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Sense and Sensibility

The title “Sense and Sensibility” is a metaphor for the two main characters in Jane Austen’s novel. Elinor is very practical we see this when they are trying to find somewhere to live and when they are trying to sort out what they are putting on the shopping list. Elinor is also realistic, serious, thoughtful and more cautious about Willoughby.

Marianne is prejudiced against Colonel Brandon I think this is because of his age she doesn’t appreciate the real person. Marianne also has little experience of men and of love, she doesn’t recognize Willoughby’s type or how he really is, she also still wants all the luxuries that she had before even though she knows she cannot. This shows that Elinor represents sense and Marianne represents sensibility.

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On the journey to London Elinor is determined to find out everything she can about Willoughby. She is also determined that no matter what happened she would open her sister’s eyes to the truth.

‘Should the results of her observations be unfavourable, she was determined at all events to open the eyes of her sister;’

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On Elinor and Marianne’s first day in London, Marianne writes a letter to Willoughby and upon sending it we see her getting more and more restless. After having eaten hardly any dinner she returns to the drawing-room. When somebody knocks on Mrs. Jennings’s own door Marianne is sure it is Willoughby. As the person comes closer to the drawing-room door Marianne seems close to throwing herself upon him as she is sure it is Willoughby. When Colonel Brandon enters Marianne cannot hide her disappointment and immediately leaves the room.

‘ “Oh! Elinor, it is Willoughby, indeed it is!” and seemed almost ready to throw herself into his arms, when Colonel Brandon appeared.’

‘It was too great a shock to be borne with calmness, and she immediately left the room.’

After several days of hearing nothing from Willoughby, you can see that Marianne is very sensitive to how people treat her. You can see this because after only 4 days of not hearing anything from Willoughby she has completely given up hope and doesn’t care about her appearance or whether she goes to the party or stays at home. She doesn’t have one look of hope or one expression of pleasure.

‘Marianne, wholly dispirited, careless of her appearance, and seeming equally indifferent whether she went or stayed, prepared, without one look of hope, or one expression of pleasure.’

In this extract the only time we see both Elinor’s and Marianne’s reaction to the same situation is during the party. In this part of the extract, both Marianne and Elinor see Willoughby and they both realize that Willoughby is ignoring Marianne. At this point, Marianne is frustrated for a couple of reasons. One of these is the fact that she has just found out that Willoughby had been in London the whole time and did not bother to contact her. The second reason is that Marianne wants to go and talk to Willoughby but Elinor is holding her back.

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‘ “Good heavens!” she exclaimed, “he is there.- Oh! why does he not look at me? why cannot I speak to him?”

“Pray, pray to be composed,” cried Elinor, “and do not betray what you feel to everybody present. Perhaps he has not observed you yet.” ‘

Although Marianne and Elinor are so different their bond as sisters and friends is unbreakable and they seem to feel each other’s pain and happiness. Elinor treats Marianne as though they are pupil and teacher (Elinor is the teacher). When it really matters their sisterly bond seems to sever any bad feelings the sisters have for one another and they seem to share each other’s feelings. In this extract, we see this mainly after Marianne gets Willoughby’s letter of rejection.

‘On opening the door, she saw Marianne stretched on the bed, almost choked by grief, one letter in her hand, and two or three others lying by her. Elinor drew near, but without saying a word; and seating herself on the bed, took her hand, kissed her affectionately several times, and then gave way to a burst of tears, which at first was scarcely less violent than Marianne’s. The latter, though unable to speak, seemed to feel all the tenderness of this behaviour, and after some time thus spent in joint affliction,’

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Sense and Sensibility. (2021, Sep 27). Retrieved June 29, 2022, from