Sense and Sensibility – Complete Summary

Slived at Norland Park in Sussex, England, a property owned by his wealthy uncle. Henry had three daughters by his current wife and one son from a prior marriage. When his uncle died, Norland was left to Henry’s son and John’s own son. This left Henry’s three daughters without much of a fortune, and when he died, he asked John to look after his half-sisters. John, in response, plans to give his sisters 3000 pounds each, but his wife quickly persuades him not to do this, so that their own son will have that money. Henry’s widow, , and her three daughters (the rational and self-controlled , the sensitive , and the young ) stay at Norland for several months after Henry’s death. Mrs. Dashwood despises Fanny, but Elinor becomes close with Fanny’s brother, . Mrs. Dashwood and Marianne think he and Elinor will marry. A relative of Mrs. Dashwood, , writes to her and offers her a place to live on his property, Barton Park. Mrs. Dashwood accepts the offer, and moves to a cottage on Sir John’s property with her daughters. The Dashwoods meet Sir John and his wife, , often attending dinners and balls at their home. They also meet Lady Middleton’s mother, a kind but gossipy old woman named , who enjoys predicting and encouraging budding romances. Another frequent guest at the Middletons’ home is , a friend of Sir John and a 35 year-old bachelor. It quickly becomes apparent that Brandon loves Marianne, but Marianne thinks the idea of marrying a man so old and as lacking in taste as she thinks Brandon to be is ridiculous.

One day, The Dashwood sisters go out for a walk in the country. When it begins to rain suddenly, they run back toward their cottage, but Marianne trips and falls. A gentleman who happens to be passing by picked her up and gallantly carries her home. He introduces himself as . Soon after, the Dashwoods see Willoughby again at dinner at Barton Park. Sir John tells Marianne that Willoughby is “very well worth catching,” and she begins to grow fond of him. Willoughby often visits the Dashwood cottage and spends much time with Marianne. They share many of the same opinions and tastes in art, music, and literature. Mrs. Dashwood guesses that they might become engaged. Marianne and Willoughby grow closer and closer, as the Dashwoods continue to attend numerous social events at Barton Park. Margaret sees Marianne give Willoughby a lock of her hair, and assumes that they are engaged. One evening at Barton Park, Mrs. Jennings asks Elinor if she had any man whom she was fond of, and Margaret lets slip that Elinor is taken by someone whose name began with an F. The next day, a large group assembles at Barton Park to make an expedition to Colonel Brandon’s brother-in-law’s property. However, Brandon receives a letter and suddenly has to leave for London, cancelling the planned trip. Everyone decides to pass the day by driving around the country, and Willoughby and Marianne go off in one carriage to his aunt’s property, Allenham, which he is likely to inherit, and they survey it together. Willoughby acts in love with Marianne for several days.

The Dashwoods return from Barton Park to find Willoughby’s carriage outside their cottage. Marianne is crying and upset when they enter. Willoughby must leave for London on business indefinitely. Willoughby’s engagement to Marianne is unknown, so Elinor is suspicious of him. Marianne is devastated by Willoughby’s departure. She walks with Elinor one day. Marianne thinks she sees Willoughby approaching. Then they realise it’s Edward Ferrars. Edward seems uneasy and unhappy to see Elinor, not overjoyed. Marianne notices a hair-in-ring on his hand. Edward says it’s Fanny’s hair, but Elinor and Marianne disagree. Elinor thinks he got it from her. Edward leaves without proposing after a week. Soon after, the Middletons host Charlotte Palmer, Lady Middleton’s sister, and her husband at Barton Park. Elinor isn’t sure if Marianne and Willoughby are engaged, but the Palmers think so. After the Palmers leave, the Middletons have more guests: and. Elinor and Marianne don’t like the Steele sisters, who only talk about boys. Sir John mentions that Elinor loves Edward Ferrars, and Anne says they know him well, but Lucy corrects her. Lucy asks Elinor if she knows Edward’s mother while they’re walking. She’s been secretly engaged to Edward for four years. Because Lucy has no fortune, they feared Edward’s mother would disapprove. Lucy shows Elinor a letter from Edward and says she gave him.

Elinor is surprised but believes Lucy’s story. She wonders if Edward deceived her by wooing her. After a Barton Park party, Elinor asks Lucy about her engagement. Lucy and Edward are in love but won’t marry until Mrs. Ferrars dies. Mrs. Jennings invites Elinor and Marianne to London in January. Elinor doesn’t want to go because Edward will be in London in February, but Marianne wants to see Willoughby. Margaret and her mother stay at Barton while the sisters go to London. Marianne writes to Willoughby when they reach London, but he doesn’t reply. Colonel Brandon visits the Dashwood sisters. Marianne is worried about Willoughby and can’t enjoy city events. Elinor asks her mother to ask Marianne if she’s engaged to Willoughby. Elinor and Marianne see Willoughby at Lady Middleton’s party. Willoughby ignores Marianne. Marianne leaves in despair. The next morning, Marianne “almost chokes with grief” after reading Willoughby’s letter. Willoughby disavows any romantic feelings and tells her he’s engaged. Elinor and Marianne are both shocked by Willoughby’s behaviour, and Elinor comforts her. Marianne responds that she can’t act happy when she’s miserable.

