Study Guide

Sense and Sensibility Chapter 32

By Jane Austen

Chapter 32

  • Elinor tells Colonel Brandon's tale to Marianne, and though it doesn't immediately make her feel any better, it does make her treat the Colonel more kindly. But rather than her mood improving, she becomes more dejected instead, musing over Willoughby's warped character.
  • Mrs. Dashwood writes a series of melodramatic letters to her daughters, lamenting the situation.
  • Mrs. Dashwood thinks it's better for Marianne to stay away from Barton, where she might be reminded of her good times with Willoughby. She commands her daughters therefore to stay in town, where, in all likelihood, they won't run into Willoughby. Anyway, Fanny and John will be in town soon, and Mrs. Dashwood thinks it might be good for her daughters to see their brother.
  • Marianne agrees to follow her mother's advice, even though she'd expected to be encouraged to come home instead. At least, she thinks, Elinor will be able to see Edward. Elinor herself is worried about this very possibility.
  • Elinor's warnings to Mrs. Jennings not to bring up Willoughby apparently worked, and nobody mentions him in front of Marianne. In private, though, nobody can stop talking about it. Sir John and Mrs. Palmer can't believe that Willoughby is such a villain – they'd liked him all along, and look how he repays them! Everyone vows to stay away from him.
  • Mrs. Palmer responds by indignantly finding out all of the info on Willoughby's coming marriage, and sharing it with Elinor – a rather odd decision, we think.
  • Lady Middleton even shows a small amount of attention by calling the whole thing "a shocking matter." Privately, though, she decides that she will pay a visit to the future Mrs. Willoughby once they're married, since she'll be a lady of importance and elegance.
  • Colonel Brandon continues to be a good friend, and Mrs. Jennings begins to wonder if he's transferred his affections to Elinor.
  • Two weeks later, Willoughby is married. Elinor dutifully reports the news to Marianne, who takes it very hard.
  • To make matters worse, the two Miss Steeles have arrived in London. Elinor is forced to see them, rather against her will.
  • Lucy is delighted that Elinor is still in town, and tries to hint heavy-handedly that she would still like Elinor to try and intervene with John Dashwood to get the secret engagement approved.
  • Miss Steele, as usual, is occupied with frivolous talk of a new beau, a certain unfortunate Dr. Davies. She's as silly as ever.
  • Lucy is obviously disappointed to find that the Dashwoods will continue to be around for a while.
  • Miss Steele then inquires after Marianne – Elinor makes an excuse for her sister, who disappeared when their visitors arrived. Miss Steele suggests that they go up and visit Marianne in her room, but is shot down.