Sense and Sensibility By Jane Austen Summary and Analysis Chapters 42-43

Summary

A few days after their arrival at Cleveland, Marianne took ill with a violent cold. As she did not improve, Mrs. Jennings sent for the apothecary, who pronounced her disorder to be of an infectious variety. Mrs. Palmer, fearing for her baby, departed with him to a relative's home in the neighborhood, but Mrs. Jennings insisted on staying to help nurse Marianne. After a few days, Marianne seemed to get better, but suddenly she had a relapse, and Elinor decided to send for their mother. Colonel Brandon offered to go for her "with a readiness that seemed to speak the occasion and the service pre-arranged in his mind."

Things seemed very bad and Mrs. Jennings was convinced Marianne would not survive. But as suddenly as she was stricken, Marianne began to get better and was declared out of danger. On that day, Elinor heard a carriage approaching and hurried down, thinking it must be Colonel Brandon and her mother. To her surprise, it was Willoughby.

Analysis

The gentry of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries were keenly interested in planning their gardens. Ruins of Grecian temples were often placed in the grounds to add a romantic touch to the landscape.

The apothecary was the man who prepared drugs, as opposed to the doctor who prescribed them. In the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, however, the apothecary had the skill and power to care for patients in the same way as the doctor. Note that Mrs. Palmer's baby was treated by a doctor in London but only an apothecary was available in the country.

Much to our surprise, Mr. Palmer, in his own habitat, is almost as warm as his wife. Mrs. Jennings has truly become one of the heroines of the story, where, as a mother, she is a striking contrast to the cold, barren Mrs. Ferrars.

Marianne is paying for her folly with a very tangible illness. She cannot go out in the damp, wild grass — symbolic of her own excesses of emotion — without being punished.

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