Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

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What is the major conflict in Sense and Sensibility?

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As the title indicates, two sisters, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood, represent sense and sensibility, or as we might say today, logic and emotionalism. Elinor is too likely to hide her emotions and Marianne is too much of a drama queen. Both attitudes are too extreme and cause each sister a different kind of conflict. Elinor is so cool her beloved Edward isn't quite sure about her. Also, when Elinor finds out he is secretly engaged to Lucy Steele, she stuffs down all her upset, so she doesn't get the emotional support she needs from the people who care about her.

On the other hand, Marianne is so emotional she jumps to the conclusion that she and Willoughby will be engaged, even though neither has money and he can't afford to marry a woman without a large dowry. She can't hide her emotions and exposes herself to humiliation when she realizes Willoughby has rejected her. She also almost dies because her distress is so extreme.

Elinor has to learn to show more emotion and Marianne has to learn to exercise more commonsense and self-control. The conflict between sense and sensibility is solved through finding a balance between the two ways of living.

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