Summary and Analysis Chapter 38



Marianne continued to grieve over her dear sister's pain and over her own lack of control in the face of Elinor's fortitude. For several days, nothing more was heard about Edward and Lucy. The third day was "so fine, so beautiful a Sunday as to draw many to Kensington Gardens." There Elinor met Anne Steele, who by eavesdropping on their conversation was able to tell her that Edward finally came to see Lucy and offered to release her from their engagement: "But, to be sure, Lucy would not give ear to such kind of talking." Edward had decided to enter the Church and could not marry until he found a living. Elinor related this to Mrs. Jennings, who said, "Wait for a living! Aye, we all know how that will end; they will wait for a twelvemonth, and finding no good comes of it, will set down upon a curacy of fifty pounds a year." Later, Elinor received a letter from Lucy confirming this information and hinting that she would appreciate any assistance people would give her.


This chapter affords an excellent example of the author's skill in depicting character and personality through dialogue. All of Anne Steele's vulgarity, lack of education, and weakness of character are revealed in her lengthy monologue. She is coy about "the doctor's" preference for her, which seems to exist wholly in her mind. She is completely mercenary in her constant talk of money and Edward's lack of it. She is wholly without reticence, even explaining how she listened at the door when Edward and Lucy were talking together in the drawing room.

In complete contrast, Elinor, in her brief and discreet replies, shows her good breeding. She is naturally curious to know what has gone on between Edward and Lucy, but she does not ply Anne with questions, and she is genuinely horrified at hearing of Anne's eavesdropping: "I certainly would not have suffered you to give me particulars of a conversation which you ought not to have known yourself."

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