Wednesday, 18 January 2017
SENSE AND SENSIBILITY IN JANE AUSTEN'S 'SENSE AND SENSIBILITY'
In Sense and Sensibility, not all the sense rests with Elinor, nor all the sensibility with Marianne. Both girls have a share of each quality. Unstinting sisterly love is a characteristic of Jane Austen's heroines. We see it in the moving relationship between Elinor and Marianne. When Willoughby suddenly goes away, leaving Marianne heartbroken, Elinor understands her emotions - 'and she thought with the tenderest compassion of that violent sorrow which Marianne was in all probability not merely giving way to as a relief, but feeding and encouraging as a duty'.
A strength of Marianne is that she cares for her sister just as much as Elinor loves her. Heartbroken at Willoughby's departure, she can still share Elinor's joy when Edward Ferrars visits them: 'she dispersed her tears to smile on him, and in her sister's happiness forgot for a time her own disappointment'.
Similarly, Elinor cries when her sister grieves. Marianne, rejected by Willoughby, has received a letter from him, coldly making clear that he has finished with her. Elinor goes to their room where she finds:
Marianne stretched on the bed, almost choked by grief... Elinor drew near, but without saying a word; and seating herself on the bed, took her hand, kissed her affectionately several times, and then gave way to a burst of tears, which at first was scarcely less violent than Marianne's.
Marianne spiritedly speaks up for her sister in a trying situation during the party at the Dashwoods’ house. Elinor is snubbed by Mrs. Ferrars and spited by Lucy Steele. There is an incident involving two screens Elinor had painted for her sister-in-law. When Fanny and her mother-in-law deliberately choose to praise the artistic skills of the heiress Miss Morton, whom they intend Edward to marry, Marianne can take no more.
Marianne could not bear this. She was already greatly displeased with Mrs. Ferrars; and such ill-timed praise of another, at Elinor's expense, though she had not any notion of what was principally meant by it, provoked her immediately to say with warmth –
'This is admiration of a very particular kind! What is a Miss Morton to us? Who knows, or who cares, for her? It is Elinor of whom we think and speak.'
Though most of the company are shocked, Colonel Brandon notices 'only what was amiable in it; the affectionate heart which could not bear to see a sister slighted on the smallest point'.