Study Guide

Sense and Sensibility Chapter 23

By Jane Austen

Chapter 23

  • Elinor, sadly, has no grounds for doubt left…it's definitely Edward that Lucy Steele is engaged to. Her feelings are all over the place – has Edward deceived her? Does he really care for Lucy at all? After all, everyone else is also sure that Edward loves Elinor – so what's going on, anyway?
  • Elinor also feels bad for Edward; after all, he's the one who going to be stuck with uneducated, shrewd Lucy Steele. Even if he was infatuated with her as a teenager, what must he think now? Furthermore, what's going to happen when they've been married for years and years? Also, there's the problem of Edward's snobby mom, who'll surely have a conniption fit when she finds out that he's engaged to Lucy, who's inferior to Elinor in social station.
  • All things considered, Elinor feels worse for Edward than for herself. She resolves to keep her troubles from Marianne and Mrs. Dashwood, figuring that they can't possibly help her with any of this.
  • Elinor resolves to talk more to Lucy about this whole thing. She wants to see how much Lucy actually cares for Edward. Elinor also has a sneaking suspicion that Lucy might be jealous of her, given how much Edward praises her, as well as Sir John's jokes about how she and Edward are in love.
  • Unfortunately, there are very few chances to talk privately with Lucy, since Sir John and Lady Middleton keep everyone busy with dinners, games, and group activities.
  • One day, though, Lady Middleton invites all of the young ladies over to keep her company at dinner while Sir John hangs out with his guy friends. It turns out to be quite a dull gathering, but Elinor hopes to find a chance to talk to Lucy alone.
  • Lucy, taking a hint from Lady Middleton, says she's going to work on a basket she's making for Annamaria, while everyone else (except Marianne, who rather rudely excuses herself to go play the piano) plays cards. Elinor takes this opportunity to also opt out of the card game, saying that she'll go help Lucy with her task.
  • Lucy and Elinor settle down to work (and talk privately) near the piano, so nobody else will hear their conversation.