Sense and Sensibility Volume I Chapters 17 - 22 Summary

Edward Ferrars has come to visit the family, especially Elinor with who he has established a special relationship. Mrs. Dashwood is happy to see him and she asks him what his future holds for him. He wants to live a happy life of moderation, because greatness would cause him stress and not contentment.

This leads to a discussion of the need of wealth versus the need to be content. Marianne wishes to have enough money to live a comfortable life, whereas Elinor wishes to have wealth. The two sisters realize their definitions of wealth differ; Elinor sees having an income of one thousand pounds a year as wealth and Marianne sees two thousand pounds the necessary amount for contentment.

The conversation turns to character and the fact that Edward is a shy and reserved. He knew he was shy, but was surprised to find he is regarded as reserved.

The next day, after walking into the village, Edward remarks on how much he enjoyed the walk and the views he saw. Marianne leaps at the chance to discuss what he saw on his walk, but Edward tells her he is not a person to discuss such things, because he is not as educated in such things as she is.

At tea Marianne notices Edward wears a ring with a lock of hair in it. After she asks him about the ring, Edward becomes embarrassed and explains the hair is his sister's. Elinor suspects the lock of hair is actually hers and is bent on discovering if she is right.

Later, Sir John and Mrs. Jennings come to visit and invite the family and Edward to their home for tea and dinner the next day. Willoughby is mentioned in the course of conversation, which means he must be explained to Edward, who guesses he is of some importance to Marianne.

Edward leaves the cottage a week after he first appeared. He still is in a sad state and has no plans to find a profession for himself. Elinor is left confused by his actions and does not know whether they are a couple.

A little while after Edward has left, Elinor is visited by Sir John, Lady Middleton, Mrs. Jennings, and Mr. and Mrs. Palmer. Mrs. Palmer is Mrs. Jennings' daughter and Lady Middleton's sister; her husband seems to be a man who does not wish to talk to anyone. He upon entering the cottage picks up the newspaper and spends his time reading. While his wife is very much like her father, in that she is very talkative and bursting with energy. The group invites the Dashwood ladies to dinner, but only the girls accept the invitation. They do this begrudgingly, because they do not wish to eat with a group of people who obviously are not a lively bunch.

Elinor and Marianne the next evening eat dinner with the Sir John, his wife, and their guests. Mrs. Palmer is especially glad to see the girls and invite them to spend Christmas with them at their home, Cleveland. The two girls decline the request numerous times, but Mrs. Palmer seems undeterred, finally, by changing the subject they manage to avoid the topic.

Mrs. Palmer does let the girls know Willoughby lives about thirty miles from her home. Elinor takes the opportunity to find out more about Willoughby, but Mrs. Palmer only knows he is a fine young man. She has never spoken to him or even seen him very much. She also speaks of Colonel Brandon, who she saw while in London. She tells Elinor he is fine and he has wonderful things to say about her. She also says he told her about Marianne's engagement, which truth be told, he only looked as if he knew about the engagement. Mrs. Palmer is a person who takes a little knowledge and spins it into a story of fact, according to her.

Not long after the Palmers returned to Cleveland, did the Steele sisters come to visit Barton Park. They are some relation of Mrs. Jennings, and Lady Middleton is not happy to have more visitors thrust upon her. She changes her mind though after meeting Lucy and Anne, because they are so taken with her children.

Sir John insists the Dashwoods spend time with the sisters, so Elinor and Marianne are forced to spend a considerable amount of time with them. Elinor does not like Anne, because she is too inquisitive about their personal lives and she speaks her mind too freely.

Anne claims to know Edward, but her sister pulls her back by saying they only met him twice at their uncle's house. This leaves Elinor with a thousand questions about this uncle and their relationship with Edward, but she is not able to find any answers.

Lucy Steele confides in Elinor that she and Edward Ferrars are engaged and have been for four years. Elinor is staggered by the news, she had no idea Edward was in love with someone else. Lucy does not know of the relationship between Edward and Elinor, so she asks Elinor's advice on how to handle Edward's mother and whether or not she should stay in the relationship. The two only see each other twice a year, but they do write to each other. Then Lucy reveals Edward was with her before he visited Elinor and it is her hair in the ring he wears. Elinor is shocked with all this news and feels as if her life has been turned upside down.

Edward's visit is unusual because he is depressed, leaving a week later still in a sad state. After meeting the Steele sisters Elinor is shocked to learn Edward is engaged to Lucy Steele. These chapters contain changes for Elinor which cause her pain and sorrow.

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