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Sense and Sensibility (1981)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

Synopsis of episode 5 (of 7)

Eleanor and Marianne Dashwood attend an evening at the home of Mrs Ferrars (Edward Ferrars' mother). During a dispute over children's height, Mrs Ferrars slights Eleanor for her honesty and favours Lucy Steele for being diplomatic. Lucy flirts with Edward's brother, Robert, declaring he has exquisite taste. Mrs Ferrars suggests that the Miss Steeles assist her daughter in looking after her grandson Harry; they eagerly agree.

The next day, Lucy visits Eleanor to gloat over Mrs Ferrars' favouring her the night before. Eleanor points out that it would only be significant if Mrs Ferrars knew of Lucy and Edward's secret engagement. Lucy, ostensibly flattering Eleanor (who she sees as a threat and a rival), warns Eleanor off by reminding her that Edward loves her. She remarks that if Mrs Ferrars had been as rude to her as she had been to Eleanor, she would have given up all hope.

Lucy is surprised by Edward's sudden arrival, and Edward is astonished to find Lucy with Eleanor. An awkward exchange of pleasantries ensues, with Lucy carefully watching the interchange between Eleanor and Edward for any sign of emotional attachment. Eleanor leaves the room to fetch Marianne. Alone with Edward, Lucy cattily suggests that Eleanor is ageing poorly, and berates Edward for his short formal letters. Unaware of the secret engagement, Marianne is affectionate to Edward, treating him as the future brother-in-law she believes him to be. Lucy is upset by Marianne's affection, and slyly reminds Edward of his obligation to her. Once they have left, Marianne expresses her surprise at Eleanor and Edward's cold behaviour. She leaves, and Eleanor cries alone.

At Mrs Dashwood's (Edward's sister and the Miss Dashwoods' sister-in-law), Lucy's sister reveals that Edward and Lucy are secretly engaged, believing Mrs Dashwood to be in on the secret, but she is horrified. The Dashwood sisters are informed of this revelation, and Eleanor finally reveals to Marianne that she has known for months but has been sworn to secrecy. Marianne feels guilty for burdening Eleanor with her woes, having assumed that Eleanor was happy. They are summoned to their brother's house and told that because Edward is standing by his engagement, he has been cut off without a penny; Robert will now inherit the estate. Despite being instructed not to, the sisters declare they will continue to see Edward, much to their brother's disgust.