What examples of the theme of sense and sensibility can be found in the plot of Sense and Sensibility?
There are of course many examples of this governing theme in this novel, most of them situated around the way that Elinor and Marianne react differently to the problems in love they encounter. Mostly, however, these reactions feature a much larger debate, which concerns how women should act and whether or not they should follow the dictates of society. Mariane is a classic example of a young woman who wants to try and break free of societal restrictions and ideas of what a woman can and can't do, and this can be clearly related to sensibility. Note how she responds to Elinor--the voice of sense--after Elinor tells her she has been too expressive with John Willoughby:
Elinor," cried Marianne, "is this fair? is this just? are my ideas so scanty? But I see what you mean. I have been too much at my ease, too happy, too frank. I have erred against every common-place notion of decorum! I have been open and sincere where I ought to have been reserved, spiritless, dull, and deceitful. Had I talked only of the weather and the roads, and had I spoken only once in ten minutes, this reproach would have been spared.
The reader can clearly understand Marianne's frustration of being trapped in a time where women are meant to be "reserved, spiritless, dull and deceitful," but at the same time the way in which Marianne reacts later on in the novel to Willoughby's desertion of her, compared to how Elinor reacts when she finds out about Lucy's engagement with Edward, exemplifies the dangers of sensibility. The novel ends with Elinor having a new appreciation of her sister's sense, and having learnt the importance of balancing sensibility with sense.
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