Summary and Analysis
While visiting her daughter Charlotte, Mrs. Jennings learned from Doctor Donovan that he had just left Mrs. John Dashwood, who was suffering from hysterics. Anne Steele had innocently revealed the news of Lucy Steele's engagement to Edward, and Fanny, aghast, had ordered Lucy out of her house.
Elinor realized that she must tell Marianne about the whole affair before Marianne heard it from Mrs. Jennings. Her sister was heartbroken. "What!" she said. "While attending me in all my misery, has this been on your heart?" Elinor, taking advantage of her sister's recriminations, made Marianne promise to show discretion when hearing or talking about the affair. On the following day, the sisters again heard the story, this time from John Dashwood. He told them that Fanny had told her mother about the engagement, and Mrs. Ferrars had sent for Edward, who refused to break it. He left the house in spite of his mother's declaration that she would disinherit him. Mrs. Ferrars' latest plan was to give Edward's inheritance to his brother Robert, immediately.
Mrs. Jennings continues to reveal herself as the kindly and sensible creature she is. Her tactless curiosity and gossip began by offending Elinor and Marianne, but the sisters have by now learned that she has a big heart, which is what really matters. She energetically sides with Lucy against the wealth and family connections of the Dashwoods and the Ferrarses. "I declare I have no patience with your sister," she says, indignant because Fanny Dashwood has thrown Lucy out of her house, "and I hope, with all my heart, it will be a match in spite of her. . . . I have no notion of people's making such a to-do about money and greatness." Ironically, her simple heart can see no contrivance in the devious Lucy.