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In Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility, there are three Dashwood sisters: Elinor, Marianne, and Margaret.
Elinor is the oldest of the three sisters in her family. Whereas Marianne (the middle daughter) is the passionate young woman who cannot exercise moderation in either her great happinesses or great sorrows—and is considered the "sensibility" in Austen's title—Elinor is considered the "sense." Just barely still a teenager at nineteen, she is particularly advanced mentally and emotionally for her age. Elinor's "sense" is seen in her practicality, as well as with her tact, and her strong sense of remaining in control of her emotions. An artistic woman with strong feelings, she governs herself with rational thought. She sees a kindred spirit in Edward Ferrars, feeling that they are much the same. Elinor keeps her innermost feelings private, and she is grounded enough to support her family and hold it together in times of great distress. She is a source of wisdom to Mrs. Dashwood (her mother) and her sisters.
Throughout the book, Austen holds up Elinor as a paragon of virtue.
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