Study Guide

Sense and Sensibility Chapter 16

By Jane Austen

Chapter 16

  • Marianne mopes around dramatically for the next few days, yearning tragicomically for Willoughby.
  • Days pass, and no letter from Willoughby arrives. Mrs. Dashwood and Elinor are both surprised; Mom passes it off as necessary secrecy between the two forbidden lovers, but Elinor is worried that there's something else going on. She wants her mother to ask Marianne if they're actually engaged, once and for all.
  • Sir John and Mrs. Jennings tactlessly remind of Marianne for her abandonment by her supposed fiancé. The Dashwoods try not to bring Willoughby up in front of Marianne, but one day Mrs. Dashwood lets a reference to him slip, and Marianne basically freaks out.
  • One day, Marianne and her sisters are on a walk through the countryside. They see a horseman in the distance – who could it be?
  • Marianne, of course, is totally convinced that it's Willoughby; Elinor doesn't think so.
  • The mystery man turns out to be Edward Ferrars. Marianne is horribly disappointed, but she's happy for Elinor's sake that Edward has come to visit.
  • Marianne is surprised by Edward and Elinor's rather tepid meeting. She can't understand how the two of them aren't overjoyed. She immediately forgets her pleasure at finding Edward here, and returns to mooning over Willoughby.
  • It turns out that Edward has actually been in the area for two weeks – so why hasn't he come to see them yet, huh?
  • Apparently he's been staying with other friends in Plymouth, and before then, he'd been at Norland, the Dashwoods' old home.
  • Marianne gushes about Norland, then moves on and gushes about their new home, Barton. Edward makes a practical comment about the house that's a little too practical for Marianne's poetic taste, and she puzzles over his unromantic attitude.
  • Edward then asks about the neighbors, and Marianne and Elinor clash – Marianne puts down the Middletons, but Elinor comes to their defense.
  • Elinor is secretly offended by Edward's coldness towards her, and can't understand why he's being so standoffish. She responds likewise to him.