Sense And Sensibility Book English Literature Essay
The Book I am to do my Book Report is Jane Austens Sense and Sensibility. This book was written sometime around 1795 when Jane Austen was about 19 years old. It was first called “Elinor and Marianne”, which was later changed to its actual title. In 1811, it was published in London by Thomas Egerton. I’m not certain about the number of pages the original book had, but nowadays, depending on the Editorial, the novel can be around 352-384 pages long.
Something I like about this novel, is the fact that it is written in 3rd person, which means an omniscient narrator, who knows everything about the story and characters’ feelings, is telling us the story from an objective and external point of view, so I believe that leaves us with freedom to make our own judgments about what it is going on and characters’ decisions, behaviors, and manners.
Jane Austen never specifies a time or year in the story, but as she wrote her first draft in 1795, most people (including me trying to use common sense), believe it is set in the 19th century; maybe she thought time was not important, or perhaps she wanted to make this something eternal that us readers can relate to no matter what century we live in or our circumstances.
This story happens in London, and takes us during the whole narration from town to countryside; we have London, which is pretty much the “capital” or big city where aristocracy resides, and we have natural spaces as Norland Park and Barton Cottage, which to me, accentuate the drama and romantic atmosphere we can sense during the reading.
I found kind of hard to understand the reading at first because of the several names and families the book talks about, so I think it would be better if before the plot, I describe the main and minor characters that appear in this story and I will try to put them in an order which makes the characters easier to identify and relate.
Of course we first have the Dashwood Sisters, being Elinor the oldest, Marianne the middle one, and Margaret the youngest.
Elinor Dashwood is the oldest of the three sisters. She is 19 years old and always thinks about her family and what is best for them. In order to protect her family she hides her feelings from them and tries to help them in any way she can. I have read that some people think Jane Austen might refer to the “sense” with Miss Elinor, but I also think she has her “sensibility” part too, so as Marianne has also some “sense”. The most important conflict Elinor has to go through is her impossible love with Edward Ferrars (who I will describe later).
On the other hand we have Marianne, the “sensibility”. She is the middle sister of 17 years old. She loves reading, poetry and expressing her feelings. She cannot act contrary of what she feels and is quite impulsive and sometimes even imprudent. She awoke two gentlemen’s love: Mr. Willoughby and Colonel Brandon.
Miss Margaret Dashwood is the youngest and I do not find her very relevant or as a main character, but I would describe her as an adventurous girl who dreams of travelling all over the world.
Another main character would be Mr. Edward Ferrars. He is the oldest brother of the Dashwood’s sister-in-law. He meets the Dashwood ladies while visiting Fanny and Henry Dashwood in the house the women lived. He soon creates a special bond with all of them, especially with Elinor who he falls in love with. Despite from what his mother and sister want from him, another important reason why he cannot be with Elinor is that he had been engaged to a young woman for four years, though he does not love her anymore but would never bring shame on her by breaking his promise due to he is an honorable man.
Then we have Mr. John Willoughby, an attractive and sensitive man Marianne falls in love instantly with. Throughout the reading we can tell he is much more interested in money and stability rather than love.
Finally, I would like to describe Colonel Brandon as the last person I consider a main character. He is in his middle 30’s and is considered as an old man to most people. He falls in love with Marianne, who reminds him of a girl he used to love many years ago, but had to let go because she married his brother. When he finds out that Marianne is in love with Willoughby, he does not interfere and thinks he is just too old for her and she would be better with someone like Mr. Willoughby.
Now, I will write 2 or 3 lines about some minor characters so the plot makes sense and becomes easier to follow.
John Dashwood: he is the oldest son of Henry Dashwood and half-brother of Elinor, Marianne, and Margaret. He promised his dad he would help his sisters but ends not doing so under his wife influence.
Fanny Dashwood: she is John’s wife and Elinor’s, Marianne’s and Margaret’s sister-in-law. She is extremely concerned about society, aristocracy and social position. Fanny is the one that convinces John not to give the fair fortune the Dashwood ladies need.
After this brief information about “Sense and Sensibility” character, I would now tell the novel’s main plot.
As I said before, this story takes place in a 19th century London. It stars telling about the Dashwood family who had lived for many generations at Norland Park, and how the property ended in John Dashwood’s hands when his father while laid dying in bed tells him the house is his by law and makes John promise he would talk care of his 3 half-sisters and step-mother. John really means it when he promises to take care of them, but his wife Fanny soon makes him change his mind and is only willing to give a small amount of money a year to support them.
