Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen ~Goodreads~
Published by Penguin Classics 2012
Paperback 416 pages ~The Book Depository~
“The more I know of the world, the more am I convinced that I shall never see a man whom I can really love. I require so much!”
Jane Austen’s novel tells the story of Marianne Dashwood, who wears her heart on her sleeve, and when she falls in love with the dashing but unsuitable John Willoughby she ignores her sister Elinor’s warning that her impulsive behaviour leaves her open to gossip and innuendo. Meanwhile Elinor, always sensitive to social convention, is struggling to conceal her own romantic disappointment, even from those closest to her. Through parallel experience of love- and its threatened loss- the sisters learn that sense must mix with sensibility if they are to find personal happiness in a society where status and money govern the rules of love.
My experience with Austen’s work before only consists of reading Persuasion and Northanger Abbey, and so I felt that 2015 would be the year that I read her works from publication order- obviously starting with Sense and Sensibility!
Having watched a film version of the novel starring Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, Alan Rickman and Hugh Grant. I roughly knew what the plot was about, but there were parts, I couldn’t quite remember the outcome only that I knew it was a happy one!
Austen’s humour and wit indulge this book throughout, particularly in her descriptions of how the less likeable amongst her characters, such as Fanny Dashwood. You can’t help but laugh at the brilliance of comedy aspects of this novel.
Sense and Sensibility projects the dependence of single women and the difficulties of inheritance laws are central to the plot- Mrs Dashwood and her daughters inheriting hardly anything due to the eldest son of Mr Dashwood, John Dashwood who inherited all and was expected to give the Miss Dashwood’s a share too. Much to the dislike of Fanny Dashwood, wife of John who persuades her husband to cast off Mrs Dashwood and her daughters. Women were expected to find rich husbands to support them, even if the women were richer than their partners- the husband would inherit all her wealth.
I can’t help but think how frustrating and unjust it must have been to live in such a society where women were oppressed and expected to do as what they were told! I think I would be cast aside if I were to live in Austen’s day, I would be a lost cause if I were told what to do accordingly haha!
Its not just about the financial aspects that shine through in this novel, the relationships between sisters, mothers, children and friends. Its this that holds the novel together, just imagine a coffee shop and a small gathering of women gossiping about their lives. Got it? Well take a thought back and replace the coffee shop with a country house dinner party with dancing and music- you’re in Austen world! These gatherings are important and the beginning of romantic pairings, and with reference to the title the relationships differ depending on the characters approach to life is.
In my opinion the romantic pairings aren’t quite as “ship”worthy as I thought I might find them, I did however adore Marianne as a character. Full of spirit and her “in the moment” approach to life, despite heartache I feel that she experienced much more than Elinor. Elinor being much more reserved with her feelings towards Edward and keeping herself in line, brought through a much more sensible approach. I think a mix of these two women and there’s a great balance to which I don’t think anyone can be for that matter. I felt for Colonel Brandon as he was conveyed as quite the perfect gentlemen, the man you wish for but find more excitement with the naughty Mr Willougbhy!
I feel that the financial theme of the book was much more forward than the romance side of things. The novel revolved around money and it seemed that most of the time the love developed because of a person’s income- which I guess at the time was how it was. Without money life would have been very difficult and your social pride damaged.
Overall I adored this novel, its so well rounded and what I loved most was that everything came together in the end. Austen is such a wonderful author and I simply can’t wait to read the favourite of her works- Pride and Prejudice. Mr Darcy I’m coming to get you!