A person of exaggerated sensibility, Mrs. Dashwood is likeable, with perfect manners and "a sweetness of address" which attracts everyone. She is devoted to her daughters and very proud of them. She sympathizes with Marianne, who is so like herself in temperament. She cannot understand Elinor's calmer temperament; when Elinor, speaking of Edward, says, "I think you will like him," Mrs. Dashwood replies, "Like him! . . . I can feel no sentiment of approbation inferior to love."
She is captivated by Willoughby and is certain that he means to marry Marianne. Completely honest herself, she is deeply distressed by his subsequent behavior.
When Marianne is ill, she is so desperately anxious that she cannot but believe that her daughter is already dead. But, as Marianne recovers, she becomes her usual happy self. She again starts to match-make, "led away by the exuberance of her joy to think only of what would increase it."
After her daughters are married, Mrs. Dashwood is prudent enough to remain in her modest cottage, happy that her youngest daughter, Margaret, has "reached an age highly suitable for dancing, and not very ineligible for being supposed to have a lover."