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Sneaking a Peek at Sense & Sensibility Entry 15

People: Mrs. Dashwood and Elinor

Text: Mr. Willoughby’s sudden departure not only left Marianne in despair, but also it impacted the lives of the other Dashwood women. Margaret became as upset as Marianne. Mrs. Dashwood went off to give way to her emotions alone, and Elinor was left to practically think through the whole conversation that led up to his leaving. When Mrs. Dashwood returns to discuss things with Elinor, she begins the conversation by accusing Elinor of purposefully looking for the blame in Willoughby. Poor Elinor! She was hardly given the freedom to have or express her own thoughts.

               Mrs. Dashwood began to Elinor, “Yes. I have explained it to myself in the most satisfactory way; but you, Elinor, who love to doubt where you can…it will not satisfy you I know; but you shall not talk me out of my trust in it. I am persuaded that Mrs. Smith suspects Willoughby’s regard for Marianne, disapproves of it, and on that account is eager to get him away; and that business which she sends him off to transact, is invented as an excuse to dismiss him. He is moreover aware that she does disapprove his engagement and feels himself obliged to give into her schemes and absent himself from Devonshire for a while.”

               “I have nothing to say, for you have anticipated my answer,” Elinor said.

               “Oh! Elinor, how incomprehensible are your feelings! You are resolved to think him blamable because he took leave of us with less affection than his usual behavior has shown.”

               Elinor replied, “Suspicion of something unpleasant is the inevitable consequence of such an alteration as we have just witnessed in him. There is great truth though in what you said. But I want no proof of their affection, but of their engagement I do.”

               “I am perfectly satisfied of both,” Mrs. Dashwood finished.

 

Emotion: misunderstanding

Insight: Proverbs 25:28 says, “A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.”

               Poor Elinor! She is the only person in this scene who seems to be capable of self-control. Willoughby is out of control of the details of his life. As a poor relation, he is subject to the beliefs and whims of those from whom he hopes to inherit. Marianne, who only and always gives sway to her passions and emotions, cannot eat supper without bursting into tears. After Mrs. Dashwood has her cry, she confesses what she believes to be true to Elinor but has already anticipated Elinor’s response. Elinor alone suspects that Willoughby is not being above board. She believes that he loves Marianne, but she is not sure that he has ever proposed. Mrs. Dashwood refuses to entertain this doubt.

               In a house full of out-of-control hormones, only Elinor seems to have the sense to try to look at the bigger picture without reading her own hopes into the situation. A person who has completely abandoned self-control has opened themselves up for attack from the enemies of life. Although passion is good, it always needs to be tempered with practical good sense. Drowning in the emotions that we give in to is not a healthy or safe way to live. May we have the sense to see the value of self-control and embrace it as the natural defense that it is against those emotions that would overwhelm and defeat us.



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