Indeed, Sidney is not taken in by his brother Arthur's and his sisters' illnesses. He proves to be about twenty-eight, good-looking, 'with a decided air of ease and fashion, and a lively countenance'. We may speculate that Jane Austen intended him to fall in love with Charlotte.
This novel is a testament to Jane Austen's courage. Written when she was dying, it jokes about illness. Jane often tried to make others believe she was better than she really felt. She would insist that her mother (who was to outlive Jane by ten years) should have the place on the sofa, in preference to herself, who really needed it. Jane Austen's mother was just a little of a hypochondriac. As Margaret Drabble says in her introduction (Penguin edition, 1974), Jane 'was too ill to moralize in fiction, and cheered herself up by seeing the world as a joke'.