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The story of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility in brief
This article contains brief story of one of Jane Austin's well known novels Sense and Sensibility. Readers will get a lot of information on the novel through this article. In this article I have tried to show the nature of various characters of the novel.
Jane Austen occupies a remarkable place in history of English literature. She was born on 16 December 1775 at Steventon, Hampshire, England. Her father Rev George Austen was the local rector, or Church of England clergyman and mother Cassandra Austen was a gardener. Jane Austen began her career as a writer from an early age. She completes her first novel Sense and Sensibility at her age of 20 years. She has made a good contribution to history of English literature. After publication of Sense and Sensibility she continues her glorious journey by writing novels. She writes another five novels which has been occupied a significant place in history of novels. These grand novels help her to establish herself as a brilliant novelist in history of English Literature. These noteworthy novels are Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion. She is a realist who tries to draw pictures of social life of her time. She portrays everything in her novels whatever going on around her. It is noteworthy that in the most of her novels matrimony remains her central theme. Jane Austen tries to show some follies and foible of the society by using the humor elements in her novels.
Sense and Sensibility
It is her first significant novel which opens the door for Austen's glorious journey as a novelist. This novel was first write in form of letters in1797 and named as Elinor and Marianne. Later it was published in 1811 in form of narrative and changes the title as Sense and Sensibility. Its first edition came out in three volumes and it became a successful novel of Austen.
Main character of the novel
Mrs. Dashwood - The loving mother of three daughters Elinor, Marianne, and Margaret and second wife.
Elinor Dashwood - The nineteen-year-old eldest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Dashwood is the heroine of Austen's novel. She falls in love with with Edward Ferrars.
Henry Dashwood - The father of John Dashwood and, by a second marriage, of Elinor, Marianne, and Margaret Dashwood.
Fanny Dashwood - The self-centered, arrogant, and devious wife of John Dashwood and the sister of Edward and Robert Ferrars.
John Dashwood - The only heir to the Norland estate after death of Henry Dashwood.
Margaret Dashwood - The thirteen-year-old, good-natured youngest daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Dashwood. She falls in love with John Willoughby. She realizes her mistake in choosing a life partner and finally marries Colonel Brandon.
Marianne Dashwood - The seventeen-year-old second daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Dashwood.
Mrs. Ferrars - The wealthy, scheming mother of Edward and Robert.
Edward Ferrars - The prudent and gracious older brother of Fanny Dashwood and Robert Ferrars. He falls in love with Elinor. Though he is secretly engaged to Lucy Steele but eventually marries Elinor.
Miss Sophia Grey - The wealthy heiress whom Willoughby marries after abandoning Marianne.
Robert Ferrars - A snobbish and arrogant younger brother of Edward and Fanny.
Miss Sophia Grey - The wealthy heiress whom Willoughby marries.
Mrs. Jennings - Lady Middleton's talkative but well-natured mother.
Lady Middleton - A distant relation of the Dashwoods, lives at Barton Cottage with her husband Sir John Middleton and their four spoiled children. She is a very hospitable lady.
Mrs. Charlotte Palmer - Mrs. Jennings'daughter
Anne Steele - Lucy Steele's older, unmarried sister.
Lucy Steele - Mrs. Jennings' cousin. She has been secretly engaged to Edward Ferrars for four years but she ultimately marries his brother.
John Willoughby - A greedy young man who once loves Marianne Dashwood's. Later he abandons her to get wealth by marrying wealthy heiress Miss Sophia Grey.
Colonel Brandon - A good friend of Sir John Middleton who falls in love with Marianne Dashwood. Throughout the novel he acts kindly, and graciously towards the Dashwoods.
story of the novel
The novel is beautifully narrated with two intertwined plots. The novel is about the danger of sensibility in temperament and the advantage of sense. The story is set in southwest England, and depicts the life and loves of the Dashwood sisters the practical Elinor and the sensitive Marianne. Throughout the novel Austen portrays two parallel love stories and how two sisters handle their love relationships.
After death of Mr. Dashwood his wife and three daughters Elinor, Marianne, and Margaret face miserable condition of life because he leaves little money or status for them. His property is inherited by his only son John Dashwood. Though John promises his father to provide help to his step mother and his three step sisters but his self centered and greedy wife does not let him to do so. At last Mrs Dashwood with her three daughters move to a cottage owned by Sir John Middleton in Barton Park, Devonshire estate. Before they leave their old house Elinor silently nurtures her inclination towards Edward Ferrars, a sensible but strangely melancholic young man who is brother of her sister in law.
