Sense and Sensibility


Jane Austen

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Sense and Sensibility: Chapter 17 Summary & Analysis

Edward gradually grew warmer toward the Dashwoods, but Mrs. Dashwood still sensed some coldness on his part. She attributed this to something to do with Edward’s mother, and asked Edward what Mrs. Ferrars’ plans were for him. Edward said he had no grand career plans and no wish to be distinguished.
Mrs. Dashwood assumes that Edward’s bad mood is because of his mother, who wants him to attain some kind of wealth, excellence, or social prestige. Edward, however, has no interest in strategizing his way through high society.
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Marianne agreed with Edward’s (lack of) plans, saying that grandeur has nothing to do with happiness. But Elinor said that wealth had much to do with happiness. Marianne disagreed, saying that one only needed enough money to be comfortable, and Elinor laughed, because Marianne’s idea of a comfortable living was a very wealthy one.
Marianne’s idea of a moderate, comfortable living is warped. She lives a sheltered life in very wealthy society, with extremely high standards of living.
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All three Dashwood daughters agreed that they would love more wealth and imagined how they would use more money if they had it. Edward joked that Marianne would spend all her money on music and books, saying that he remembered her character well. Everyone talked about each other’s particular character, with Marianne calling Edward reserved and lacking in gaiety, while Elinor called Marianne steadfast.
Even though the Dashwoods are, in the grand scheme of things, a wealthy family, one never has enough money, and they all would desire more. Edward jokes about Marianne’s artistic sensibility, and everyone tries to pinpoint each other’s particular character.
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