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Sense and Sensibility: What kind of person are you?

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Rosie, Online English Teacher at Acadsoc.

Rosie, Online English Teacher at Acadsoc.

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There are some combinations that may never work. Oil and water, hot and cold, fear and success – but how about sense and sensibility? In the simple term, sense can be defined as a faculty by which the body perceives an external stimulus; one of the faculties of sight, smell, hearing, taste, and touch, but it can also be a feeling, subconsciously kneading at you. Sensibility, on the other hand, is the quality of being able to appreciate and respond to complex emotional or aesthetic influences; sensitivity. Taking these two into account, we can ultimately view them as a good combination, being able to notice externalities and internalities, being able to appreciate them and then deal with them positively.

What is love? Only those who have felt it knows – but the reality is that it is different for all of us, it means so much to so many people. Many of us are in precarious positions, forcing us to make sacrifices in our values, beliefs, and accomplishments. One of the few combinations in life that really work, and work very well together, is love and happiness – and Sense and Sensibility is a book that takes us on a journey where we can see if these two can exist independent of one another, in any relationship.

Jane Austen has had a knack for writing books that empower the woman – therefore empowering the modern woman as a result. When we look at society, we often see where we can fit in, then try to maneuver in such a way that might satisfy those requirements – however, that puts us in a position where we neglect our sensibility and ultimately, our happiness.

Overview and Characters

This is the story of Elinor and Marianne Dashwood, sisters who respectively represent the “sense” and “sensibility” of the title. With their mother, their sister Margaret, and their stepbrother John, they make up the Dashwood family.

Henry Dashwood, their father, has just died. Norland Park, his estate, is inherited by John; to his chagrin, Henry has nothing but ten thousand pounds to leave to his wife and daughters. On his deathbed, he urges John to provide for them and John promises that he will do so. He is already wealthy because he has a fortune from his mother and is also married to the wealthy Fanny Ferrars.

Immediately after Henry’s burial, the insensitive Mrs. Dashwood moves into Norland Park and cleverly persuades John not to make any provision for his stepmother and stepsisters. Mrs. Henry Dashwood, disliking Fanny, wants to leave Norland Park at once, but Elinor prudently restrains her until they can find a house within their means. Charles Bingley: He is Fitz’s best friend. His purchase of an estate (Netherfield) is the impetus of Pride and Prejudice. Like Jane, his demeanor is the direct contrast of Fitz.[1]

Elinor Dashwood

Elinor embodies “sense” in this particular novel. At nineteen years old, she is her mother’s confidant, able to influence her in the directions of prudence. When the time comes for Mrs. Dashwood to pursue leaving Norland Park, it is up to Elinor to try to stop her from acting too impulsively.

Marianne Dashwood

“She was sensible and clever, but eager in everything; her sorrows, her joys, could have no moderation.” The perfect way to describe this young lady.

Mrs. Dashwood

Mrs. Dashwood is the kind of person that cannot be disliked, she has impeccable manners with “a sweetness of address”. She has dedicated all her might to her daughters and she is very proud of them.

Fanny Dashwood

Fanny represents the bad parts of wealth – being spoiled and entitled. Her ego is so big that she believes that what is good for her, is good for everyone.

Edward Farras

Edward is the modern-day Oxford graduate but without a specialization. His mother wants him to be something big in the world, but “All his wishes centered in domestic comfort and the quiet of private life.”

Robert Farras

“Silly and a great coxcomb,” Robert believes that his feelings, or rather beliefs, Trump those of his brother.

Mrs. Farras

A character whose life thrives through the dependency of her sons.

John Willoughby

“Uncommonly handsome”, he is the hero, even though not in the way we would imagine it.

Lucy Steele

Her beauty is the ticket to a better life, and of course, for guys like Edward, it is the first thing that catches his eyes.

Quotes

This book is filled with notable quotes, some which are period-specific, but some which we will be able to relate to for centuries to come.

  1. “The more I know of the world, the more I am convinced that I shall never see a man whom I can really love. I require so much!”

Maybe by our own standards, maybe for our own accomplishments – but maybe for our inability to convince someone to be the best that they can be, we may find ourselves lonely as a result. But that’s just how it is sometimes if you refuse to settle, nobody may settle for you.

  1. “If I could but know his heart, everything would become easy.”.

For most of us, it is easier to love knowing that we are loved. The reality, however, is that you never really know someone’s heart, and half the time you walk into love blindly, trusting, or better yet, wishing that you are loved just as much, if not more.

 

Recommendation

In its entirety, the book highlights so many issues that are pertinent to the metamorphosis of the ideal woman, not for a man, but for herself. Feminism is defined differently by different people and so is love. What we can acknowledge is that unlike men, a woman’s disposition can have one of two extremities – either loving wholeheartedly, accommodating and bending herself backward to make things work and on the flip-side, not relenting on her standards. The book takes us on a journey where we see if love and happiness, can ever exist independently without the other. Ask yourself this: Can I love without being happy and can I be happy without love?

Sense and sensibility take us on a journey like all Jane Austen’s books, empowering the modern woman in the ways of (common) sense and sensibility. This book is recommended for any (man or) woman, looking to reflect on what the course of relationships is – or what the course of relationships should be.

[1] https://www.cliffsnotes.com/literature/s/sense-and-sensibility/book-summary

[2] https://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/2809709-sense-and-sensibility

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