Compare and contrast the sisters, Elinor and Marianne, in Sense and Sensibility to Cecily and Gwendolyn in The Importance of Being Earnest.

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M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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Elinor and Marianne are two very connected sisters who have a major social burden: Their estate has been entailed to a relative and the only way women in their day and time would obtain any right or property would be through marriage.  Marriage, however, often did not come for love but for the merging of family fortunes. Unfortunately for Elinor and Marianne, however, they did not have a fortune, and their chances of "marrying well" are limited.

The character of Elinor is that of an independent woman who wants to find love and prefers to abstain from social norm. She is fiery, and she is an uber romantic. Marianne is the more maternal of the sisters, and serves as the rock of a very dysfunctional family.

Contrastingly, Cecily and Gwendolyn are not sisters. They are both engaged to the same imaginary man named Ernest. The Ernest that they know are Algernon and Jack, respectively, both of whom claim to be named Ernest Worthing just to console the girl's obsession with marrying a man by the name of Ernest.

Cecily is a rich lady from the contry, and a ward of Jack. She is imaginative, and created from scratch a relationship with this Ernest she is obsessed with before even meeting the fake Ernest, Algernon. She is clueless, but comes out fiercely to defend her Ernest from Gwendolyn.

Gwendolyn is a society lady from the city who has also been duped into thinking that her fiance is named Ernest. Similarly to Cecily, she is clueless and acts quite snobby to Cecily to reinstate her status as a city aristocrat. However, both Cecily and Gwendolyn join forces at one point to counteract and fight the "Earnests" that had fooled them.

In all, Cecily and Gwendolyn have very little in common with Elinor and Marianne. The first pair denoted more malice and less intelligence than the latter. If anything, they are alike in that social expectations are placed upon them through marriage and the need for status.

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