Compare and contrast the sisters Josephine and Constatina, "The Daughters of the Late Colonel" with Elinor and Marianne, Sense and Sensibility.In Mansfield's short story and Austen's novel,...

Compare and contrast the sisters Josephine and Constatina, "The Daughters of the Late Colonel" with Elinor and Marianne, Sense and Sensibility.

In Mansfield's short story and Austen's novel, please consider the personalities of each sister; how the sisters interact with each other; and what their status is after the death of their fathers.

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

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The sisters Elinor and Marianne from Austen's Sense and Sensibility are very different from Josephine and Constantina from Mansfield's "The Daughters of the Late Colonel." For one thing, they are developed with different levels of skill and they are characters in very different genres, both of which give an uneven playing field for comparison. Nonetheless, some comparison can be successfully made even on this uneven playing field. To start with, Josephine and Constantina are older spinster ladies for whom life has past by. Elinor and Marianne are young women in the bloom of their considerable beauty and grace for whom life is unfurling with abundant promise. Josephine and Constantina are timid, fearful, hesitant and completely unaware of the place they may occupy in the world (if they will but take a place). Elinor and Marianne are confident and courageous souls who have no fear in speaking their minds and asserting their occupancy of very prominent places in their world: Marianne does so with verve and gusto while Elinor does so with decorum and reasonableness.

Josephine and Constantina depend wholly upon one another, thus embodying that old saying that if the two are put together then they have one brain/personality/thought between them. This is symbolically (if not literally) true for Josephine and Constantina who can't make decisions or choices either independently or together. Elinor and Marianne have great differences in opinion, taste, enjoyment and accomplishment. Each can and does easily make independent decisions--Elinor even makes decisions for the family as their mother is not as practical as it is practical for a mother to be. Elinor and Marianne can share together the benefits of their differences (e.g., singing versus painting) while pursuing their own independent interests.

With the death of the Colonel, Josephine and Constantine are bewildered and overwhelmed by the choices and changes open to them and retreat from options into the cocoon of the familiar and habitual. When Henry Dashwood died, Elinor and Marianne (after mourning quietly or loudly) summoned up the courage and determination to make decisions, strike out on a new life in a new location, make new acquaintances and engage in new social activities, while also summoning the strength to continue their old activities in a new version of their family circle. Aside from the fact that each pair of sisters lost a father, they are in no way similar.

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