Chapter Summaries

Chapter 1:

Austen fills in the story's background: Norland Park, in Sussex, was once occupied by its owner, a Mr. Dashwood, and by his nephew and his wife. The nephew had been married twice; by his first marriage he had a son and by his second, three daughters. When Mr. Dashwood died, he left Norland to his nephew, but secured it on his nephew's son. Just before the nephew's own death, he asks his son to look after his stepmother and three stepsisters, knowing that they will no longer be able to live at Norland. Mr. and Mrs. John Dashwood move into Norland, to which Mrs. Dashwood and her middle daughter, Marianne, react melodramatically. Elinor, the eldest daughter, who represents the "sense" side of the axiomatic title, takes it more philosophically.

Chapter 2:

John Dashwood invites his stepmother and stepsisters to stay at Norland as long as they like; nevertheless, they know it is only a matter of time before they will have to find somewhere else to live. John Dashwood considers his father's dying wish that his wife and daughters should be looked after and decides to give them one thousand pounds each. Mrs. John Dashwood persuades him that his father did not mean him to help them financially; she resents the idea that the money should not be spent on her own son.

Chapter 3:

We learn that Mrs. John Dashwood's brother, Edward Ferrars, has been staying at Norland and that he and Elinor are growing attached to each other. This causes Mrs. Dashwood to delay her plans for leaving Norland. She discusses Edward with Marianne, who likes him but does not think him passionate enough. Her own romantic nature could never be attracted to a man as quiet and reserved as Edward who has no talent for reading poetry aloud.

Chapter 4:

Marianne draws her sister out on the subject of Edward. Elinor speaks her feelings for him calmly, letting Marianne understand that they are not engaged and that, although she is almost convinced of Edward's affection for her, they may never be. Elinor knows that Edward is totally dependent on his mother, who expects him to marry well.

Mrs. John Dashwood has observed Elinor and Edward with alarm and remarks to Mrs. Dashwood that any alliance of his with a girl unequal to him in fortune will not be acceptable to his family. Mrs. Dashwood is incensed by such an insinuation and decides to leave Norland as soon as possible. Conveniently, her relation Sir John Middleton writes to offer her and her daughters a home in a cottage on his estate in Devon. She accepts immediately.

Chapter 5:

Mrs. Dashwood and the girls leave Norland.

Chapter 6:

They move into Barton Cottage and are visited by Sir John and Lady Middleton who invite them to dinner the next day.

Chapter 7:

The dinner-party at Barton Park also includes Mrs. Jennings, who is staying there, and a Colonel Brandon. Sir John is sociable but vulgar; his mother-in-law is like him and his wife is only interested in her children. Colonel Brandon is too old to be of interest to Marianne (he is over thirty-five), but he is a sensible, if grave, man.

Chapter 8:

Mrs. Jennings, who is a well-meaning but clumsy matchmaker, decides that Colonel Brandon is in love with Marianne, on the evidence that he has listened attentively to her playing the piano on two occasions. Marianne rejects the idea out of hand, saying that anyone of his age must have already used up all his capacity for passion. Later, she confides in her mother her concern that Edward has not yet visited them; she is amazed that Elinor does not appear to be pining for him.

Chapter 9:

While out walking, Marianne falls and sprains her ankle. She is carried home by a Mr. Willoughby, who happened to arrive on the scene at the very moment of her fall. His "manly beauty and more than common gracefulness" recommend him to the whole family, particularly to Mrs. Dashwood and Marianne, who are

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