Sense and Sensibility

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Lucy Steele Character Analysis

Lucy is a clever, socially scheming, self-interested young woman. For much of the novel she is secretly engaged to Edward Ferrars and tells Elinor that she is truly in love with him. However, after he loses his inheritance and his brother Robert gains it, she is not exactly slow to ingratiate herself with Robert, whom she ends up marrying. In the end, Lucy gets what she wants—a wealthy husband who allows her to move up the social ladder through marriage. As the narrator says of her at the conclusion of the novel, she is a prime example of what someone can achieve when he or she is persistent, self-interested, and determined.

Lucy Steele Quotes in Sense and Sensibility

The Sense and Sensibility quotes below are all either spoken by Lucy Steele or refer to Lucy Steele. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Love and Marriage Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin Classics edition of Sense and Sensibility published in 2003.
Chapter 23 Quotes

Her resentment of such behaviour, her indignation at having been its dupe, for a short time made her feel only for herself; but other ideas, other considerations, soon arose. Had Edward been intentionally deceiving her? Had he feigned a regard for her which he did not feel? Was his engagement to Lucy an engagement of the heart? No; whatever it might once have been, she could not believe it such at present. His affection was all her own. She could not be deceived in that. Her mother, sisters, Fanny, all had been conscious of his regard for her at Norland; it was not an illusion of her own vanity. He certainly loved her. What a softener of the heart was this persuasion! How much could it not tempt her to forgive!

Related Characters: Elinor Dashwood, Edward Ferrars, Lucy Steele
Page Number: 133
Explanation and Analysis:

Elinor has learned from Lucy Steele that she and Edward Ferrars are engaged. Understandably unwilling to share the details of her own past with Edward, and committed to remaining calm and friendly to this woman rather than break with decorum and expose her true feelings, Elinor is nonetheless shocked by the news. In great inner turmoil, she returns to the conclusions that she had carefully, cautiously drawn based on what she had experienced with Edward.

At first, Elinor questions these conclusions: but her rational side soon returns, as she recognizes that his character is the same as it always was, and he could not have simply changed his personality so suddenly and briefly. As she returns to the confidence of Edward's love for her, her confusion and shock are somewhat assuaged. She still cannot understand how or why Edward is engaged, but she is confident that he does not love Lucy, and this knowledge - even though, in this world, it may well mean that he could marry Lucy anyway - helps to stabilize her feelings at a difficult moment.

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Chapter 49 Quotes

That Lucy had certainly meant to deceive, to go off with a flourish of malice against him in her message by Thomas, was perfectly clear to Elinor; and Edward himself, now thoroughly enlightened on her character, had no scruple in believing her capable of the utmost meanness of wanton ill-nature.

Related Characters: Elinor Dashwood, Edward Ferrars, Lucy Steele
Page Number: 341
Explanation and Analysis:

As Edward tells Elinor of his childhood infatuation with Lucy, a relationship that went on far longer than it should, she begins to understand better why Edward acted the way he did. As Edward grows in Elinor's esteem, Lucy falls correspondingly. Elinor had always been careful to remain kind and friendly to Lucy, even though she never lost her feelings for Lucy's fiancé, but now she recognizes that Lucy was constantly scheming and was far more conniving than she believed. In some ways, Lucy's behavior makes sense for a woman in a vulnerable social situation, determined to climb her way up in the world. But the novel is unequivocal about condemning the sneaky, deceptive way in which Lucy, for instance, does so. With Lucy's character now firmly in the open, Elinor can take solace in the fact that she need not feel sorry that she can now be with Edward.

