Study Guide

Sense and Sensibility Chapter 17

By Jane Austen

Chapter 17

  • Mrs. Dashwood is pleasantly surprised by Edward's appearance – but not too surprised, since she takes it for granted that he's in love with Elinor. Under her affectionate gaze, he can't help but become more like his previous self, and Elinor is relieved that he's back to normal.
  • Mrs. Dashwood asks a rather sensitive question – what are Mrs. Ferrars's plans for her eldest son? Are her expectations still too high?
  • Edward tells them that he still doesn't have any ambition, except to live moderately and happily.
  • Elinor and Marianne have another spat, this time about how much money one requires to live well – Elinor's estimated sum is about half of what her sister requires.
  • Marianne describes her reasons for needing two thousand pounds a year, including horses for hunting – and they match up exactly with what she and Willoughby would require at his home, Combe Magna.
  • Margaret comes up with a great solution – someone should come along and give them all a huge fortune each.
  • Margaret and Mrs. Dashwood wonder what they would spend all the money on. Marianne looks as though she already knows.
  • Edward guesses that Elinor would spend all of hers on fine art, and Marianne would buy tons of music and books. He teases the sisters easily, and Marianne seems to cheer up a bit.
  • Elinor and Edward affectionately analyze Marianne's character (even though she's right there). Marianne steps in to criticize how much stock Elinor puts in other people's opinions.
  • Edward admits that he himself is perhaps a little too shy – Marianne comes out and says that he's too reserved. He's thrown off and is embarrassed by this claim.