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In Sense and Sensibility, how do Marianne and Elinor Dashwood display the...

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shughes@holyn... | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 31, 2007 at 4:18 AM via web

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In Sense and Sensibility, how do Marianne and Elinor Dashwood display the characteristics of sense and sensibility?

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readingbooks17 | Student | (Level 2) eNoter

Posted January 31, 2007 at 7:19 AM (Answer #1)

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Marianne is all passion and romantic notions. While living out her passions, she is totally self-absorbed and unconcerned with the poor impression that she often makes on others. It is often up to her sister, Elinor, to smooth over her behavior. Marianne believes that it is only in the nature of the human spirit to love once until she is rejected by her one true love, Willoughby. In turn, she must gradually reassess her values and philosophy. She comes to respect the wisdom of sense over sensibility.

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revolution | College Teacher | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted August 26, 2009 at 11:24 PM (Answer #2)

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Marianne Dashwood is very spontaneous, has excessive sensibility and have romantic idealism that leads to her falling heads over heels over a debaucherous John Willoughby, an very attracting but also a deceitful person. She was later cheated by her boyfriend, who dumped her in favor of the rich and beautiful Sophia Grey. It was left to Elinor Dashwood, Marianne's elder sister, who is composed and very affectionate, who comforted her sister when she was down in the dumps after the separation of her boyfriend. It was her that provide the guiding light to the light of illumination and to return her sister to her senses and back to her normal self.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted December 21, 2011 at 12:55 AM (Answer #3)

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You are right in identifying that this novel, like Pride and Prejudice, relates the two central protagonists to the states indicates in the title. The "sense" refers to Elinor, who is shown to suffer through similar trials to her sister. However, significantly, Elinor never expresses her emotions completely and does not let her own personal misfortunes and disappointments impact how she reacts towards others. She is above all a very stoical individual, who, even when she is suffering greatly after finding out about Edward's engagement to Lucy, continues to act as a friend to Lucy in spite of her heartbreak. She shows how sense rules her emotions.

By contrast Marianne represents "sensibility." Let us not forget how Marianne acts towards situations. She jumps in completely, expressing all of her emotions to Willoughby and criticising Elinor for her reserve. She displays freedom in terms of her passions and emotions, and this is depicted by Austen as being selfish compared to the stoic resolve of her sister. The harsh realities of life will definitely make living unbearable for somebody who is ruled by sensibility, as Marianne's subsequent response to Willoughby's abandonment of her shows. Marianne takes to her bed and is unable to function in everyday society, whereas Elinor continues to fulfil the various social obligations of day-to-day life. The strength of sense vs. sensibility is shown by Marianne's marriage to Colonel Brandon, which is based on common sense and not on passionate emotions.

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