Summary and Analysis
Reflecting on Edward's behavior towards herself, Elinor decided that "his affection was all her own." She attributed his and Lucy's engagement to a youthful infatuation and felt that he would never be satisfied with a wife like her — "illiterate, artful, and selfish."
Grieving "for him more than for herself," Elinor concealed both the secret and her deep distress from her mother and Marianne.
Much though the conversation with Lucy had upset her, she was eager to "hear many particulars of their engagement repeated again." She wanted to judge the sincerity of Lucy's feelings for Edward. And above all, she wanted to convince Lucy that she wasn't hurt by Lucy's revelation. So, during a visit to Barton Hall, she offered to help Lucy finish a basket which she was making for Annamaria. She and Lucy discussed Edward's dependence on his mother, and Lucy asked Elinor to use her influence with John Dashwood to persuade him to give the Norland living to Edward. Elinor coolly pointed out that since Mrs. John Dashwood was Edward's sister, "that must be recommendation enough to her husband" But Lucy reminded her that "Mrs. John Dashwood would not much approve of Edward's going into orders." Conversation between the two became very stilted when Elinor refused to give her opinion of Lucy's situation, and finally, Lucy asked Elinor if she would be staying in London that winter. She was obviously pleased by Elinor's "Certainly not." The conversation ended, and Elinor decided "that Edward was not only without affection for the person who was to be his wife, but that he had not even the chance of being tolerably happy in marriage."
After that day, Elinor never mentioned the subject of Edward again. But Lucy "seldom missed an opportunity of introducing it, and was particularly careful to inform her confidante of her happiness whenever she received a letter from Edward."
Elinor, in this chapter, shows herself to be of flesh and blood. She is hurt by Lucy's revelation of the engagement and wishes to assure herself that Edward could not be in love with a woman such as Lucy seems to be. She also doesn't want Lucy to have any advantage over her by suspecting Elinor's anguish. So, Elinor too is capable of insincerity in order to discover all she wants to know.