Willoughby’s engagement spreads. Willoughby only implied his love for Marianne, Elinor learns. Mrs. Jennings predicts Marianne will marry Colonel Brandon. Colonel Brandon visits Elinor after hearing Willoughby’s bad news and shares some information with Marianne. To explain, he tells Marianne about a woman named. Eliza loved Brandon but was forced to marry his brother. Brandon and Eliza were caught eloping. During Brandon’s military service, Eliza was seduced by multiple men and divorced Brandon’s brother. Colonel Brandon found her confined to a house due to debt and dying of consumption. He promised to care for her illegitimate daughter,. Colonel Brandon’s daughter disappeared after a trip to Bath last year. Brandon received a letter at Barton Park informing him that Willoughby had seduced, impregnated, and abandoned Eliza. Brandon left Barton suddenly for this reason. Brandon’s honesty shocks Elinor, but she appreciates it. Marianne isn’t comforted by the news. She mourns “the loss of Willoughby’s character” Elinor and Colonel Brandon talk often, and she starts to like him. Mrs. Jennings predicts Colonel Brandon will marry Elinor.

Elinor finally convinces Marianne to leave the house, and they go with Mrs. Jennings to a jeweller. Elinor runs into her brother John at the store. The next day, he meets Mrs. Jennings, Colonel Brandon, and the Middletons. He congratulates Elinor and tells her Brandon is interested. Also, Mrs. Ferrars has arranged for Edward to marry. John and Fanny invite the Middletons, Steeles, and Mrs. Jennings to a dinner with Mrs. Ferrars and the Dashwood sisters. Lucy is eager to meet her future mother-in-law, as is Elinor. Mrs. Ferrars is rude to Elinor, whom she dislikes, but seems very fond of Lucy. Marianne and Elinor join Fanny and John at a party. Elinor sees the jeweller and learns he’s Edward’s brother.

Mrs. Jennings tells Elinor two weeks later about Lucy and Edward’s engagement. Fanny became hysterical and kicked Lucy out of her home, where the Steele sisters were staying. The next day, John reveals that when Mrs. Ferrars discovered Edward’s secret engagement, she disinherited and disowned him. Edward wouldn’t end the engagement. Elinor later meets Lucy’s sister Anne in Kensington Gardens. Anne says Edward offered Lucy the chance to leave him because he’s poor, but she refused, so they’re engaged. The next morning, Elinor receives a letter from Lucy saying she and Edward are happy despite everything, that he will become a priest, and that they will marry once they have a home.

Marianne and Elinor plan to return to Barton Cottage after two months in London, but first visit the Palmers in Cleveland. Mrs. Jennings overhears Colonel Brandon’s visit and thinks he’s proposing to Elinor. In reality, he’s promising Edward a job at Delaford. Elinor is upset because Edward and Lucy could marry (which she hid from Brandon). Edward arrives after Brandon leaves, and Elinor tells him the news. He thanks Brandon. Mrs. Jennings realises Brandon never proposed to Elinor. Elinor meets John and Fanny before leaving London and learns Robert Ferrars will marry Miss Morton instead of Edward. Robert got Edward’s inheritance.

Marianne gets sick at the Palmers’ Cleveland home. Elinor sends Colonel Brandon to Barton to get Mrs. Dashwood because Mrs. Jennings thinks she’ll die. Marianne heals. Elinor hears a carriage while sitting by her sleeping sister. Willoughby, not Barton, wins. Elinor asks him to leave, but he refuses. He begs to explain himself. He says he didn’t plan to marry Marianne when he first met the Dashwoods. He didn’t “care about her happiness” or “return her affection.” He fell for her. Aunt Mrs. Smith disinherited him after discovering his affair with Eliza. Willoughby needed money and couldn’t marry Marianne. Despite not loving her, he married Miss Grey for her money. Miss Grey became suspicious when he received letters from Marianne in London. She dictated a letter to Willoughby. Miss Grey wrote Willoughby’s hurtful letter to Marianne. Willoughby apologises for being a fool and scoundrel. Elinor forgives and pities Willoughby. Mrs. Dashwood and Colonel Brandon then arrive.

Mrs. Dashwood tells Elinor that Brandon told her on the trip to Cleveland that he loves Marianne and she approves of their marriage. The Dashwoods return to Barton Cottage after Marianne’s recovery. Marianne tells Elinor that her illness has made her reflect on her life. She regrets her improper behaviour with Willoughby and her rude contempt for Mrs. Jennings, Fanny, John, the Steeles, and the Middletons. She vows to focus on her family and control her emotions. She’s over Willoughby but wishes he hadn’t always lied to her. Elinor reveals what Willoughby said. Marianne calmly tells Elinor to tell their mother. Elinor learns from a servant that Lucy has married “Mr. Ferrars.” Elinor and Marianne are devastated.

Elinor anticipates Colonel Brandon’s visit. Edward arrives when she’s expecting him. He says his brother Robert married Lucy. Elinor weeps. Edward was too young and idle when he foolishly engaged Lucy. She left him for his wealthier brother because they didn’t love each other. Elinor accepts his proposal, much to her sisters’ and mother’s delight.

Mrs. Ferrars forgives Edward and reluctantly approves of his marriage to Elinor. Elinor, Edward, and Elinor’s sisters and mother visit Delaford. Elinor, Edward, and Mrs. Dashwood want Marianne to marry Colonel Brandon, and she does. She changes her mind about love and loves Brandon. Mrs. Dashwood and her daughters have “strong family affection” after marriage. Elinor and Marianne are both married and close.



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