Study Guide

Sense and Sensibility Chapter 36

By Jane Austen

Chapter 36

  • A few days later, a big announcement shows up in the papers – Mrs. Palmer has finally delivered her baby! Mrs. Jennings is immensely pleased, and is busy with her new grandchild. This leaves the Dashwoods on their own; they'd rather stay home, but everyone insists that they go hang out with Lady Middleton, Lucy, and the elder Miss Steele all day, every day.
  • Lady Middleton, it turns out, doesn't actually like the Dashwood girls, and even Miss Steele, who's actually quite easy to please, isn't such a fan – after all, they never want to gossip about guys with her.
  • Mrs. Jennings, however, thinks it's nice for all of her young friends to get to spend time together, and she thinks they're all having a great time. She herself is really enjoying her time with her daughter Charlotte Palmer and the new grandchild, despite the fact that Mr. Palmer insists that all babies look the same to him, even his own.
  • Around this time, another unhappy social situation arises: a friend of Fanny's invites Elinor and Marianne to a musical party, thinking that it'll be nice for Fanny. Little does this well-meaning friend know that Fanny doesn't like her sisters-in-law, and doesn't want them involved in her social circle.
  • Marianne's used to going out during the day and evening by now, and she gets ready for the party with the willing help of Miss Steele. She and Elinor are picked up by Fanny and John's carriage, and the Dashwoods all go to the party together.
  • Elinor isn't that interested in the party, since she's not musical. She passes the time by looking at her fellow partygoers – which happen to include the unpleasant young man from the jeweler's, who had stared so rudely at Elinor and Marianne as he ordered his idiotic toothpick case.
  • The offensive young man comes over with John, and is introduced as the mysterious third Ferrars sibling, Robert. Elinor observes mentally that he's just as arrogant as Lucy made him out to be.
  • Robert takes it upon himself to explain to Elinor why he is so much better than his brother, Edward (something about his fancy school). He then goes on to ask her about her family's cottage in Devonshire, exclaiming that he just loves cottages. He turns out to be a pompous name dropper.
  • John, observing his sisters, meekly asks Fanny if they might have Elinor and Marianne come and stay with them, since Mrs. Jennings is so busy. As usual, Fanny shoots him down immediately, claiming that they can't take the girls away from Lady Middleton. John responds that this is hardly a good reason, and in desperation, Fanny says that she's decided that she'd like to invite the Miss Steeles to stay instead.
  • John is convinced, and gives up his case. He hopes that next year Elinor will be married to Colonel Brandon, and that Marianne will be their guest.
  • The next morning, Fanny invites Lucy and Anne Steele to stay with them at their home in Harley Street for a few days. Lucy is perfectly happy, and is certain that this bodes well for her marriage to Edward. She shows Fanny's note to Elinor (of course), who begins to think that this might actually work.
  • Fanny becomes devoted to her new friends, and doesn't know what she'll do without them when they leave.