Sense and Sensibility – Finis

After finishing Sense & Sensibility, I’m not sure that I’m really happy with the ending here.  I never fell in love with a character, nor did I find myself really despising one either.  I find myself (usually quite opinionated and passionate) quite hum-drum with the novel.  Maybe all the talk of money and the focus of financial security really took some of the emotion out of the novel for me, but I find that I’m not really bent out of shape one way or the other about these characters.

  • Elinor  – She clearly deserved better than to be a second choice to Edward.  I know Austen painted it so that his love for Lucy had “obviously” faded and that only his honor had bound him to her.  I get that, but I can’t help but think that Elinor deserved someone much more like Colonel Brandon. She was steadfast and loyal to those she loved.  That should have earned her more than to be a consolation prize to Edward behind the vulgar and tawdry Lucy Steele or the heiress, whatever her name was….
  • Colonel Brandon – I am in love with Colonel Brandon myself, and I just can’t make myself happy with his marriage to the 19 year old Marianne, even if she did do some “hard living” in the years from 17 to 19.  He and Elinor seem a much better fit than he and Marianne.  Although, a the ripe old age of 35, maybe he needed to get a young woman to keep him kicking.
  • Edward – Eehhh, I’m just not very interested in him.  Maybe it took me too long to really get into the novel, or maybe my lack on interest stems from my personal distaste for people who are are wavering and flighty.  Maybe he just strikes me a little too “feminine” in his penchant for changing his mind.
  • Marianne – I’m not really buying her miraculous transformation.  She had many of the same lessons that Emma learned, but Marianne’s redemption doesn’t feel as hard won.  She really reminds me of Tom Burtram in Mansfield Park– the only thing they really did to redeem themselves was survive a deadly illness.  I guess that can be added to getting married and dying as a way to forgive all of one’s sins.
  • Willoughby – got what he wished for, but he’s really too shallow for it to matter very much.  I am disturbed that Austen didn’t make a bigger deal about Col. Brandon’s granddaughter… Did Austen drop the ball here, or would it have been impossible for us to have any forgiveness for Willoughby with that sin front and center ?  Austen does have Elinor remind us of it when she says that she thinks that’s where all of Willoughby’s problems started.  I would like to know the entire story with that one.  I wonder how Marianne will react to that little wrinkle in their domestic peace?
  • Mrs. Jennings – love her by the end – hated her in the beginning.  Her loyalty really won me over, though.

Some of the same these appeared in S&S…

  • city/country
  • the haves/havenots
  • the clergy
  • rebelliousness of youth
  • love within a family connection – not just random attachments

All in all, S&S left me a little cold, especially after Emma. 




Filed under Sense and Sensibility

2 responses to “Sense and Sensibility – Finis

  1. I would love to know the entire story behind Willoughby’s seducement too! Is it just the normal playboy/rake story… I think this is the case. He is the typical bad boy that everyone wants, but if you get him, you will regret it! As we hope Marianne regretted it, however, I don’t buy that she is completely sorry for her actions with Willoughby. I agree with you that the “transformation” that Marianne went through is not believable. Very, very similar to Tom Bertram, but I like Tom Bertram more (maybe because he is a man)?

    Although I liked the novel in a general sense, I am with you that it wasn’t the most intriguing. I did like certain “sensational-like” elements, like when Mr. Willoughby shows up when they are expecting Colonel Brandon, or when Edward shows up and Marianne thinks it is Mr. Willoughby.

    I think I have to re-evaluate now that we have discussed it was her first novel. I think Dr. Woodworth made a great point that Austen was trying to display the extremes of characters to make a point. I think I understand why the focus is so much on money, because that was such a great and instrumental factor in Jane’s life.

  2. I could not agree more with your assessment/evaluation of S&S. I found myself frustrated at the end – wanting something, anything else than what I got. Yeah, everyone ended up in a semi-happy place, except the ones who did not deserve it, but I WANT MORE. And maybe you are right about the reading order. If I had not read Emma first, I may not have been so disappointed with the ending of this one. But, I can’t help it – I LOVE EMMA.

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