Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Sense and Sensibility is a novel written by Jane Austen. It was published without the author’s name in three volumes in 1811 and it became a classic.

sense and sensibility jane austen

The satirical, comic book gives a clear and sharp depiction of 19th-century middle-class life as it follows the romantic relationships of Elinor and Marianne Dashwood.

The novel, which sold out its first publication run of 750 copies in the middle of 1813, marked a success for its author. It had a second print run later the same year.

It was the first Austen title to be published again in England after her death, and the first illustrated Austen book produced in Britain, in Richard Bentley’s Standard Novels series of 1833.

The novel has been published continuously since 1811 and has many times been illustrated, excerpted, abridged, and adapted for stage, film, and television.

Plot Summary of Sense and Sensibility

Sense and Sensibility is a novel by Jane Austen published in 1811. The story follows the lives of the Dashwood sisters, Elinor and Marianne after their father dies and their stepbrother inherits the family estate, leaving them and their mother with very little to live on.

Elinor, the older sister, is reserved and practical, while Marianne is passionate and emotional. Elinor develops an attachment to Edward Ferrars, a quiet and unassuming man who is the brother of her sister-in-law. However, their relationship is complicated by the fact that Edward is secretly engaged to Lucy Steele, a scheming and manipulative woman.

Meanwhile, Marianne falls in love with John Willoughby, a charming but irresponsible man who seems to return her feelings. However, he abruptly leaves for London, leaving Marianne heartbroken and disillusioned. It is later revealed that he was forced to marry for money and status, and never truly loved Marianne.

The sisters and their mother move to a small cottage in Devonshire, where they become acquainted with their neighbors, including Colonel Brandon, a quiet and reserved man who develops feelings for Marianne.

Elinor learns the truth about Edward’s engagement with Lucy, but is sworn to secrecy. Lucy eventually reveals the engagement herself, freeing Edward to pursue his true love for Elinor.

Marianne, having learned the dangers of excessive sensibility, begins to see the value in Elinor’s practicality and develops a deeper appreciation for Colonel Brandon. In the end, Elinor and Edward become engaged, while Marianne realizes that she has come to love Colonel Brandon and accepts his proposal.

The novel is a commentary on the social conventions of the time, particularly with regard to marriage and the roles of women in society. It is a classic example of Austen’s wit and keen observation of human nature.

Analysis and Reception

Sense and Sensibility was Jane Austen’s first published novel, and it was received positively by critics and readers alike. The novel is known for its sharp wit, insightful social commentary, and complex characters, particularly the two sisters, Elinor and Marianne, who represent the two titular qualities of sense and sensibility.

One of the central themes of the novel is the tension between these two qualities and the question of whether it is better to be guided by reason or emotion. Austen ultimately suggests that a balance of both is ideal and that too much of either quality can lead to problems.

The novel also explores the societal pressures facing women in Austen’s time, particularly with regard to marriage and financial security.

The Dashwood sisters are left with little to live on after their father’s death, and their lack of a substantial dowry makes them less desirable marriage prospects. This forces them to rely on the kindness of relatives and the precariousness of social connections.

Despite its popularity, some contemporary critics found fault with Sense and Sensibility. Some criticized the novel for its lack of action and its focus on domestic concerns, while others found fault with the characters, particularly Marianne, who was seen as overly sentimental and prone to melodrama.

However, over time, the novel has come to be recognized as a classic work of literature, and Austen’s skillful portrayal of the nuances of human relationships and the intricacies of social conventions continues to captivate readers and scholars alike.

What is the Main Problem in Sense and Sensibility?

The main problem in Sense and Sensibility is the financial insecurity faced by the Dashwood family after the death of their father.

As a result of the laws of primogeniture, the family estate is inherited by their half-brother John, leaving the Dashwood women with a small income and no home of their own.

This forces them to rely on the kindness of relatives and the precariousness of social connections, as they struggle to maintain their social status and find suitable husbands for themselves.

Throughout the novel, the Dashwood sisters navigate the complex social and romantic landscape of late 18th-century England, facing obstacles and setbacks as they try to secure their futures.

The tension between the qualities of sense and sensibility also presents a challenge, as Elinor, the more rational sister, must try to reign in her emotions, while Marianne, the more passionate sister, must learn to be more practical and level-headed.

Ultimately, the main problem of the novel is resolved through a combination of luck, social connections, and personal growth, as the sisters find suitable husbands and secure their financial futures.

However, the challenges they face highlight the precariousness of women’s lives in Austen’s time, and the importance of financial security and social status in determining their fates.

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