Marianne rises early and writes a tearful letter. Elinor begins to ask, but Marianne interrupts her—saying she will know all soon enough. Her grief makes it clear she is writing to Willoughby. Elinor tries to soothe Marianne, who does not wish to be consoled.
Elinor tries to distract Mrs. Jennings so she doesn’t notice Marianne’s behavior. Marianne receives a letter and runs out of the room. Mrs. Jennings asks when Marianne and Willoughby are going to marry. Elinor denies there is an engagement. Mrs. Jennings says there is too much proof to the contrary to believe otherwise. She and Charlotte tell everyone about it. Elinor tells her it is not a good idea to do so.
Elinor goes to Marianne, who is overcome with emotion. She hands Elinor Willoughby’s letter. He apologizes for offending her last night. It was not intentional. He always remembers his time with the Dashwoods as very pleasant. He is sorry if he gave Marianne the idea that he meant more than he did. He is engaged to someone else and will soon be married. He is returning her letters and lock of hair. Elinor is indignant that Willoughby pretends he never felt anything for Marianne. She is too angry to speak. She feels Marianne is fortunate to lose such an unprincipled man.
Elinor sees a carriage pull up. She goes to Mrs. Jennings to be excused from the visit, for Marianne is ill.
When she returns to the room, Marianne faints. When she recovers, she laments how Elinor cannot understand her grief, for Edward's love is certain. Elinor says it really is not, and she isn’t happy to see her sister so distressed. She tells Marianne she still has plenty to take comfort in. It is fortunate she found out so soon about Willoughby. The blow would have been deeper if the engagement had lasted longer.
Marianne admits there had never been an engagement. He never even declared his love for her, though she thought he did. Elinor reads Marianne’s letters that Willoughby sent back. The letters are affectionate but not really proper…for Marianne made demands of proof of his affection when she had not basis for what their relationship had actually been.
Marianne believes Willoughby had felt the same about her as she did about him. She believes others conspired against her—namely, this woman he is going to marry. Elinor advises her to act happy as an act of pride so that these others can’t triumph over her. Marianne says she can’t pretend to be happy when she is miserable.
Marianne wishes to return home. She can’t bear to endure the pity she will receive. Elinor tells her they cannot leave so abruptly. It isn’t proper.