Which scenes from Sense and Sensibility demonstrate that Marianne is guided by violent, unrestrained emotions, which Austen calls sensibility?

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One scene in Sense and Sensibility that demonstrates Marianne's sensibility (violent, unrestrained emotion) is when she bids farewell to the trees, leaves, flowers, wind, etc., etc. at Norland Park on the eve of the Dashwood family retreating from Norland to live at Barton Cottage. Her mode of farewell, a mode many of us would engage in as well, is purely in keeping with Romantic period views and meant to elaborate on Marianne's propensity for debilitating emotionality, since her farewell renders her useless in the task of preparing to move.

Another scene that offers a more mild demonstration of her sensibility is one of her earliest conversations with Willoughby in which they share raptures over Marianne's favorite authors, poets and pieces of music. Another occurs much later on at Mrs. Johnson's home upon first arriving in London in which Marianne goes rushing in from morning visits to see if there is a message from Willoughby after having been incautious enough to send him a letter.

In another scene shortly thereafter, Marianne's sensibility is demonstrated by her behavior at a ball when Willoughby approaches in a cold and distant manner and won't even take her hand in greeting. A subsequent scene shows Marianne's behavior and resultant illness upon receiving Willoughby's letter of explanation at which time Mrs. Johnson tries to rectify the pain Marianne feels by giving her foods and wines especially obtained for her. These lead to the most dramatic of such scenes when, while convalescing, Marianne goes walking to see Combe Magna, Willoughby's estate, in a rain storm, which leads her to fall into a life threatening illness.

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Sense and Sensibility

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