I love this line about Elinor's thinking process: "Reflection had given a calmness to her judgment, and sobered her opinion of Willoughby's deserts" (p. 650). Not only is it important not to make snap judgments, but it's also important to realize that our emotions can be swayed by a forceful personality, and those emotions can affect our reason. When Willoughby is present and pleading his case, even Elinor can't quite resist his charm. But when he's gone, she takes the time to think over what she now knows about him, and his claims, and can see them much more clearly. Something for us all to remember and try to follow!
I'm really happy for Marianne, that she realizes that even if she had married Willoughby, she would not have been happy with him forever. She would eventually, inevitably have learned about his seduction and abandonment of Eliza, and she would have lost all respect and even love for him. I think this must be of a great comfort for her, realizing she hasn't missed out on lasting happiness and love.
In fact, she realizes that her own happiness "never was his object" (p. 654). He was thoroughly selfish in his love, only caring about how it made him feel, not about how it would affect her. Another important lesson for us, to be careful not to give our love to those who care only about their own happiness and well-being, not our own. In fact, I personally feel like that's one way you can tell if a relationship could last -- do both people in it put the other person's welfare and interests above their own? (And if they both put God first, the other person second, and themselves last, then I think you've got an unbeatable romance there.)
And then, their servant drops the big bomb. Miss Lucy Steele is now Mrs. Lucy Ferrars. Dun-dun-dun. (At least we didn't end with THAT chapter!) Happily, neither the Dashwoods nor ourselves are left in the misunderstanding of which Mr. Ferrars Lucy married -- not for long, anyway. Edward arrives, announces that he's unmarried, but Lucy has married Robert, and then off he goes because honestly, that's enough news for one day, am I right?
What does Elinor do? Does she go into hysterics? No, that's Marianne, and she's not even the one involved in this love quadrangle! Elinor *almost* runs out of the room (running was unladylike, especially in the house, so she maintains proper behavior even now) and closes the door behind her... and then "burst into tears of joy, which at first she thought would never cease" (p. 670). Final, definite proof that it's not that Elinor doesn't feel deeply, but that she "will be mistress" of herself (p. 666). No one is going to control her by playing on her emotions, the way Willoughby preyed on Marianne -- she controls her emotions herself, so no one else can.
Yeah, I don't want to stop here, so I'm going to read the next couple chapters as soon as my kids finish school. Here's hoping I have time to post about them yet today too. And then... the giveaway! And we'll be done!
1. Do you think Willoughby will continue to regret losing Marianne, or is he going to move on pretty quickly?
2. Did you just read straight on to the end instead of stopping here?