Sense and Sensibility: A Novel of Moderation

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In her first published novel, Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austin brought to life the spirit of being young, in love and living in the eighteenth century. Her story revealed the heartaches and happiness shared by Elinor Dashwood, who represented sense and her sister Marianne, who stood for sensibility. Both sisters felt strongly for what they unknowingly stood for, but each needed to reach a middle ground to find true happiness. It was not until the end of the novel, through marriage, that Elinor and Marianne overcame their nature of having sense and sensibility. Although the title suggested a story of opposites, Sense and Sensibility was about moderation, and how it was applied to two individuals to create sincere joy.

The Dashwood sisters were alike in many ways: they were both pretty, young and looking for a suitor. Their differences, however, far exceed their similarities. Marianne, the younger sister at seventeen, was described as "sensible and clever; but eager in every thing; her sorrows, her joys, could have no moderation. She was generous, amiable, interesting; she was everything but prudent" [sic] (p. 4). Elinor saw this with concern, for she

"possessed a strength of understanding, and coolness of judgment, which qualified her, though only nineteen, to be the counsellor of her mother, and enabled her frequently to counteract, to the advantage of them all, that eagerness of mind in Mrs Dashwood which must generally have led to imprudence. She had an excellent heart; - her disposition was affectionate, and her feelings were strong; but she knew how to govern them" [sic] (p. 3).

The sisters also had different ideas of what to look for in a husband. Elinor was never specific on what she looked for in a suitor; h...

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...ndship, voluntarily to give her hand to another!" [sic] (p. 259).

Marianne had overcome the passion she had possessed to find happiness, for she "found her own happiness . . . . [and] could never love by halves; and her whole heart became, in time, as much devoted to her husband, as it had once been to Willoughby" (p. 260).

The novel Sense and Sensibility is a wonderful tale of two young sisters who were able to overcome their own personal trials to reach happiness. Elinor was able to show her passion for Edward, releasing a great burden of sadness off her shoulders, while Marianne overcame her passion of Willoughby to love another, her husband. Despite the suggestion of the title, the novel was focused on moderation, and the role it plays in creating happiness.

Works Cited:

Austen, Jane. Sense and Sensibility. New York: Barnes and Noble Inc., 1996.

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