Fanny had Mrs. Jennings and Lady Middleton to her home the next day along with the Dashwood sisters, and liked both of the new acquaintances. Lady Middleton liked Fanny, as well, and the two were attracted by “a kind of cold hearted selfishness on both sides.” Mrs. Jennings, on the other hand, did not like Fanny.
Lady Middleton and Fanny are both self-interested and want to gain aristocratic friends and acquaintances. So, they get along well with each other.
Lucy came to join the group, and talked with Elinor about how anxious she was to see Edward in town. Not wanting their relationship to become known, the two had not yet met up in London, though Edward had arrived with John and Fanny. Shortly after this, Elinor found Edward’s card left at Mrs. Jennings’ home twice. He had come to visit, and she was glad that she hadn’t been there to see him both times.
Lucy and Edward must take care to keep their engagement secret from their tight-knit community in London. Elinor, meanwhile, is doing her best to avoid running into Edward.
John and Fanny invited Elinor, Marianne, Mrs. Jennings, the Steeles, and the Middletons to dinner. Mrs. Ferrars was supposed to attend, and Elinor was eager 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 family.
This dinner offers Lucy and Elinor both a chance to meet Mrs. Ferrars, the mysterious mother of the man they have both loved. Lucy is excited for the opportunity to get closer to Edward’s family and earn their good will.
Before the dinner, Lucy told Elinor that Edward would not be able to attend, much to Elinor’s relief. At the dinner, Elinor and Lucy finally met Mrs. Ferrars, “a little, thin woman, upright, even to formality, in her figure, and serious, even to sourness, in her aspect.”
Mrs. Ferrars’ overly serious, sour appearance mimics her overly serious inner character.
Mrs. Ferrars appeared to dislike Elinor, but Elinor did not care much, since 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 her.
Now that she has no plans to marry Edward, Elinor doesn’t have to worry about scheming to earn Mrs. Ferrars’ affection. Lucy, however, does, and is happy to find that Mrs. Ferrars seems to like her.
After dinner, people talked about whether John’s son Harry or Lady Middleton’s son William was taller. Elinor and Marianne were rather bored by this, and Marianne offended everyone by saying that she had no opinion on the matter. John saw some painted screens that Elinor had done and showed them around.
As Elinor and Marianne are not particularly interested in advancing in society or gaining Mrs. Ferrars’ favor, they are bored by the vapid small-talk of the party.
Colonel Brandon admired the paintings. Mrs. Ferrars looked at them and upon hearing that Elinor had painted them, she dismissed them “without regarding them at all.” She instead began talking about Miss Morton’s painting. Marianne was irritated at this slight to her sister, and she spoke up, asking who cared about Miss Morton.
Mrs. Ferrars continues her dislike of Elinor, and Marianne stands up for her sister, unable to restrain her irritation for the sake of good manners.
Marianne’s outburst offended John, Fanny, and Mrs. Ferrars. Colonel Brandon, though, seemed to admire Marianne’s protective affection for her sister. Marianne couldn’t help but bursting out into tears and Colonel Brandon went to comfort her. John whispered to Brandon that Marianne’s nervous condition was a pity and that she used to be very pretty but now was not.
While most of the members of the dinner party are offended by Marianne’s inappropriate remark, Colonel Brandon admires Marianne’s care for her sister. Marianne is once again unable to contain her emotions. John pities her, but he only seems concerned about how Marianne’s condition will affect her marriage prospects.