Wow—Elinor really loves Edward. She forgives him everything. She excuses everything. She believes him ensnared by Lucy and ensnared by his own propriety of becoming engaged too young, so is now unable to get out of it.
Is she being too kind? Too unrealistic? I find it astounding that she places zero blame upon him. I wonder how much of that is her own affection for him, and knowledge of his affection for her, and how much is her dislike of Lucy and not believing he could still be interested in her?
The critic David Kaufmann suggests that the reason Elinor is able to maintain her emotional calm around her family and Lucy is because “Given her powerlessness in relation to Edward and Lucy, she can only exert control over herself.” I think these chapters are a masterclass in how to behave with the enemy.
I was glad to see that Elinor is not stupid, and that she completely understands that Lucy has an ulterior motive (if not several reasons) for sharing this devastating information with Elinor.
What an amazing chapter which consists primarily of a a powerful and treacherous conversation! Elinor is acting a part and is being quite unElinor-like. Yes, she is exhibiting extreme self-control, but she is also not always telling the truth. I don’t blame her, and in fact, hold her in great esteem. She is taking care of herself. She is gathering information, and she is holding herself back. She is like a spy.
Elinor is behaving her role admirably, but it nearly comes undone by actually a quite brilliantly cutting remark from Anne (and I wonder, was this on purpose on Anne’s part or an accident? I would not have thought she was clever enough, but I think this was deliberate).
“A great coxcomb!” repeated Miss Steele, whose ear had caught those words by a sudden pause in Marianne’s music.— “Oh, they are talking of their favourite beaux, I dare say.”
“No sister,” cried Lucy, “you are mistaken there, our favourite beaux are NOT great coxcombs.”
“I can answer for it that Miss Dashwood’s is not,” said Mrs. Jennings, laughing heartily; “for he is one of the modestest, prettiest behaved young men I ever saw; but as for Lucy, she is such a sly little creature, there is no finding out who SHE likes.”
“Oh,” cried Miss Steele, looking significantly round at them, “I dare say Lucy’s beau is quite as modest and pretty behaved as Miss Dashwood’s.”
Elinor blushed in spite of herself. Lucy bit her lip, and looked angrily at her sister. A mutual silence took place for some time. Lucy first put an end to it by saying in a lower tone, though Marianne was then giving them the powerful protection of a very magnificent concerto—
I love that both women were stunned and embarrassed by this remark, of course for different reasons. Whew!
What game is Lucy playing when she begs Elinor to advise her as to whether or not to end the engagement? I’m assuming she is playing a game. She is a like a cat toying with an injured animal. But Elinor doesn’t take the bait. She is better than Lucy and is already working on separating herself emotionally from Edward. The chapter states:
and the confidential discourse of the two ladies was therefore at an end, to which both of them submitted without any reluctance, for nothing had been said on either side to make them dislike each other less than they had done before[…]
For Elinor, the relationship with Lucy is over. We are told that over time, Lucy attempts to bring up the topic of Edward repeatedly, and Elinor manages to talk very briefly each time, but ends up ending the topic for “for she felt such conversations to be an indulgence which Lucy did not deserve, and which were dangerous to herself.”
I hate Lucy Steele.
For me, this was a silly and exhausting chapter. Not that it was a bad chapter, but if I were Elinor, I would have wanted to just stay in my room. Elinor does not want to go to London, in part because she would be spending days and weeks with people who already annoyed her at the Park and now she would get to spend more time with them in London. Also, while being slightly fond of Mrs. Jennings, still, not the best role model.
But, since Elinor is the sensible one, she feels the need to be there to protect her sister who is being rather crazed about going to London. Elinor gets it—something is afoot and Marianne will do foolish things.
So now, we can contemplate, what will happen in London? Good or bad for our heroines?
2 thoughts on “Sense and Sensibility Vol. 2 Chapters 1-3”
I Love Lucy….not. From Elinor we get that Lucy is uneducated and unsophisticated (my words). So I just have to let Lucy be Lucy. What I noted in these chapters, and you pointed it out, is Elinor in action. Protecting herself. Playing a game. Fully functioning and self-regulating. Having a multitude of reasons for wishing to engage with Lucy on the topic of Edward.
When Lucy says to Elinor that she, Lucy, will happily break off the relationship with Edward should Elinor say the word, I felt very uncomfortable, for I think I have been that naive before…entrusting someone, a third person, to the wisdom of my relationship with another? No. Way. It’s a sign of immaturity, and I was glad to see Elinor not falling into that murky realm. (But what a switch in the novel were it that Elinor said, okay, Lucy, dump him….)
I don’t know why Elinor excuses Edward for what he might have done. Could it be that Austen writes characters who see and know more about other characters than we are allowed to see and know? Yes, I think that’s a possible technique, just to drive us crazy and keep us interested in the mystery. Maybe not. What the deal is for me is that this novel is at this point about Elinor and what will happen to her. I am so much less interested in Marianne now, except to watch Miss Emotional go nuts waiting for Willoughby.
I so enjoy reading your thoughts. Miss Emotional–absolutely.
As for Elinor and Edward. Lots of critics are uncomfortable with Elinor’s acceptance (?) of Edward despite everything. Here is my argument at the moment: Marianne trusts W, kind of no matter what and will make excuses for him. Though Elinor is very different from Marianne, I think in this way, they are similar. Elinor believes in her relationship with Edward. They did become close (though in no way engaged). She trusts her own judgment of people and doesn’t believe she could be misled. Also, as someone who holds her cards close to her chest, I think she sees this in Edward? She can respect that someone would not share everything? I think she is bending over backwards to give him the benefit of the doubt.
I think all of this is quite difficult. The last we see of Edward is that he has difficulty making up his mind. He can’t find a profession, and he is too diffident. What does Elinor see in him? But she sees his kindness and his good mind, and her family does as well. I guess Elinor is trusting to this vision of him. IT could be all wrong. She could be completely incorrect, but she is holding firm.