So, the last part of Sense and Sensibility! Boo Lucy! Yay Elinor and Marianne (especially Marianne)! And, you know, weddings! And lots and lots of indirection, first with Mrs Jennings thinking that Elinor is about to marry Colonel Brandon, when in fact he's actually just offered Edward a job, and then with Elinor thinking that Lucy has married Edward, rather than Robert Ferrars, an episode which really just shows the importance of communicating effectively with your servants! That Lucy is a piece of work though- upon discovering that Edward wasn't at all going to be rich, she didn't hesitate in getting her claws into Robert, and Austen isn't at all quiet in revealing how she feels about that:
"The whole of Lucy's behaviour in the affair, and the propensity which crowned it, therefore, may be held forth as a most encouraging instance of what an earnest, an unceasing attention to self-interest, however its progress may be apparently obstructed, will do in securing every advantage of fortune."In other word, Lucy, you're a gold-digging bitch. But, we're left with the assurance that she, as well as all the other odious characters, are left to their life of horribleness, while all our favourite characters just hang out together and are generally happier! Yay!
But enough about these lame characters we don't really care about. What about Elinor and Marianne? Did Willoughby get his butt kicked? Does Colonel Brandon win Marianne's heart? Well, yes, obviously. But let's start with Willoughby. Because that conversation he had with Elinor was intense and deep, and even made Elinor, who, let's face it, kind of hated him, feel all sorts of pangs for him! And, whilst he didn't get punched in the face (which would really have been well within Colonel Brandon's rights to do, considering what he did to his kind-of-daughter) we can at least be safe in the knowledge that, his wife "was likely to prove a source of unhappiness to himself of a far more incurable nature." The most interesting thing I found about their whole conversation though, was the discussion of the girl who Willoughby wronged. About this, Willoughby says the following:
"I acknowledge that her situation and her character ought to have been respected by me. I do not mean to justify myself, but at the same time I cannot leave you to suppose that I have nothing to urge- that, because she was injured she was irreproachable, and because I was a libertine, she must be a saint."I found this so interesting because, yes, the poor girl has all the consequences on her shoulders, and Willoughby is free to do whatever he wants, at the same time, she still knew what she was doing, and did it anyway. I still feel all sorry for her, but I also feel like Austen has enacted some kind of equal rights clause here, making it clear that the blame must be shared, rather than lumped on one or the other, according to your views, and their gender. It's kind of great.
The main point of Willoughby's visit, though, is in discerning that he actually was in love with Marianne, and that his entire behaviour towards her wasn't all just an act. This is clear enough by the fact that he comes because he thinks she's dying (she is not- and by the way, when I first read this, I was pretty sure that her illness lasted FOREVER, but actually it wasn't really that long! Which was good), but he also spells it out well enough, so that we're satisfied that yep, he regrets everything he's done since leaving Devon, and that he's completely miserable now (YES!) The fact that he confesses all this to Elinor is awesome, because when all Marianne wants to know (and needs to know to recover) is whether or not Willoughby ever cared for her at all, and hey! Elinor totally has that information. Very fortunate. I also wholly warmed up to Marianne in this section, because hey, "Marianne, who had the knack of finding her way in every house to the library, however it may be avoided by the library in general, soon procured herself a book." Hello, my life. She also just generally becomes a lot more reasonable and generally lust for life-y after she nearly dies, which is very very pleasing.
And then, oh, Elinor. She's been such a trooper throughout the entire book, always doing and saying the right things, being sensible but not too sensible, polite but not too polite, and I think we all love and adore her. So, because of this, this section is both upsetting and massively pleasing, one after the other. When Elinor thinks that Edward has married Lucy, it's too upsetting- we know that she deserves the man she loves, so when we think that she isn't going to get him, it's almost too much! And then, when she finds out that they're not married, it's almost too much the other way:
"Elinor could sit it no longer. She almost ran out of the room, and as soon as the door was closed, burst into tears of joy, which at first she thought would never cease."Sigh. And the image of Edward, Marianne and Mrs Dashwood just sitting in the other room, generally awkwardly staring at each other while this is going down is kind of hilarious. And yeah, this part isn't perfect- I could have done with more Colonel Brandon-Marianne action, and an actual marriage proposal, and the ending was sort of rushed, but but but it was still pretty darn great!
So, basically, Sense and Sensibility is fabulous. I wasn't too sure about that until this reading of it, but now I'm assured that it's pretty great, and I already knew that Austen was wonderful, but, you know, I've just kind of re-affirmed that fact. Much as I now have the urge to read ALL THE AUSTEN again, I'll try and restrain myself and look out for more readalongs so I can read them, appreciate them, and review them properly. And, also, kind of swoon over all the awesome.
Here endeth Advent with Austen (for me, anyway). I had a lot of fun, and I hope you all did too! And thanks to Reading Fuelled by Tea, for hosting this readalong!