Remember how Marianne and Mrs. Dashwood convinced themselves that Elinor must be in love with Edward and basically started planning their wedding? Just because Elinor and Edward were spending a lot of time chatting? Well, Marianne, it's time to get a taste of your own medicine. Only it's not just your mom and your sister assuming you must be secretly engaged to Willoughby, it's evvvvvvvverybody. Because when you behave toward a young man the way that young ladies ONLY behave toward a young man they're engaged to, then obviously, you must be engaged to him! This is not an entirely unexpected sort of conclusion.
Willoughby and Marianne have quite the Mutual Admiration Society going on, don't they? Marianne decides that "[e]very thing he did, was right. Every thing he said, was clever" (p. 100). They dance only with each other as much as is remotely allowable. (According to my copy's notes, there were strict rules about how often you could dance with the same partner, and dancing more than two dances in a row with the same person was basically not permitted, so they're basically just dancing twice with each other, then sitting out for the next couple dances instead of dancing with other people, and then dancing together twice again.) They talk only to each other whenever they're together. I'm pretty sure that Austen is making a point here about how inadvisable it is to ignore the rest of your family and friends while pursuing a romantic partner. At the least, it's rude. It will probably expose you to gossip. And it might even cause estrangement from those who love you already.
Meanwhile, poor Elinor is stuck talking to the irksome Mrs. Jennings and the boring Lady Middleton. Even though Willoughby tends to be really kind toward Elinor, he does monopolize Marianne whenever possible, which means Elinor is kind of left in the dust. Unless Colonel Brandon is around! Then she has someone intelligent and filled with sense to talk to, at least. I like how well they understand each other. And I LOVE this description of him: "Colonel Brandon, who was on every occasion mindful of the feelings of others" (p. 116). What. A. Prince. (And how different from his friend, Sir John Middleton.)
Possible Discussion Questions:
1. How do you think Marianne has reconciled her conviction that people can never fall in love a second time with the fact that her own mother was her father's second wife?
2. If someone offered to give you a horse, would you take it?
3. What's your opinion of Margaret right now, having told Mrs. Jennings that Elinor has a beau whose name begins with 'F' and then come to tell Elinor that Willoughby has cut off a lock of Marianne's hair?