Compare/contrast how courtship dominates the attention of the sisters in Sense & Sensibility & the friends in The Importance of Being Earnest. How does courtship dominate the attention of...

Compare/contrast how courtship dominates the attention of the sisters in Sense & Sensibility & the friends in The Importance of Being Earnest. How does courtship dominate the attention of Elinor and Marianne compared/contrasted to Cecily and Gwendolyn?

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There is very little comparison--almost exclusively contrasts--between these two sets of women; this is because Sense and Sensibility is meant to explore realistic situations with an ironical narrator while The Importance of Being Earnest is a romantic comedy that is a full blown parody. The characters in Sense and Sensibility have character weaknesses but they are realistic women (they are not even Dickensian caricatures), while the characters in The Importance of Being Earnest are ridiculous.

Elinor attends to courtship by being practical, sensible, realistic and by not dissolving into a flood of unchecked emotion. Marianne attends to courtship by acting without thought of consequence; by being foolish and making herself a spectacle; and by being ruled by unguarded and at some points wholly unrestrained emotionality (called sensibility). Cecily inconceivably creates a devotion to a ne'er-do-well and a scheme of reclamation of his moral decay that she calls devoted love while Gwendolyn insists that the man she loves would no longer be loved were his name anything but Earnest. Happily for John his name actually is, though unbeknownst to him, Earnest. The only similarity is that all ladies are concerned for wealth and social position in one or another.

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Sense and Sensibility

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