Summary and Analysis
Edward began to enjoy his stay but insisted he had to leave at the end of the week, although it was evident he had no special place to go. Mrs. Dashwood tried to cheer him by assuring him that, in time, his mother would make him independent. But Edward only replied, "I think that I may defy many months to produce any good to me."
After his departure, Elinor was bewildered and upset but "busily employed herself the whole day," for she didn't want to disturb her family or increase her own grief. Marianne could not understand her sister's calmness; she believed that if Elinor really cared for Edward, she could not be so controlled. Under her cool exterior, however, Elinor thought about Edward a lot.
One morning she was roused from her thoughts by Sir John's knock at the window. He brought his wife, Mrs. Jennings, and the latter's youngest daughter and husband. Mrs. Palmer, "several years younger than Lady Middleton and totally unlike her in every respect," chattered and laughed incessantly while her husband ignored her and read the newspaper. Sir John insisted that Elinor and Marianne spend the next day at Barton Park, and for fear of being rude they were forced to accept. After his departure, Marianne complained about having to see so much of the Middletons, but Elinor reminded her that a few weeks ago she felt differently: "The alteration is not in them, if their parties are grown tedious and dull. We must look for the change elsewhere."
In this chapter, there is considerable emphasis on the dullness and banality of social visits. Marianne resents being invited so often to Barton Park. "The rent of this cottage is said to be low," she says, "but we have it on very hard terms, if we are to dine at the Park whenever any one is staying either with them or with us."
The contrast between the two sisters can be markedly noticed in their respective reactions to two similar situations — the enigmatic departures of their suitors. While Marianne cares little for the feelings of her family and wishes only to indulge her own romantic sensibilities, Elinor, not wishing to cause pain to those around her, affects a calm demeanor. However, she is affected greatly by Edward's strange behavior, and one of the only consolations to his departure is the ring he wears, which she believes contains a lock of her hair.