Elinor is as prudent as her sister Marianne is impetuous. Each must learn from the other after they are they are forced by their father’s death to leave their home and enter into the contests of polite society. The charms of unsuitable men and the schemes of rival ladies mean that their paths to success are thwart with disappointment but together they attempt to find a way to happiness.
“I wish, as well as everybody else, to be perfectly happy; but, like everybody else, it must be in my own way.”
Sense and Sensibility features some of Austen’s best satirical critiques of the Regency era in her works, particularly when it comes to the treatment of women.
The novel follows the Dashwood sisters, Elinor, Marianne and Margaret (but mainly the two older sisters) as they navigate a new life after their father passes away and they’re left to the whim of their half-brother and his money-hungry wife. Elinor and Marianne are particularly pressured into ensuring they marry well to take care of the rest of their family, including their mother.
Elinor is the more practical sister: she is understanding and a little judgemental, but is definitely the family’s moral guide as she has the most common sense out of all of them. Elinor falls for a man named Edward Ferrars, the brother of her sister-in-law, who is initially quite shy and described as not that handsome. However, Edward has been secretly engaged to another woman for years, and Elinor is forced to swallow her feelings for him as she assist him and befriends his finance, Lucy. Elinor is incredibly sensible and selfless — I honestly felt for her the most out of all the characters, especially as she goes out of her way to be so kind to everyone, including Colonel Brandon who is in love with Marianne.
Marianne, on the other hand, is a clear contrast to her elder sister: she’s a bit silly, very romantic, and dramatic. She becomes enthralled by a man named John Willoughby, who purposefully leads both Marianne and her family on, but ultimately has her heart broken by him. Colonel Brandon, who is much older than Marianne, still harbours feelings for her, and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed their relationship, especially because Marianne’s dramatic nature is curtained when she marries him — I’m not sure I like the reading that all a silly girl needs to become mature is to marry an older man, but Marianne didn’t have much of a choice!
I expected to enjoy Sense and Sensibility more than I did. It’s not a bad novel, but it’s much drier than I expected considering how this is considered one of her most popular books, on par with Pride and Prejudice. I still had a fun time reading this book, but I can’t call it a favourite Austen book.