Sense and Sensibility Vol. 2 Chapters 10-12

Chapter 10

Again—Jane does not disappoint. So much is happening in these three chapters. Her sustaining of conflict is admirable.

So much fun—our foray into farce and absurdity.

Marianne no longer defends Willoughby after learning of his abysmal treatment of Brandon’s relation. Good—Marianne is such a changeable character, I didn’t no what to predict.

Mom thinks they should stay in London—and maybe she is right. Of course, as always, it is Elinor who suffers. ON the other hand, Elinor doesn’t share her feelings or situation. Knowing her family, I think this makes sense; on the other, they don’t know how she suffers. It’s an interesting conundrum.

The friends are actually kind to Marianne, kinder than I would expect. In this case, again, mom is right and Elinor not correct. On the other hand, the friends increase their raillery against her. But, as they too don’t know the truth…. Also interesting is that Lady Middleton is the easiest person to put up with:

Every qualification is raised at times, by the circumstances of the moment, to more than its real value; and she was sometimes worried down by officious condolence to rate good-breeding as more indispensable to comfort than good-nature.

Add to it that Lady Middleton cares for nobody but her own horrific children, and she’s perfect.

Added to the  difficulties is that Mrs. Jennings has decided that Col. Brandon and Elinor are meant to be together, and she has them married within 6 months.

The Steeles return. For reasons I do not understand, one of the first things I think about when I think of the novel is Anne and the doctor and how she enjoys being teased about his attentions. My brain will not let this go, much as Anne does not want the teasing to stop.  More important, of course, is Lucy and how sly and mean she is. Is it that she is jealous of Elinor? Or does she just enjoy having power over someone? Does she resent Elinor for being a better person than she is? None of these are exactly right. What do you think?

Chapter 11

Can somebody, as if you are speaking to a five year old, explain to me what bespeak and bespoke mean? We use bespoke more commonly in the 21st century. I know in Austen’s use in this chapter it meant “order,” but reasons I don’t understand, my brain glitches whenever I hear this word. Commonly, I’ve heard the phrase “bespoke tailor.” Not sure why I can’t wrap my brain around this.

We learn, again, in this chapter and the next, how Austen feels about the very rich. John Dashwood, who owes his step-sisters so much, does absolutely zero for them, and manages to both show off how much money he has and how he has increased it, while at the same time pleading poverty.  My notes explain that part of John’s recent increase in wealth comes from inclosure. This was the practice where land that had been held (or at least treated) commonly for use of all, gets fenced in by the wealthy landowner. Now the water and the grass is for his animals, and the oppressed farmers  no longer have access increasing their poverty. This is exactly the sort of thing we would expect John Dashwood to do.

It is an amazing performance. For John, everything is about money. There is no friendship, no romance, no meeting with anyone where money is not the key object or discussion point. It is really appalling. And, he still manages to slip in how upsetting it is that his family had to purchase linens and silver since Elinor’s family so selfishly removed things from the home.

John agrees with Mrs. Jennings in that Elinor should be with Brandon. Because money.

And it is in talking to her brother, that Elinor learns that Edward is betrothed to a Miss Morten, who has 30,000 pounds so is thereby incredibly desirable.

Edward, who is by no means a player, sure seems to get around.

Everything is a commodity to John. The friendship with Mrs. Jennings is valuable only in what she might leave the young ladies. Marianne, because of her illness, is no longer as beautiful as she once was and cannot expect to get paid as much as she would have previously. She’ll probably only go for 5 or 600 pounds which is real shame.


Chapter 12

Something else in Mrs. Jennings favor: her attitude towards Fanny is not warm.

Interesting to me is that Fanny knows about Edward’s affection to Elinor. That surprised me. It certainly didn’t seem like something Edward would share with her—so I think that indicates that everyone who saw them together were aware of the attraction.

The party that Austen creates is delicious and would have been only more perfect if Edward were there. Such a gathering of mostly terrible people who should really, for the most part, dislike each other, and poor Elinor, though because she had stepped back and away can observe with some pleasure, what is happening. Lucy desperately wants to twist the knife, and Elinor gives her no satisfaction. That was delightful to me. Elinor also discovers that she actually despises Edward’s mother, so part of her is thinking, “that was some escape!”

So much to love here, but I will point out Austen’s extremely negative opinions of Middleton, Fanny, and Edward’s mom as wanting in sense, temper, elegance… and Marianne’s comment on the stupid argument over the height of the boys “that she has no opinion to give as she had never thought of it.” I do think I am much closer to Elinor than Marianne in spirit, but I would definitely (and have) made such remarks. Good for you, Marianne!

Marianne’s defense of her sister is wonderful and so inappropriate. Of course, she is right though for reasons I don’t quite get, Elinor is wounded by all of this. Now I feel the need to slap her.

We end perfectly with Marianne bursting into tears and John Dashwood, who always understands exactly what is happening, talking eagerly to Col. Brandon on how Marianne has lost her looks and how robust Elinor is. Ah, romance.

One thought on “Sense and Sensibility Vol. 2 Chapters 10-12”

  1. These chapters were great. There are so much rich sentences and lines, but I am super exhausted so just want to highlight here some things the I hope speak to your thoughts.

    I especially liked the characters’ reactions to the news of W’s marriage. It was very funny; I think Austen is having fun showing us characters who HATE other characters but aren’t very forceful about expressing how much (‘I can’t believe I offered that dude a puppy once!!’). I like how Mrs. Littleton keeps herself uninvolved emotionally by saying something grand every day (‘yes, it was a tragedy’ and nothing more…she is in one way wise about staying on the fringes so she can serve her children or something).

    Just as much…the oddly delicious scene in the jewelry store with Mr. Bon Vivant Snot Head over his friggin’ toothpick case (OMG I could only conjecture how absolutely important toothpicks cases were back then given, what, a lack of Colgate?) was fabulous. If I saw a film adaptation of S&S, I would be on pins and needles waiting for this scene.

    Elinor and Marianne’s brother John=total jerk. Money, money, money. I’m sick of it in general in life and sick of it in this novel. OMG, why does EVERYONE know what EVERYONE is worth? I find that shocking and frankly unbelievable, but it’s real, yes? Austen….what does she think about money????

    Here’s my best attempt at ‘bespoke’: To bespeak means to call out, to ask for. To be bespoken is to be asked for (engaged). For an object to be bespoken (a bespoke cabinet) it was called for in advance, arranged for ahead of time, and therefore, is a custom-mad/hand-made/made-to-order thing. People who make bespoke(n) items are called bespoke as well. A bespoke seamstress making a bespoken dress for a bespoken woman. That’s a lot of be-speaking! It’s an odd word, really odd.

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