Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Review: Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

When Mr. Dashwood dies all his posessions and estate go to John, his son of first marriage. His second wife Mrs. Dashwood and her daughters Elinor, Marianne and Margaret are left on a low income. They move into a small cottage at Barton, where they make many new acquaintances.

For Elinor and Marianne, sisters who could not be any more different, a respectable marriage is desired to establish in life.

Elinor feels attracted to Mr. Edward Ferrars, a pleasant, intelligent but reserved young man and Marianne falls in love with dashing, handsome Willoughby.

When both sisters are invited to come to London in winter to stay with a friend, the engagement of Edward Ferrars as well as Willoughby to other women is revealed. Where Marianne suffers publicly, Elinor suffers in silence as nobody knows of her pain and she wants to spare her sister of more suffering which the knowledge of Elinor's feelings must cause her.

I grew to like the character of Elinor very much, being the one reasonable and responsible whereas Marianne gives way to her thoughts and emotions too freely.

From the introduction to Sense and Sensibility in the Penguin Classics edition:

The main contrast between Marianne's and Elinor's codes of conduct lies in Marianne's romantic insistence that desires be spoken, whereas Elinor requires that they be silenced.

Austen used different traits in characters but unique fates to point out the meaning and difference of sense and sensibility.

Due to Marianne's silence Elinor is pledged to think she experiences everything the first time. She falls in love first, she discovers that Willoughby is already engaged, and she struggles to gain control of her feelings when they are hurt. Only Elinor and the reader knows that Marianne's experiences are a repititon of Elinor's.

That Elinor is the first to become happy is no secret though, and as Marianne becomes happy too some time later, everything appears in the right order again.

I enjoyed reading another Austen (besides P&P) but did not like it enough for five stars. Four stars it is then.