What are the different value systems in this novel?  Who holds which ones?  To what extent do they overlap, so that one could hold more than one?  To what extent are they mutually...

What are the different value systems in this novel?  Who holds which ones? 

To what extent do they overlap, so that one could hold more than one?  To what extent are they mutually exclusive?

Expert Answers
cmcqueeney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The value systems in this novel involve the ideas of sense or practicality, romantic sensibility, and social status.  Practicality is exemplified by the heroine of the novel, Elinor.  She cares for her family, avoids emotional drama - unlike her mother and Marianne, and makes decisions based on a moral standard, intellect and social propriety.  Marianne, and Willoughby for a time, characterizes romantic sensibility.  She has a large list of rules for the way life and romance should operate, and when other people or circumstances fall short of her expectations, she falls into sentimental drama, not caring how if effects others.

Everyone in this novel at one point or another is defined by their social status which is primarily determined by their financial means.  For some characters, such as John and Fanny Dashwood, social standing is the determing factor for every decision - who they spend time with, who they consider friends, how they spend their own money, and how they care for their family.

Marianne's sentimentality was exclusive for most of the novel, until she is convicted by seeing Elinor's plight and changes her ways.  Willoughby releases his romantic notions much faster than Marianne when he chooses social/financial status over love.  Both Elinor and Edward choose propriety over all things, and are rewarded with love.  Fanny Dashwood, Lucy, and Mrs. Ferrars base their decisions soley on social standing with little alteration.

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Sense and Sensibility

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