Sense and Sensibility

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Sense and Sensibility Chapter 16 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Marianne stayed up all night, troubled over Willoughby’s sudden departure. The next day, she was still clearly upset and would talk to no one, indulging in her extreme feelings of sadness. Within a few days, Marianne’s attitude “sunk. . . into a calmer melancholy.”
Just as her mother did when Henry died, Marianne indulges in her grief and sadness. When she feels an emotion, she goes to the extreme of that emotion, whether it be joy or melancholy.
Themes
Character, Sense, and Sensibility Theme Icon
Elinor was uneasy, as no letters came from Willoughby. She asked her mother to ask Marianne whether or not she was engaged to Willoughby, so that they could know for sure. But Mrs. Dashwood felt that this would be insensitive, and refused. Elinor argued, but her “common sense, common care, common prudence” were all for naught against her mother’s “romantic delicacy.”
Elinor sensibly wants to know for sure whether Willoughby and Marianne are engaged. Mrs. Dashwood, though, prioritizes being sensitive to Marianne’s emotions. Her “romantic delicacy,” for once trumps Elinor’s good sense.
Themes
Character, Sense, and Sensibility Theme Icon
One day, Elinor and Marianne went out for a walk. They saw a man approaching on a horse and Marianne excitedly exclaimed that it had to be Willoughby. But, when the man came closer, they saw that he was actually Edward Ferrars. He, Elinor, and Marianne walked back to the cottage, where Edward was welcomed gladly.
The surprise arrival of Edward promises to possibly change the Dashwoods’ romantic plans and strategy, as the relationship between Edward and Elinor may yet have some hope.
Themes
Love and Marriage Theme Icon
Society and Strategy Theme Icon
To the surprise of Marianne, Edward did not seem particularly excited or joyous to see everyone. She was further perturbed when she learned that he had been in the area for two weeks without coming to see Elinor. Marianne asked how Norland was, and sentimentally described the house and its land.
The romantic Marianne cannot understand why Edward is not showing more emotion. Her romanticism is displayed by her sentimental description of Norland and its surrounding land.
Themes
Character, Sense, and Sensibility Theme Icon
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Edward asked how the Dashwoods were enjoying Barton, and Marianne said that the Middletons were unpleasant. Elinor chastised her for her impoliteness, and said that the Middletons had been very nice to them. Elinor continued to talk with Edward, somewhat annoyed by his cold demeanor, but restraining herself from displaying any “resentment or displeasure.”
Elinor is more mindful of polite manners than Marianne. Even the restrained Elinor is somewhat troubled by Edward’s lack of happiness upon seeing her again. This does not bode well for their potential romantic relationship.
Themes
Love and Marriage Theme Icon
Character, Sense, and Sensibility Theme Icon