Sense and Sensibility Questions and Answers
by Jane Austen

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Compare and contrast the characterization of Elinor Dashwood and Marianne Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility. How do they deal with life after their father's death? How do they represent sense and sensibility in their actions and reactions to love and society?

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The usual take on Elinor and Marianne is that Elinor is the reserved, rational one, and Marianne is the emotional, Romantic one. There is plenty of evidence in the book to support this interpretation, beginning with the initial description of the sisters in the first chapter: Elinor “possessed a strength of understanding, and coolness of judgment, which qualified her, though only nineteen, to be the counsellor of her mother,” while Marianne “was sensible and clever; but eager in everything: her sorrows, her joys, could have no moderation. She was generous, amiable, interesting: she was everything but prudent.”

But maybe the best way to understand this pair is to consider what they share, which is the problem of being a woman without property in Regency England, or, more specifically, the problem of being attached to men (Edward and Willoughby) who are false: Edward conceals his engagement to Lucy, and Willoughby, himself in want of money, drops the penniless Marianne to chase...

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