Summary and Analysis
Willoughby called early next day, and he and Marianne had a long, lively conversation during which they discovered, to Marianne's rapture, that "their taste was strikingly alike." Marianne was soon captivated by Willoughby, who came to visit every day: "His society became gradually her most exquisite enjoyment. They read, they talked, they sang together." Mrs. Dashwood found Willoughby "faultless." Elinor saw little to disapprove of in him except "a propensity in which he strongly resembled and peculiarly delighted her sister, of saying too much what he thought on every occasion."
In the meantime, Elinor began to notice Colonel Brandon's partiality for Marianne and was sorry for the older man. Hearing hints from Sir John about the colonel's "past injuries and disappointments," she regarded him "with respect and compassion." She saw that shielded by a mask of reserve was a strength of character that didn't deserve the censure that Willoughby and Marianne insisted on giving him. Elinor rebuked them, declaring him to be "a sensible man, well-bred, well-informed, of gentle address . . . possessing an amiable heart." But they took her reproof lightly and continued to see the colonel as a subject for jesting.
In this chapter, Willoughby is presented with quiet humor as "exactly formed to engage Marianne's heart." However, despite his apparent attributes, we are held back from liking him too much by the subtle censure of the author. He says too much, gives his opinion of other people "hastily," and displays "a want of caution" which the eager Marianne enters into almost too willingly. Their criticism of Colonel Brandon is cruel, especially on Marianne's part since she has been given some indication of his favor towards her. It seems as if the couple is confusing what they believe to be their sincerity for what is actually flippancy. Elinor appears more and more to be the voice of the author. She is rarely satirized, in contrast to the constant parody of the others, and seems to possess a maturity which can serve as a guide for the behavior of all.