Polar Opposites in the Novel Sense or Sensibility

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Polar Opposites in the Novel Sense or Sensibility Polar opposites. Night and day. Hot and cold. These are just some adjectives and nouns that are on opposite sides of the spectrum. The words are perfect ways of contrasting the characters of Marianne and Elinor in the novel Sense and Sensibility. Sense, defined as the ability to be aware of things around her describes Elinor. She is the calm, quiet and collective sister, who makes decisions based on practicality. Sensibility, or the trait of being affected by changes in surroundings fits Marianne. She's the foolish, whimsical and irrational sister, driven by passion and emotion. Both characters are put in similar situations throughout the book and, true to the title, act with sense and sensibility. Elinor's courtship with Edward against Marianne's affair with Willoughby contrasts the characters ideas of marriage and love. Elinor, though interested in Edward, would not admit anything more than having "great esteem" for him. Elinor looked at the situation practically, citing that Mrs. Ferras would be the ultimate factor in their courtship because Edward's future (and fortune) depended on what Mrs. Ferras thought of Edward's possible wife. Thus, Elinor waited for more proof before she got carried away. Marianne couldn't believe Elinor's reserved attitude, calling Elinor "cold-hearted" for not saying more positive things. As far as Marianne was concerned, love and nothing else determined the possibility of a good marriage, a fact confirmed by Marianne's courtship with Willoughby. After falling and meeting her "knight in shining armor," Marianne quickly fell in love with Willoughby wi... ... middle of paper ... ...arrying Colonel Brandon, who also had displayed sense throughout the novel, Marianne further bridged the gap between her and sense. Through Marianne and Elinor were polar opposites at the beginning of the novel with Elinor acting completely with sense and Marianne with sensibility, they managed to come more towards a moderate spot in the spectrum. Marianne finally acted with sense, marrying Colonel Brandon, a more practical marriage than Willoughby. Meanwhile, Elinor displayed some sensibility, finally shedding tears that had built up throughout the book. Austen appropriately named this novel "sense and sensibility," and not "sense or sensibility," because she wanted to convey the idea that either extreme of the spectrum leads to misery and unhappiness. By balancing the two, Marianne and Elinor found tranquility.
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