Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Elinor Dashwood, a young woman representing the “sense” of the title. She is much attracted to Edward Ferrars, Mrs. John Dashwood’s brother, and believes him to be attracted to her. His seeming indifference puzzles her until she learns from Lucy Steele that the two are engaged but cannot marry because of Mrs. Ferrars’ opposition. Elinor arranges for a living for Edward when he shall have taken Holy Orders so that he and Lucy can be married. Elinor is led to believe that the marriage has taken place but soon learns that Lucy has jilted Edward in favor of his brother Robert, because Edward has been disinherited. Edward is forgiven by his mother, and he and Elinor are married.
Marianne Dashwood, Elinor’s younger sister, representing the “sensibility” of the title. She is emotional and impulsive, with highly romantic ideas of love and marriage. Beloved by Colonel Brandon, she considers him too old for her and falls in love with John Willoughby, an attractive young man. When the sisters visit London, Willoughby ignores Marianne, and this rejection makes her emotionally ill. While stopping at a country estate on her way home, she becomes physically ill as well. Willoughby, having heard of the illness, comes to confess to Elinor that his family, incensed at his seduction of Colonel Brandon’s ward, had cut off his allowance, and, having no money, he had been compelled to marry a rich wife. Cured of her infatuation, Marianne learns to appreciate Colonel Brandon’s good qualities and marries him.
(The entire section is 661 words.)
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