They leave their father’s house after facing a distressed situation with a meager earning. In Devonshire, they met a group of people including Sir John Middleton, his wife, Lady Middleton, his mother-in-law Mrs. Jennings and another bachelor Colonel Brandon. He is a good friend of Sir John's who is an honest and good-hearted bachelor, who improves a liking to Mariana. But Mariana does not pay much attention to him thinking him too old for romance. Instead of him she attracts towards handsome and dashing Willoughby who helps her during an injury. Marianne begins to admire his good looks and outspoken views on poetry, music, art and love. Gradually they make a cordial relationship with each other and every one begins to think that they will marry very soon. But Elinor always criticizes her excessive sensible and impulsive nature and cautions Marianne against her reckless conduct. But Marianne refuses to check her emotions, believing this to be a falsehood. Suddenly one day Willoughby informs Dashwoods that his aunt has sent him to London for business. He leaves for London without any detail information of coming back.
Edward Ferrars then pays a short visit to Barton Cottage but seems very restless and unhappy for some reasons. Elinor doubts about his feeling that he no longer loves her. But she never exposes her feelings to anyone of her family members. In the meantime Mr. Thomas & Mrs. Charlotte Palmer Lucy and Nancy Anne Steele arrive for a visit at Barton Park. Everything has taken a rapid turn when Lucy Steele discloses to Elinor that she is herself secretly engaged to Edward. Elinor understands the reason of incongruities of Edward's behaviors to her. She is very benevolent and feels pity to Edward for being held to a loveless engagement. Though this news saddens Elinor but she controls her emotions by herself. But being a sensible and prudent by nature, Marriana, cannot suppress her misery by herself and she becomes very frustrated after Mr. Willoughby left for London without detail information.
Mrs Jenning invites both the youngest sisters Elinor and Marianne to London. There Marianne writes a series of letters to Mr. Willoughby and requests him to pay a visit. Mr. Willoughby does not give answers to her letters. One day eventually they met at a party. At the party he greets Mariana reluctantly and frigidly to show his negligence towards her. He is seen with another woman at that party. Soon he sends a letter to Marianne informing his engagement with wealthy heiress Miss Sophia Grey. Mr. Willoughby and encloses their former letters and love tokens, including a lock of her hair. Marianne is overwhelmed with sorrow, and admits to her eldest Sister Elinor that she and Willoughby were never engaged, but she believed him and loved him very much. Then Mr. Brandon also confesses a secret to show dirty sight of Mr. Willoughby character to Mariana that his adopted daughter has been seduced by Willoughby and abandoned her when she became pregnant.
In the meantime Fanny knows about the Lucy's engagement to Edward from Nancy when they pay a visit to London. They fly into a rage and entreat Edward to turn down the engagement. But Mr. Edward remains adamant in his own decision. As a result Mrs. Ferrars disinherits Edward and all his properties are given to his brother Robert. Thus Edward is able to gain prevalent respect for his gentlemanly conduct, and compassion from Elinor and Marianne. Both the sisters understand how much he has sacrificed.
Marianne Dashwood’s fairytale romance goes bitter; as a result she suffers from major illness. Her practical older sister Elinor tries to hide her own frustrated love affairs and deals with the family's financial problems. Elinor does not like to reveal her misery to anyone. She keeps them to herself. Marianne falls seriously ill and almost is about to die. Hearing the news of Marianne’s illness, Mr. Willoughby comes to see her. Drunken Willoughby admits to Elinor that his love for Marianne was genuine and he repents for his wrong deeds. He marries Sophia Grey only for money not for love. By revealing this to Elinor he is able to obtain her pity because his choice has made his life unhappy.
After getting recovery from Mariana’s illness, Elinor tells her about Mr. Willoughby's visit and his confession. Marianne understands the value of sense rather than emotion she begins to appreciate her elder sister Elinor's courage and good sense. She realizes that she could never be happy with Mr Willoughby's immoral conduct. The story finally has a happy ending. Edward is getting married to her former lover Elinor and in a very few years Marianne marries Colonel Brandon.
In this novel Jane Austen shows some absurdities like snobbishness, the imperceptible quivering selfishness and arrogant nature of human character. She portrays an acute picture of human characters with very skillfully. She can read inner mind of characters and tries to show psychological portrayal of these characters. The victory of reasonable thinking over excessive emotion is shown here beautifully. The whole story depicts mainly two unhappy love stories of two sisters and at last with a happy ending of their marriages. Throughout the novel she tries to depict a group of human beings, their relation with one another, basically their conflicts and affinities are shown in this novel on a firm social setting.
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