John and Fanny visit his now home at Norland Park where Elinor, Marianne, Margaret and their mother lived, hoping they would soon find somewhere else to go and leave the house at once.
While waiting for some responses to applications they made requiring a new house, Fanny’s brother Edward, comes to visit them. He creates in a matter of few days a special bond with Elinor. Fanny being aware of this persuades Mrs. Dashwood of Elinor being not what Edward deserved or who she would like his brother to be married to.
Mrs. Dashwood receives a letter from a distant relative, Sir John Middleton, who offers the ladies a house to live in paying a low rent, and feeling intimidated, and I think also offended, by Fanny she soon leaves the house with her daughters to Barton Cottage.
When the Dashwood ladies arrived, they meet a number of new characters implicated but which I think irrelevant for a general summary. Now moving on to the main events, someone worth talking about is Colonel Brandon as well as Mr. Willoughby.
Colonel Brandon is a close friend of Sir Middleton, and when he visits his dear friend, he gets to meet the Dashwoods and gets particularly interested in Marianne; but she thinks he is just old and not someone she would fall in love with, so no matter how Colonel Brandon would try, she just would not get interested.
One day while going for a walk with Margaret, Marianne sprains her ankle and is unable to walk. Luckily for her, Mr. Willoughby finds her and carries her home. Of course, this act wins instantly the ladies’ gratitude and Marianne’s admiration.
As days go by, Willoughby and Marianne get closer and closer. They both share the same free spirit and passion for arts and literature. Just when Marianne thinks Willoughby would propose, he tells her he has to return to London for an undefined period of time and leaves her broken hearted.
Lucy Steel, a distant relative of Sir Middleton, who the Dashwoods had met in a party, confesses Elinor she had been secretly engaged with Edward Ferrars. Elinor is torn apart inside, but masks it and promises to not say a word to anyone.
Sir Middleton’s mother-in-law, Mrs. Jennings, maybe in an attempt of cheering the girls, invites Lucy, Elinor and Marianne to London, and they all accept to go.
In a ball at London, Marianne and Willoughby see each other. She is very pleased, but he acts cold and distant. Of course Marianne cannot understand his behavior, but later she receives a letter from him apologizing for maybe not making his intentions with her clear and saying he just estimated her as a friend, and communicating he was to be married with a rich girl. Later, Colonel Brandon reveals to Elinor that Willoughby had made his 15 year old daughter pregnant and ran from his responsibilities. Naturally, Willoughby was disinherited and had to marry a rich lady.
The Dashwood sisters return to the country, Marianne gets depressed and gets ill. While Marianne was in bed, Willoughby stops by and confesses Elinor his feelings for Marianne are true, but accepts his actions and leaves. When Marianne gets healthy again, she starts finding Colonel Brandon interesting and estimating him.
Meanwhile, Lucy’s secret engagement is discovered by Fanny and Edward’s mother threats him with disinheritance if he did not break his engagement. Edward keeps his promise with Lucy and accepts to be part of a parish so he can marry her.
At the end of the novel, a servant tells the Dashwoods he had just seen the new Mrs. Ferrars and communicates them they had married the last day. Then Edward visits the ladies and tells them Lucy had married his youngest brother Robert, and not him. He had not broken his promise to Lucy and now was free to marry Elinor.
After a couple years, Marianne marries Colonel Brandon. Both couples live close to each other, so they can visit often, and after a long and difficult journey, Elinor and Marianne had at last found eternal happiness.
I chose this particular book just based on the Marianne’s and Elinor’s name, for my name is “Mariana Leonor” so I found this funny and decided to read it, besides, I read Elinor was taken as “sense” and Marianne as “sensibility” and I think those are qualities I have and surprisingly I have to say I am fascinated on how much Marianne and I are similar. We’re both 17, enjoy arts and are extremely sensible, so I would definitely identify with her. This book sure filled my expectations and would definitely recommend it not just to girls but also to boys. It shows different sides people have and what we all silent. I also think it has a moral message which tells us not to care much for venal things such as money or social position, like Mr. Willoughby who might have been very happy with Marianne’s love but rather chases his selfish ambitions.
Overall, I would read this book again and I am looking forward to read more of Jane Austen’s work and get involved again in another eternal story.
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