illustration of Elinor and Marianne Dashwood's faces

Sense and Sensibility

by Jane Austen

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Compare and contrast Elinor and Marianne in Sense and Sensibility.

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On the surface, both sisters are in dire straits with the death of their father, as their inheritance goes to their older brother, with minimal support due to the interference of Fanny, their sister-in-law. Both are in love with men who are, in some way, out of reach and unavailable, though Marianne does not disciver Willoughby's unavailability until later.

In contrast, Elinor embodies sense. She is in control of her emotions and is the leader of the two (in fact, the leader of the family due to her mother's intense grief). Marianne, however, is all sensibility (or as we would say, sensitivity). She in no ways endeavors to conceal her emotions and is constantly ruled by them.

In the end, as all triumphs in love, both sisters marry what may be called "safe" men. Men with good, if not extravagant income, who are pleasant though not wildly exciting and attractive. They both find happiness in marital bliss in its most coservative sense, appropriate for the late 18th century.

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