Mrs. Dashwood and her daughters stayed at Norland for several months while they tried to find a new home. Elinor prudently rejected some possible homes that Mrs. Dashwood liked, but that were too expensive for them. Mrs. Dashwood had learned of John’s promise to his father, and so was confident that he would help her and her daughters financially.
Mrs. Dashwood judges homes by how much she likes them, whereas Elinor has more sense and considers what they can actually afford.
The more Mrs. Dashwood learned of Fanny’s character, the more she disliked her. However, she didn’t mind living at Norland that much, because of a “growing attachment” between Elinor and Fanny’s brother, Edward Ferrars. The narrator notes that some mothers might have been worried about Edward’s fortune, which depended entirely on inheriting from the will of his mother, but Mrs. Dashwood’s only concern was that Elinor and Edward were fond of each other.
The more time Mrs. Dashwood spends with Fanny, the better she comes to understand (and despise) her precise character. Mrs. Dashwood is more concerned with the happiness of Elinor than her fortune, and so is enthusiastic about the possible match between her and Edward, whereas other mothers would have been more concerned about money issues.
Edward’s family wanted him to seek some kind of distinguished career, but he simply desired “domestic comfort” and quiet. Mrs. Dashwood didn’t take much notice of Edward when he first arrived at Norland, but then Elinor mentioned how different he was from Fanny. She told her mother she’d like or esteem Edward, but Mrs. Dashwood said she couldn’t like him but only love him.
Edward defies his family’s desires for more wealth and more social prestige. Instead, he simply wants quiet happiness. The more restrained Elinor expresses esteem for Edward, whereas Mrs. Dashwood can only operate in terms of extremes, and says that she loves him.
Mrs. Dashwood thought that Edward and Elinor would certainly be married before long. She told this to Marianne, who lamented that Edward lacked any taste in music, art, or books. She conceded, though, that Elinor didn’t have the same feelings as she did, and so perhaps Elinor could be happy with Edward. Marianne then despaired of ever finding a husband, but her mother assured her she would.
As soon as a character in the novel learns of a romantic attachment, his or her thoughts turn immediately to the prospects of marriage. Marianne places great importance on matters of taste and sensibility in men, whereas Elinor can admire Edward’s more restrained character.