Study Guide

Sense and Sensibility Chapter 39

By Jane Austen

Chapter 39

  • Both Elinor and Marianne are anxious to leave London and go home to Barton. They're invited to go visit the Palmers at Cleveland with Mrs. Jennings, and Elinor accepts, thinking that it'll be better than staying in town.
  • Marianne, however, is of a different opinion – remember, Cleveland isn't too far away from Willoughby's home.
  • However, practicality wins out – since Cleveland is on the way home to Barton, they might as well stop there for a little while.
  • Mrs. Jennings urges the girls to return with her to London after the Cleveland visit, but they insist that they must go home afterwards.
  • Colonel Brandon stops by to visit after their plan is settled, and Mrs. Jennings sighs, asking him what they shall do once Elinor and Marianne have gone back to Barton.
  • Elinor and Colonel Brandon go aside to speak in private, and Mrs. Jennings is dying to know what they say – could he be proposing? She's thrilled. She assumes that the marriage is in the bag.
  • What actually happened, however, is a very different story. Colonel Brandon is concerned about Edward and the cruel punishment inflicted on him by his mother. The Colonel has taken a liking to Edward, especially because of his friendship with the Dashwoods. He wants to offer Edward the living (that is, the curate job) at Delaford, his country home. This would enable him to support himself, at least moderately.
  • Elinor is surprised and overcome – she's incredibly grateful to the Colonel.
  • Elinor agrees to deliver the news, saying that it will be welcome to both Edward and his bride. Colonel Brandon is surprised by this development; he's not sure that the Delaford living is enough to support Edward and a wife. It's clear that the wedding will have to be in the distant future.