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Lucy Steele Character Timeline in Sense and Sensibility

The timeline below shows where the character Lucy Steele appears in Sense and Sensibility. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 21
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...Sir John and Mrs. Jennings had more guests to introduce to the Dashwood: Anne and Lucy Steele, two young women, both relatives of Mrs. Jennings. They were fashionable, well-mannered, and fond... (full context)
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...found “nothing to admire” in the older Steele sister, Anne, but thought the younger one, Lucy, to be beautiful. Elinor thought that their good manners showed they had some good sense,... (full context)
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While embracing one of the children, Lucy accidentally scratched her just slightly with her hairpin and the child cried hysterically. Anne said,... (full context)
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...told them that it was Edward Ferrars. Anne Steele said that they knew Edward, but Lucy corrected her and said they didn’t know him well. Elinor was curious but could find... (full context)
Chapter 22
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...disliked the Steeles for their impertinence and vulgarity. Elinor, meanwhile, found the younger Steele sister, Lucy, occasionally agreeable as a companion. One day, while Elinor and Lucy were walking together to... (full context)
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Elinor answered that she did not know Mrs. Ferrars. Lucy apologized for the “impertinently curious” question, saying that she was in an uncomfortable situation she... (full context)
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Elinor was shocked, but tried not to show her amazement. Lucy said that it was a secret engagement, that only she, Edward, and Anne knew about.... (full context)
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Lucy asked Elinor to keep the secret of the engagement. Because Lucy did not have a... (full context)
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Lucy showed Elinor a letter from Edward and Elinor recognized Edward’s handwriting. Lucy mentioned that she... (full context)
Chapter 23
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Unable to doubt the truth of Lucy’s story, Elinor wondered whether Edward had been intentionally leading her on and deceiving her. She... (full context)
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Elinor wanted to speak to Lucy again soon, to determine if she really loved Edward. But the next few times she... (full context)
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Elinor and her sisters went to Barton Park, and after dinner Elinor offered to help Lucy with weaving something for one of Lady Middleton’s children. Meanwhile, Marianne played piano, and this... (full context)
Chapter 24
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Elinor broached the subject of Edward with Lucy, who worried she had offended Elinor. Elinor said she hadn’t, even though Lucy said that... (full context)
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Elinor said that Lucy was fortunate that Edward still loved her after four years, since the “reciprocal attachment” would... (full context)
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Lucy told Elinor that Edward desired to become a priest and she asked Elinor to ask... (full context)
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Lucy asked Elinor for advice, but Elinor declined, saying that Lucy had to make her own... (full context)
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From that time on, Elinor never spoke about Edward again with Lucy, although Lucy took every opportunity to tell Elinor happily whenever she got a letter from... (full context)
Chapter 32
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Lucy and Anne came to talk with Elinor and Mrs. Jennings, speaking of their beaux and... (full context)
Chapter 34
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Lucy came to join the group, and talked with Elinor about how anxious she was to... (full context)
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...to see what she was like, though she was worried Edward might be there, too. Lucy was extremely excited for the dinner and for the opportunity to get to know Edward’s... (full context)
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Before the dinner, Lucy told Elinor that Edward would not be able to attend, much to Elinor’s relief. At... (full context)
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...she knew Mrs. Ferrars wouldn’t be her mother-in-law. She appeared to be very fond of Lucy, unaware that Edward and she were engaged. Lucy was very happy that Mrs. Ferrars liked... (full context)
Chapter 35
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...Edward, because it meant she wouldn’t have to worry about his mother. The next time Lucy saw Elinor at Mrs. Jennings’ apartment, she gushed about how happy she was that Mrs.... (full context)
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Lucy thanked Elinor for her friendship. Elinor didn’t say much in response. Now that Lucy had... (full context)
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It was extremely awkward for the three of them to be alone together. Lucy said practically nothing, and Elinor was forced to try to make polite conversation. After talking... (full context)
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Edward left, and Lucy shortly after him. Marianne said to Elinor that it was odd Lucy stayed when it... (full context)
Chapter 36
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...of being able to persuade her husband so easily, and wrote immediately to the Steeles. Lucy showed the invitation to Elinor excitedly, seeing it as further proof of how Edward’s family... (full context)
