Sense and Sensibility (Jane Austen)

After the utter failure that was The Elegance of the Hedgehog, I needed something to read I knew would be good. So, I resorted to another classic – Jane Austen‘s Sense and Sensibility.


For those who don’t know, Sense and Sensibility is the story of two sisters, Elinor and Marianne. The main focus is on Elinor, the older one. She’s rational, composed, intelligent and feels responsible for everything/one. Marianne seems to be her exact opposite – passionate, outspoken, spontaneous. Both fall in love, Elinor with Edward Ferrars and Marianne with John Willoughby. Of course, that isn’t the end of the story yet.

[SPOILERS follow]

S&S is my favourite Austen story so far, although I don’t think that will change with her other books. The reason: I identify myself with Elinor A LOT. Like in an unhealthy amount. I watched the movie and I read the book and basically anything she said made me go, “that’s exactly how I see myself! it’s exactly what I’d do, were I a 19th century girl!” [Though I do think that I’m a little less judgmental.] Subsequently, I love Edward Ferrars. He’s so cute and sweet and principled and just tries to do everything right, no matter the cost.

I also really like Marianne. Oh, and Colonel Brandon is my #3 favourite Austen man*, you just gotta love him. I have to admit, the way Marianne get’s married to him irked me a bit. I mean, I love CB, but it’s clear that Marianne does not, at first. And then this quote:

Mrs. Dashwood was acting on motives of policy as well as pleasure in the frequency of her visits at Delaford; for her wish of bringing Marianne and Colonel Brandon together was hardly less earnest, though rather more liberal than what John had expressed. It was now her darling object. Precious as was the company of her daughter to her, she desired nothing so much as to give up its constant enjoyment to her valued friend; and to see Marianne settled at the mansion-house was equally the wish of Edward and Elinor. They each felt his sorrows, and their own obligations, and Marianne, by general consent, was to be the reward of all.
With such a confederacy against her—with a knowledge so intimate of his goodness—with a conviction of his fond attachment to herself, which at last, though long after it was observable to everybody else—burst on her—what could she do?

I mean, Austen does point out that she later comes to love him, but still, basically she’s the payment for Brandon being so nice to help out her sister’s love. And that hurts.

And in the movie it’s not like that. It’s a bit more melodramatic, yes, but melodramatic is what Marianne needs to fall in love. And in the movie, she does.
Another difference between book and movie: Maybe I’m a little good-hearted, if not to say naive, but Lucy Steele in the movie was annoying and a little dumb, but she was not that calculating, was she?

Anyway – if you can’t tell – I just love this book.

*The Ranking so far (knowing Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility and Emma [though I haven’t read that one yet]):

  1. Edward Ferrars
  2. George Knightley
  3. Colonel Brandon
  4. a cross between Fitzwilliam Darcy and Charles Bingley

13 thoughts on “Sense and Sensibility (Jane Austen)

  1. Marianne is like the Princess whose father, the King, marries off to a stranger so he can gain new allies, or reward others for their help. Princesses always make good currency.

    Elinor is very sensible and rational, but don’t you think there is also a whiff of not-exactly-heartlessness, but an inability to empathize with her own sister? :)

  2. Very true. It’s just that the stranger turns out to be a good guy.

    I don’t think that Elinor doesn’t empathise with her sister, no, she suffers with her. It’s just that you don’t notice it that much, because she tries – and usually is able – to conceal it.
    But I do think that there’s a part of her that is convinced that Marianne brought at least a part of it on herself. Which doesn’t mean that she isn’t compassionate.
    If that makes any sense. :)

  3. I’ll spare you the Ode to Brandon (since you’ve already heard it a gazillion times), but I read that part a little differently.

    Sure, the others conspired against her to get her hitched, but after all the events of the book, doesn’t *everyone* feel that he should get her? For everything he has been through, and everything he has done for her, and all the goodness of him? (and for looking like Alan Rickman, of course?) The others want what’s best for her in their own weird ways, but don’t you think that Marianne Dashwood, of all people, would have packed up and left for Zanzibar, or the West Indies or somewhere equally dramatic before consenting to marry a man she couldn’t love?

  4. Actually, what you’re saying is that Brandon deserves payment for everything he’s been through (which has nothing to do with Marianne, mostly) and everything he’s done for her family – and Marianne should be that payment.

    Look, I’m not saying that I don’t love Brandon or that I don’t like the ending, in the end it does work out fine for everyone. But Austen makes it pretty clear that Marianne does not love Brandon, when she marries him. She comes to love him little by little after a while.

    And yes, Marianne-pre-Wollioughby would have packed up and gone. But once bitte, twice shy. She swore herself she would act more like Elinor and Marianne keeps to her promises.
    Also, it’s not that Marianne COULDN’T love Brandon, she just DIDN’T yet.

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