Among the three Dashwood sisters, Elinor was portrayed as the one who possessed sense. Everytime she was confronted with a problem, she remained to think first before doing an action. For example, when Lucy Steele told about her secret engagement with Mr. Ferrars, Elinor remained to be calm instead of being emotional. She did not overreact and entertained the possibility that maybe Lucy’s lover was not her beloved Edward but the younger Ferrars, Robert.
This characteristic of Elinor is in contrast with her sister Marianne who was presented by Austen as the one with sensibility Unlike Elinor, she became totally emotional and wrecked when she found out the engagement of her beloved John Willoughby. Both of their behaviors had changed, though, at the end of the novel. Marianne’s sensibility was modified when her sister Elinor told her story to her, making the former realized that she should move on and continue living.
Elinor learned to balance sense and sensibility when Edward finally came to her, asking her to marry him. With this, it is evident that marriage was very important on the lives of the characters during that time. It served as their assurance of love for each other. It symbolized not only emotional assurance, but also financial and social stability as well. As for my opinion, Austen agreed in this kind of society’s notions about marriage.
However, her book is also a critic of the society’s perception about love. For me, Austen wanted to promote love by using both sense and sensibility. She probably thought that marriage, being a sacred ritual, should be decided by balancing sense and sensibility. I think this is the main theme that she wanted to convey in her novel.
Austen, Jane. Sense and Sensibility. USA: Cambridge University Press, 2006