baby ever.

3. John Dashwood is deluding himself. He believes that he and his wife might invite his sisters to stay with them in the future. He also believes they won't really need to do so, because Elinor will marry Brandon.


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