Chapter 37
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Mrs. Jennings asked what he meant, and he explained that Edward’s engagement to Lucy had been found out. Upon hearing of the engagement, Fanny “fell into violent hysterics.” She... (full context)
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...she was no longer sad over Edward and had come to peace with his marrying Lucy. Marianne was amazed at the ease with which Elinor seemed to have gotten over Edward,... (full context)
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...made Marianne promise to be discreet and not give “the least appearance of bitterness” to Lucy or anyone else over the situation. The next morning, John came to visit, and described... (full context)
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Mrs. Jennings was glad of this, as Lucy was her cousin, and said that she would make a good wife. John told her... (full context)
Chapter 38
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Anne asked if Mrs. Jennings was angry with Lucy, and Elinor told her she wasn’t. Anne said that false rumors were spreading that Edward... (full context)
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Edward had come to Lucy, and Anne overheard him telling Lucy that they should abandon the engagement for her sake,... (full context)
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...told her that Edward planned to become a priest and was keeping his engagement with Lucy. (full context)
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The next morning, Elinor received a letter from Lucy, saying that she and Edward were happy together even after the troubles they had gone... (full context)
Chapter 39
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...living on his estate in Delaford. Elinor was astonished, as this meant that Edward and Lucy would finally be able to marry. (full context)
Chapter 40
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...he left, Elinor thought that the next time she saw him he would probably be Lucy’s husband. (full context)
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...Jennings said that the living at Delaford would be more than enough for Edward and Lucy to live comfortably. She was confident they would be married soon. (full context)
Chapter 41
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Lucy and Edward were both equally happy and grateful to Elinor and Colonel Brandon. After this... (full context)
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...recent news and said that he thought she and Edward would reconcile when he married Lucy. He said that Mrs. Ferrars was “one of the most affectionate mothers in the world,”... (full context)
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...between Edward and Elinor, it would have been preferable to her to the engagement with Lucy. (full context)
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...her contempt for Robert in her expression. Robert said that he pitied Edward, and called Lucy “the merest awkward country girl, without style, or elegance, and almost without beauty.” Robert and... (full context)
Chapter 47
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The servant explained that he had seen “Mr. Ferrars” with Lucy, newly married. He had spoken with Lucy, who confirmed the union. He said Lucy seemed... (full context)
Chapter 48
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...Edward’s wedding upset her, that she had always held an unlikely hope that Edward and Lucy’s marriage would be prevented and he would still marry Elinor. Now, she imagined Lucy had... (full context)
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Edward explained that Lucy had married his brother Robert. On hearing this news, Elinor had to leave the room... (full context)
Chapter 49
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...hours after his arrival, the engagement was already arranged. He had long been miserable with Lucy, and now was happy to be with Elinor. (full context)
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Edward explained to Elinor that he had foolishly fallen in love with Lucy when he was very young, and that the attachment was the result of his idleness... (full context)
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...for a week, enjoying spending time with Elinor. Elinor was puzzled by the marriage between Lucy and Robert, and Edward guessed that they had been drawn together by their vanity and... (full context)
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Edward showed Elinor a letter he had received from Lucy while he was in Oxford. In the letter, Lucy said she was sure she had... (full context)
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Elinor now realized that Lucy had meant to deceive her when she spoke to the servant who gave her the... (full context)
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...company of the Dashwoods, and especially Marianne. He heard and wondered at the news of Lucy and Robert, and Edward and Elinor. Edward and Brandon “advanced in the good opinion of... (full context)
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Elinor received a letter from Mrs. Jennings about Lucy, which communicated “her honest indignation against the jilting girl,” and her pity for Edward. John... (full context)
Chapter 50
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...though her “real favour and preference” were for Robert, whom she quickly forgave for marrying Lucy. The narrator says that Lucy’s behavior is “a most encouraging instance of what an earnest,... (full context)
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Robert had visited Lucy only to persuade her to give up her engagement to Edward, but as he met... (full context)