Study Guide

Sense and Sensibility Chapter 9

By Jane Austen

Chapter 9

  • Everything settles down at Barton Cottage as the Dashwoods get used to their new home. They're always busy with household duties, and they don't really have much in the way of a social life. Sir John is their only frequent visitor, and there aren't too many people who live in the area. There is a beautiful old mansion in nearby Allenham that reminds them of Norland, but they haven't yet met its inhabitants.
  • The countryside is truly gorgeous, and the girls take advantage of it by taking long walks. One day, Marianne and Margaret go out to walk the hills and take in the sights.
  • After about twenty delightful minutes, the sisters are surprised by a sudden rainstorm. They turn back to head home, and take this opportunity to have some fun and race down the steep hill that leads to their gate.
  • Unfortunately, Marianne twists her ankle and tumbles down the hill. Margaret, carried by her momentum, can't stop to help her sister.
  • Fortunately, someone else is there to lend a hand. A young man, who's clearly been out hunting, stops to assist the damsel in distress. He carries her back to the house, and makes sure she's comfortably seated in the parlour.
  • Elinor and her mother are shocked by this stranger's arrival. They're both immediately charmed by his manners and appearance – he's young, handsome, and courteous. In short, he's the ideal bachelor.
  • The young man introduces himself as Willoughby, and says that he lives in the mansion the Dashwoods admired at Allenham. He tactfully departs after asking if he can stop by the next day to make sure Marianne's OK.
  • Everyone is immediately charmed by Willoughby. Marianne is particularly taken by both what she knows about him and what she imagines him to be like.
  • Sir John shows up, and the girls immediately ask him about their new friend. Sir John gives him the thumbs up – he can't say much about the Willoughby's character or talents, but he's got a really fantastic hunting dog, which puts him in Sir John's good book.
  • Apparently, Willoughby doesn't actually live at Allenham all year round, but is there visiting his aunt. He's due to inherit the house there, and also has his own estate in Somerset. Sir John tells the girls that Willoughby is quite a catch.
  • Marianne takes a bit of offense at the idea that she might be out to "catch" a man, but we can see that she totally is, even if she herself doesn't realize it.