Sense and sensibility Character Analysis

Jane Austen in her masterpiece “sense and sensibility” probes the subject of excessive sensibility. As the novel progresses it goes on to portray as sense being a strong trait and sensibility a weakness. Spanning over three volumes it talks about Mrs. Dashwood and her daughters; Elinor, Marianne, and Margaret. However, the plot mainly revolves around Elinor and Marianne and their love story. They have hopes and are very much in love but both of them get spurned in love for the first time. After heartbreaks and travels, they finally find their true love albeit not exactly what they had expected but they do settle down.

Like all books, the characters are drawn out well to aid the plot. Let us do a character analysis for sense and sensibility:

Elinor Dashwood

She represents the “sense” in this novel. She is nineteen years old and is her mother’s confidante. She influences her mother and helps her to make prudent decisions. A case in point being when Mrs. Dashwood wants to leave Norland Park; Elinor stops her from making hasty decisions and asks Marianne to look at things in a calmer and sensible scenario.

Elinor is different from Marianne in tackling her love life. She is attracted to Edward and when she comes to know about Edward and Lucy’s secret engagement she keeps her self-composure. She is devoted to Marianne as well and agrees to go to London to find Willoughby there and nurse Marianne back to health when she falls ill.

However, at the end, she gets married to Edward and her love and devotion are rewarded.

Marianne Dashwood

Marianne represented the oversensitive heroines of the late eighteenth century novels. All of her emotions were over the top be it her sorrows or her joys. She feels amazed that Elinor likes Edward who is quite plain and feels Colonel Brandon is too old and way past his romance age. She actually falls for the shallow Willoughby. She goes to lengths to please Willoughby and finally when he deserts her she becomes ill.

After she recovers she realizes that she had hurt others and not seen their kindness. At last, she regains her sense and appreciates the true worth of Colonel Brandon and finally marries him.

Edward Ferrars

He is financially dependent on his mother. Though he is privately educated he is not trained for any particular profession. He is an honorable gentleman and keeps his word to Lucy even though he is passionately in love with Elinor. He is a clumsy lover, though. When he is free from Lucy he blurts out his explanation to Elinor but does not propose to her.

He finally proposes to Elinor and they live happily with him effectively carrying out his duties as a country parson.

John Willoughby

His introduction is like the one of a hero who rescues the damsel in distress when he helps Marianne when her ankle gets twisted in the rain and carried her home. He is attracted to Marianne and pays her a lot of attention. However, his true nature comes to fore when he makes fun of Marianne’s admirer, Colonel Bardon.

He eventually deserts her and marries Miss Gray a wealthy woman but he is unhappy with her.

Colonel Brandon

Different people think of Colonel Brandon differently where Elinor thinks of him as faithful and helpful but Marianne thinks of him as elderly and unromantic.

He helps Marianne during her illness from the background. While returning from Cleveland he confesses his love for Marianne. He is of honorable character and fulfills his promises.


There are much more characters in the story but these are the main protagonists and their character is sketched out in such a way which takes the story forward.

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March 24, 2017

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