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Austen ends Part I of the novel with Elinor's disappointment and astonishment upon learning of Lucy's secret engagement to Edward. Although this chapter (22) links directly to the next (23), Austen interrupts the plot at this point to focus on her central character. Lucy's revelation is a critical turning point in Elinor's thinking even if not in the development of the story because the eldest Miss Dashwood's slim hopes of eventually marrying Edward are now completely dashed. Only in the next chapter will she begin to digest this news with her characteristic sense and rationality: she reasons that Edward's engagement to Lucy must have been the product of a youthful infatuation rather than a lasting, genuine affection.
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