Sense and Sensibility

It’s been a while since I last read Sense and Sensibility I needed to be reminded of Austen’s wonderful prose. For those of you who haven’t read it here is a plot summary (from Wikipedia).

While I was reading it I highlighted a few things I thought brilliant …

They gave themselves up wholly to their sorrow, seeking increase of wretchedness in every reflection that could afford it, and resolved against ever admitting consolation in future.

This was Mrs Dashwood and Marianne after the death of Mr Dashwood.

No sooner did she perceive any symptom of love in his behaviour to Elinor, than she considered their serious attachment as certain, and looked forward to their marriage as rapidly approaching.

Mrs Dashwood’s thoughts on Elinor and Edward.

…and she was reasonable enough to allow that a man of five and thirty might well have outlived all acuteness of feeling and every exquisite power of enjoyment. She was perfectly disposed to make every allowance to the Colonel’s advanced state of his life which humanity required.

Marianne’s thoughts on Colonel Brandon.

…her favourite authors were brought forward and dwelt upon with so rapturous a delight, that any young man of five and twenty must have been insensible indeed, not to become an immediate convert to the excellence of such works, however disregarded before.

Willoughby and Marianne.

In hastily forming and giving his opinion of other people, in sacrificing general politeness to the enjoyment of undivided attention where his heart was engaged, and in slighting too easily the forms of worldly propriety, he displayed a want of caution which Elinor could not approve, in spite of all that he and Marianne could say in its support.

Elinor’s thoughts on Marianne (and this seems to be her guiding principle).

She was without any power, because she was without any desire of command over herself.

Marianne after Willoughby leaves.

… and sometimes displeased ith his uncertain behaviour to herself, she was very well disposed on the whole to regard his actions with all of the candid allowances and generous qualifications, which had been rather more painfully extort from her, for Willoughby’s service, by her mother.

Elinor deceiving herself.

Her thoughts were silently fixed on the irreparable injury which too early and independence and it’s consequent habit of idleness, dissipation and luxury, had mae in th mind, the character, the happiness of a man who, to every advantage of person and talents, united a disposition naturally open and honest, and a feeling, affectionate temper. The world had made him extravagant and vain. Extravagance and vanity had made him cold hearted and selfish.

Elinor’s thoughts on Willoughby after he comes to try to redeem himself in their eyes.

Austen has created charming characters who are witty and enjoyable company but prove to be immoral (the Crawfords in Mansfield Park, Mr Wickham in Pride and Prejudice). This novel contrasts Marianne’s ‘sensibility’ with Elinor’s ‘sense’ and it’s clear Austen endorses ‘sense’. It’s also about being mindful of other people – paying them the proper amount of respect. It is not right of Marianne to indulge her grief because it upsets her family (and makes herself ill).

You can download an e book version of Sense and Sensibility from here. There are also audio books available (a free on from here)

I’m aware of three adaptations:-

Sense and Sensibility BBC (1981)

Sense and Sensibility (Emma Thompson and Ang Lee)

and the latest BBC version

Sense and Sensibility (2008)

I have these three adaptations and I think I will watch them all again. My current thinking is that I prefer the latest version, but we will see.

You might also be interested in the Sense and Sensibility page at


Filed under Miscellaneous

2 Responses to Sense and Sensibility

  1. Marissa

    Hi! I’m trying to reach you about a new Jane Austen-related book coming out, I’d love to send you a copy for review. How can I get in touch with you? Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *