Study Guide

Sense and Sensibility Chapter 8

By Jane Austen

Chapter 8

  • Mrs. Jennings is a chatty old gossip with a heart of gold. Having found husbands for her two daughters, she now embarks upon the mission of marrying off all the other eligible young ladies of her acquaintance. Next up: Elinor and Marianne.
  • Mrs. Jennings is certain that Colonel Brandon is head over heels in love with Marianne. She immediately decides that they should get married.
  • She then delights in poking fun at both sides of this pair – much to everyone's embarrassment.
  • Marianne finds Mrs. Jennings' jokes both funny and offensive, given Colonel Brandon's advanced age. Mrs. Dashwood (who's only five years older than the Colonel herself) finds it necessary to remind her ageist daughter that the guy isn't exactly at death's door.
  • Marianne counters that he's old enough to be her father – shouldn't his "age and infirmity" protect him from mockery?
  • Here, Elinor also steps in to defend the Colonel, who, it must be said, is far from "infirm," even if he has rheumatism.
  • Marianne, rather heartlessly, admits that Colonel Brandon isn't about to die (yet), but claims that a man of 35 shouldn't be thinking about marriage at his age. Elinor cautiously agrees that perhaps a man his age shouldn't marry a young girl, but that he should be allowed to marry an older lady of 27 or so.
  • Marianne concedes that this would be OK – after all, a woman who's unmarried at 27 is practically dead to the world, so it would be a marriage of convenience, in which the couple could provide company for each other in their declining years. We have to wonder what Marianne would think of marriage in our modern world – after all, it's not unusual for men and women to get married after 30 nowadays!
  • Elinor tries futilely to convince her sister that 30 isn't the end of life as we know it, then gives up and heads out.
  • Once her sister's gone, Marianne brings up Edward Ferrars – he hasn't come to visit them at Barton Cottage yet. What could possibly be preventing him?
  • Marianne can't understand her sister's apparent lack of emotion with regards to her erstwhile suitor. Doesn't Elinor feel anything at all?