Polar Opposites in the Novel Sense or Sensibility Essays

Polar Opposites in the Novel Sense or Sensibility Essays

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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

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