Archive for the ‘Elinor and Marianne Dashwood’ Category

Sense and Sensibility centres on the story of two sisters, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood. They appear at first to be opposites – Elinor is rational and sensible and Marianne seems to think and act only on her impulsive feelings and highly charged emotions, though by the end of the book we have witnessed quite a crossover in the way that both girls behave and interact with the world.

Jane Austen and her sister were very close. There were just under a couple of years between them, and we know that they spent much of their time together as they grew up, writing daily letters whenever they were apart. From family recollections we are given the impression that Cassandra, Jane’s older sister, was the more level-headed, and from her letters it appears that Jane looked to Cassandra for guidance and advice. I’m not the first to wonder if Jane drew on her own experiences with her sister Cassandra when drafting her story. Who knows? Perhaps Elinor and Marianne represent aspects of Jane’s own personality, though I’m sure it’s not as simple as that. Jane was too great a writer to simply base her characters on people she knew – her imagination was too good!

Margaret, the youngest, is too young to become a heroine in Jane Austen’s book, though I have made her one in Willoughby’s Return. We are told she is similarly romantic in Sense and Sensibility, and I really enjoyed writing her story.

I’ve been enjoying my blog tour – click here to read a review of Willoghby’s Return from Books Like Breathing.

To celebrate the book’s publication I have a competition today to win the painting above of Jane and Cassandra walking in the snow around Steventon. To enter all you have to do is tell me what you enjoyed about the relationship between Elinor and Marianne in Sense and Sensibility. Click here to enter The competition is open worldwide and closes on November 14th. Winner announced on Monday, November 16th!

Tomorrow I shall be a guest on Jane Austen’s World, so I hope you’ll join me there!


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Jane Austen does not give us physical descriptions of Elinor and Marianne Dashwood at the beginning of Sense and Sensibility. We get a picture of the sisters by the descriptions of their behaviour and the way in which they deal with their father’s death cleverly showing the ‘sense’ of Elinor and the ‘sensibility’ of Marianne in chapter one. It seems Elinor is the only female in the household who can find the strength to carry on with her normal duties putting aside her feelings and emotions in order to get on with greeting her brother and sister-in-law who arrive to take over Norland Park. Marianne and Mrs Dashwood give in freely to their feelings while poor Elinor has to get on with the business of the day.

Elinor saw, with concern, the excess of her sister’s sensibility; but by Mrs. Dashwood it was valued and cherished. They encouraged each other now in the violence of their affliction. The agony of grief which overpowered them at first, was voluntarily renewed, was sought for, was created again and again. 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. Elinor, too, was deeply afflicted; but still she could struggle, she could exert herself. She could consult with her brother, could receive her sister-in-law on her arrival, and treat her with proper attention; and could strive to rouse her mother to similar exertion, and encourage her to similar forbearance.

My painting shows Marianne and Mrs Dashwood encouraging one another in their grief whilst Elinor can be seen in the background having to receive her guests.

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