Sense and Sensibility: Episode 8, Chapters 37-41

In this episode, we read Chapters 37 to 41 of Sense and Sensibility (which was where Volume 3 started in the original publication). We talk about how the news of Edward and Lucy is spread, the picture we get of Lucy and Anne’s relationship, the resurgence of the ‘cautionary tale’, and how this is the second time Colonel Brandon asks Elinor to deliver a message for him.

We discuss the character of Edward, including our disagreement with Helena Kelly’s view in Jane Austen: the Secret Radical (and see also our extended argument against her claim that there is symbolic meaning behind Edward cutting up a scissors sheath). Ellen talks about the clergy in Jane Austen’s day, and Harriet reviews the popular culture versions, particularly looking at how the adaptations treat the scene between Edward and Elinor, and what the modernisations do with the Edward-Lucy-Elinor plot.

Things we mention:


Adaptations of the book:

Modernisations of the book:

Creative commons music used:

2 thoughts on “<em>Sense and Sensibility</em>: Episode 8, Chapters 37-41”

  1. I have to disagree with you that Edward should be censured for making Elinor believe he was leading her on. Not only is Edward innocent of this behavior, but Elinor should be just as much to blame for this misunderstanding. Most of Chapter 4 speaks of Elinor’s uncertainty of Edward’s feelings toward her. The attachment of Elinor and Edward is perpetuated by Mrs. Dashwood. Not only does she admit, ” I have never yet known what it was to separate esteem and love,” but , “No sooner did she perceive any symptom of love in his behavior to Elinor, than she considered their seriousness attachment as certain”(Chapter 3). Mrs. Dashwood is know to jump to conclusions. This is supported when Willoughby has not written to Marianne and, “Mrs. Dashwood could find explanation whenever she wanted” and “…common sense, common care, and common prudence were all sunk in Mrs. Dashwood’s romantic delicacy” (Chapter 16). It didn’t help that Mrs. Jennings and Sir John Middleton teased Elinor about Mr. F publicly.
    Let’s remember that Edward is a shy and awkward man. He is oblivious to his “…open, affectionate heart.” Edward is just being Edward around the Dashwoods. He is not aware that he can make someone fall in love with him. I don’t think it was his intention to flirt and seduce Elinor in the least. Throughout, Elinor is hopeful that Edward feels for her but it is her presumptions that propel her to believe that this must be so. From Edward staying longer at Norland than expected and Elinor hoping it was her hair in his ring, she made things worse for herself.
    Was Edward falling in love with Elinor? Probably. But he never lead her to believe it. If this was the case, he would have never wore the ring with Lucy’s hair while he visited the Dashwoods. He explains his behavior further in Chapter 49.

    • Just to clarify, I don’t think Edward should be censured much. But I do think a point must have come – probably when he was at Barton – that he realised how Elinor felt about him. Though I guess maybe that was why he didn’t stay more than a week. So maybe he doesn’t really deserve censure. But certainly, by the end of the book, when he comes to Barton to propose to Elinor, he must have had some confidence that his feelings were reciprocated. I agree that he is shy and awkward, but by that stage of the book he clearly feels that he has at least some chance with Elinor.


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