illustration of Elinor and Marianne Dashwood's faces

Sense and Sensibility

by Jane Austen

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Does Sense and Sensibility leave a sense of sadness despite the main characters' marriages?

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While Elinor marries the man she hoped to, the marriage of Marianne is unexpected and out of character for her. Impetuous by nature, it is very sad to realize that by marrying Brandon, she will become just another wife. Brandon's calm, structured personna will be sure to tame her, and that the Marianne we came to know will no longer exist.

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Spirited, passionate Marianne once believed that a person should only love once in life, wholeheartedly, but circumstances teach her that the world does not conform to that ideal.  The love of her life was to have been Willoughby, but he jilted her; she scorned the idea of Brandon as a suitor because she knew he had loved someone before.  Her marriage to Brandon is thus a sort of compromise, happy enough, but not full of the passion she once believed in. 

Marianne must accept the fact that in the real world, practicality and common sense work much better than intense feeling and emotion.  In marrying Brandon, she does conform, but it is sad to see her idealistic, feisty spirit "tamed", disillusioned and restrained.

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