Study Guide

Sense and Sensibility Chapter 40

By Jane Austen

Chapter 40

  • As soon as the Colonel leaves, Mrs. Jennings pounces upon Elinor, demanding to know what happened between them. Elinor praises the Colonel, saying that he's an exceptional man. There's a misunderstanding: Mrs. Jennings still thinks that Elinor and the Colonel are engaged, while Elinor is thinking of Edward's new lease on life. Mrs. Jennings leaves, after Elinor tells her not to say a word of the news to anyone, not even Lucy.
  • Elinor says she has to write first to Edward (thinking of the curacy at Delaford), which Mrs. Jennings finds rather odd, considering what she thinks has happened. Mrs. Jennings figures that Elinor wants Edward to be ordained so that he can perform the marriage ceremony.
  • After all this confusion, Mrs. Jennings leaves, then returns, saying that she knows a woman who could be a good lady's maid – she means for Elinor, but Elinor thinks she means for Lucy. Whew! We're a little confused, too.
  • As Elinor sits down to write her letter of good news to Edward, he himself shows up at her door. She's totally shocked.
  • Edward has come by to say goodbye – he's on his way out of London (to go work on getting ordained in Oxford), and wanted to see Elinor and Marianne one last time.
  • Elinor delivers her good news about Colonel Brandon's offer. Edward is astonished and doesn't know what to say. Elinor assures him of Colonel Brandon's good character, and says that he'll be a great neighbor to have. Edward looks oddly serious for a man who just got offered a job – clearly, he also believes that Elinor is engaged to the Colonel.
  • Edward asks for Colonel Brandon's address, and goes off to thank him.
  • Elinor resigns herself to the fact that the next time she sees Edward, he'll be married to Lucy.
  • Mrs. Jennings comes home, practically bursting with her untold secret (or her imagined secret about Elinor and Colonel Brandon). They keep talking in their confused way about the matters at hand.
  • Elinor says that the situation has to wait two or three months while Edward gets ordained; Mrs. Jennings is surprised that Colonel Brandon is willing to wait so long – can't they find someone else who's already ordained? Elinor is taken aback by this suggestion; after all, the point of all of this is to help Edward.
  • Mrs. Jennings is shocked: is Colonel Brandon marrying Elinor simply to help Edward out?
  • This question makes the misunderstanding clear – Elinor explains the facts of the situation to Mrs. Jennings, who's pleased by the news that the Colonel is helping Edward and Lucy. However, she still has hopes that Elinor and the Colonel will make a match.