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Sneaking a Peek at Sense & Sensibility Entry 25

People: Elinor, Lucy Steele

Text: After the holidays, Mrs. Jennings had a strong desire to return to her residence in London to enjoy the thrills of the season. Concerts, plays, and operas awaited the guests seeking to block out the weariness of winter in England. With her mind set on leaving her daughter and son-in-law and heading to the city, Mrs. Jennings thought that she’d love the company of Elinor Dashwood and Marianne and invited them to join her for an extended visit. Marianne, hoping to be able to see Willoughby was excited for the visit. Elinor less so. But their mother gave permission.

               The conversations about Edward Ferrars had run its course, and it finished with rather a strange turn. Lucy Steele sought Elinor’s advice on whether to break off the engagement. She began.

               “I believe it would be the wisest way to put an end to the business at once by dissolving the engagement.  Though it would make us miserable for a time, we should be happier perhaps in the end. But, you will not give me your advice, Miss Dashwood?”

               “No;” answered Elinor, with a smile, which concealed very agitated feelings, “on such a subject I certainly will not. You know very well that my opinion would have no weight with you, unless it were on the side of your wishes.”

               “Indeed you wrong me,” replied Lucy with great solemnity; “I know nobody of whose judgment I think so highly as I do of yours; and I do really believe, that if you was to say to me, ‘I advise you by all means to put an end to your engagement with Edward Ferrars,’ I should resolve upon doing it immediately.”

               Elinor blushed for the insincerity of Edward’s future wife, and replied, “This compliment would effectually frighten me from giving any opinion on the subject had I formed one. The power of dividing two people so tenderly attached is too much for an indifferent person.”

               “Tis because you are an indifferent person,” said Lucy, with some pique, and laying a particular stress on those words, “that your judgment might justly have such weight with me.”

               Elinor thought it wisest to make no answer to this. From this time the subject was never revived by Elinor. For she felt such conversations to be an indulgence which Lucy did not deserve, and which were dangerous to herself.

Emotion: insincerity

Insight: Proverbs 14:15 reminds, “The simple believes everything, but the prudent gives thought to his steps.”


               Facing the prospect of seeing Edward in London and wanting to wrap things up with her conversations with Lucy about him, Elinor takes the prudent step of guiding the communication. It is obvious to Elinor that Lucy is at best insincere and at worst intentionally manipulative. It appeared that she suspected Elinor’s attachment to Edward and was skillfully attempting to bait her with her words. She claimed Elinor was indifferent and impartial, but the way she said it implied otherwise. Elinor refused to follow that path again.

               Lucy Steele embodies the simple human. She claims that she would break her engagement with Edward if Elinor advised it. But Elinor, seeing through her guise, sidesteps the veiled compliment. She gives thought to her conversational steps and realizes that further speaking of this subject oddly indulges Lucy and only brings pain to herself. May we be prudent like Elinor and be wise enough to see through the traps of others. And let us practice skillful sidestepping even in our conversations to protect our hearts from unnecessary damage.

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