Study Guide

Sense and Sensibility Chapter 46

By Jane Austen

Chapter 46

  • Marianne improves rapidly, and soon receives a visit from Colonel Brandon. Her mother anxiously looks on, seeking signs of love. She believes that Marianne's attitude towards the Colonel is starting to change.
  • Mrs. Dashwood begins to make plans to go back to Barton with her daughters. Mrs. Jennings and Colonel Brandon insist that the Dashwoods take his carriage to make their journey easier. He promises to make a visit to the cottage at Barton soon.
  • As they leave for home, Marianne says goodbye fondly to Mrs. Jennings, and quite cordially to Colonel Brandon. After the Dashwoods leave, Mrs. Jennings and Colonel Brandon are left to their own devices; he goes home to Delaford, and she gossips with her maid.
  • The Dashwoods take two days for their trip home, and Marianne seems particularly calm. Elinor is especially grateful for Marianne's seeming mental health.
  • When they get home, Marianne seems sad, but otherwise OK – she appears to have decided to get over Willoughby. Everything reminds her of him, but she tries to get past these memories.
  • The next day, Marianne is optimistic, and she and Elinor make plans to talk long walks and have a good summer. Marianne is determined to be more serious, and devote her time to reading and music.
  • Elinor is pleased that her sister is taking her life seriously, instead of lolling around, indulging in her romantic fantasies. The only thing that mars her happiness is her promise to Willoughby, that she will tell Marianne everything.
  • One day, the two sisters go for a walk. They pass the place where Marianne first met Willoughby, which sets her off on a pensive train of thought. She says that she would simply like to know that he actually felt something for her sometime. Elinor, happy with this statement, wants to know if it would settle Marianne's mind to know this.
  • Marianne says it would, and Elinor wonders if she should tell all to her sister. Marianne goes on – apparently, her illness has made her think over a lot of things.
  • She's realized that her own emotional weakness and imprudence are what led her to her own situation, and that she almost caused her own death by foolishness. She feels bad for everything she's put Elinor and Mrs. Dashwood through. Furthermore, she feels terrible for all the friends she's slighted or been rude to – the Middletons, Mrs. Jennings, the Palmers, the Steeles, and even John and Fanny.
  • Most of all, Marianne feels as though she's wronged the people who mean the most to her – Elinor and their mother. She should have paid more attention to Elinor's behavior, and tried to be more like her. Even when she knew Elinor was unhappy, she wasn't sympathetic enough to her, and was too wrapped up in her own concerns about Willoughby.
  • Elinor tells her sister that she shouldn't worry about it, and praises her for being so honest with herself.
  • Marianne vows to be better in the future, and to be more like her sister. With regards to Willoughby, she promises that she will do her best to get over him. She only wishes she knew what had gone on with him, as it would make things easier for her.
  • That's Elinor's cue. She reveals everything Willoughby told her, and observes her sister's reaction: Marianne is struck by it, and is clearly incredibly sad. She has a ton of questions, and weeps profusely. However, this behavior is much more measured and under control than the old Marianne.
  • When the sisters get home, Marianne goes to her room to try and make sense of all of this, asking Elinor to tell their mother the whole story.