Sense and Sensibility | Sunday Observer

Sense and Sensibility

Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility is set in Sussex, Devonshire and London in the late eighteenth century during a period of cultural change from neo-classicism to romanticism. The plot focuses on the lives of the main characters Elinor and Marianne Dashwood. At the beginning of the novel, Elinor and Marianne live with their parents Mr. and Mrs. Henry Dashwood and younger sister Margaret on a beautiful estate, Norland Park in Sussex. But after the death of Henry Dashwood, Norland Park is entailed to his son John Dashwood by his first wife. On his deathbed, Henry Dashwood makes John Dashwood promise to take care of his half sisters and step mother, but John’s nasty wife Fanny convinces him to break his promise. Fanny makes life difficult for Mrs. Dashwood and her three daughters which compels them to move to Barton Cottage in Devonshire.

After moving to Barton Cottage, the Dashwood’s meet Sir John Middleton and his wife Lady Middleton, his friend Colonel Brandon. Colonel Brandon likes Marianne but she does not feel attracted to him. One day while on a walk in the hills, Marianne has a fall and sprains her ankle and she is rescued by a man named Willoughby. Marianne falls hastily in love with Willoughby who betrays her.

In Sense and Sensibility, Austen emphasizes the importance of striking a balance between excesses of passion and reason. Marianne is sensitive, romantic, passionate and impulsive whereas Elinor is rational, practical and prudent. Austen teaches a lesson about the importance of moderation in love as well as in life, through the character of Marianne and the unnecessary pain she experiences because of her excessively passionate nature which leads her to fall foolishly in love with the wrong man, Willoughby.

Reviewed by Ryhanna Salie

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