Sense And Sensibility By Jane Austen

A painting reminding Sense And Sensibility by Jane Austen

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen: A Regency-Era Tale


Sense and Sensibility, written by the renowned English novelist Jane Austen, is a timeless classic that takes readers on a journey through the social intricacies of Regency-era England. In 1811, Jane Austen published Sense and Sensibility anonymously and at her expense. This novel explores the themes of love, class strictures, decorum, societal expectations, and the contrasting natures between sense and sensibility. Austen captures the era’s essence as a gifted raconteur, making it a must-read for literature enthusiasts and history buffs.

The Subject of Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen 

Sense and Sensibility narrates the story of the lives of the Dashwood sisters, Elinor and Marianne, as they navigate the challenges of love and societal norms. After their father’s death, the sisters Elinor and Marianne, their mother, Mrs. Dashwood and younger sister Margaret are left in a precarious financial situation.

According to the Regency-era inheritance laws, property was passed to the male heirs, leaving the female lineage dependent on the will of family and friends. In the novel, John Dashwood, the half-brother of Elinor and Marianne, had the right to inherit their family home, leaving the Dashwood family’s women dependent on the goodwill of other family members. The subject of Jane Austen’s novel Sense and Sensibility revolves around the contrasting qualities of sense and sensibility and their impact on the lives and relationships of the characters.

The novel explores the lives of the Dashwood sisters, Elinor and Marianne, as they face and endure the challenges of love, strict societal rules, and personal growth. Elinor embodies sense, emphasising rationality, practicality, and restraint in her actions and decisions. Marianne, on the other hand, represents sensibility, emphasising emotional depth, passion, and spontaneity. Through their experiences, Austen explores the consequences of extreme adherence to either sense or sensibility. The novel depicts the complexities of relationships, the influence of traditional societal norms, and the importance of finding a balance between reason and emotion.

Themes such as love, marriage, social class, and the role of women in society are also prominent throughout the novel. Austen’s sharp wit and keen observation of human nature are employed to highlight the foibles and follies of each character, as well as to critique the limitations placed upon women in the Regency era. Overall, Sense and Sensibility delves into the interplay between sense and sensibility, illuminating the challenges and rewards of finding a harmonious blend between reason and passion in one’s life and relationships.

Elinor Dashwood

Elinor, the elder sister, embodies the qualities of sense, displaying a rational and practical approach to life’s challenges. 

Some of the key features and traits associated with Elinor Dashwood include:

1. Pragmatic and Level-headed: Elinor is known for her practicality and level-headedness. She approaches life’s challenges calmly and rationally, often as a voice of reason for those around her.

2. Emotional Restraint: Unlike her sister Marianne, Elinor exercises emotional restraint and rarely reveals her inner feelings to others. She keeps her emotions private and prefers to handle them controlled.

3. Sense: Elinor embodies the concept of “sense” in the novel. She values reason and practicality, making decisions based on careful consideration rather than impulsive emotions.

4. Loyalty and Devotion: Elinor is a loyal and devoted sister and friend. She constantly supports and protects those she cares about, even if it means sacrificing her happiness.

5. Strong Sense of Duty: Elinor has a strong sense of duty and responsibility. She prioritises fulfilling her obligations and upholding societal expectations, often putting the needs of others before her own.

6. Intellect and Wit: Elinor possesses intelligence and wit, which she uses in conversations and interactions. She is wise and quick to understand the motives and behaviours of those around her.

Throughout the novel, Elinor’s character demonstrates resilience and the ability to navigate challenging situations with grace and integrity. Her growth lies in balancing her rationality with expressing her needs and desires.

The sisters’ contrasting personalities lead them down different paths as they encounter various suitors. Elinor finds herself drawn to Edward Ferrars, a kind and reserved gentleman. However, Edward’s secret engagement with another woman, Lucy Steele, complicates their relationship. Despite her heartbreak, Elinor remains steadfast and supportive of her family, displaying her admirable sense and wisdom throughout her trials.

Marianne Dashwood

Marianne Dashwood has some features and traits contrasting with her sister Elinor, such as:

1. Romantic Nature: Marianne is known for her passionate and romantic nature. She is deeply affected by emotions and tends to wear her heart on her sleeve.

2. Sensibility: Marianne embodies the concept of sensibility in the novel. She is highly sensitive and reacts strongly to joy and sorrow, often expressing her emotions openly.

3. Artistic and Musical Talent: Marianne loves the arts, particularly music and poetry. She is a skilled pianist and enjoys composing her songs.

4. Impulsive and Impetuous: Marianne tends to act on her emotions without considering the consequences. Her impulsive nature often leads her into trouble or heartbreak.

5. Romantic Idealism: Marianne holds romantic ideals and dreams of finding a love that matches her passionate nature. She longs for a deep, soulful connection and is often disappointed when reality falls short.

6. Contrast to Elinor: Marianne’s character contrasts her sister, Elinor Dashwood. While Elinor is more practical and reserved, Marianne represents human nature’s unrestrained and emotional side.

It is worth noting that Marianne undergoes personal growth and learns important lessons throughout the novel, ultimately finding a balance between sensibility and practicality.

Marianne initially falls passionately in love with the dashing John Willoughby, a charming but ultimately unreliable suitor. Her sensibility leads her to believe in the power of love at first sight. Nevertheless, she soon discovers the consequences of such impulsive behaviour. Marianne represents sensibility, embracing her emotions and passions with fervour. 

Margaret Dashwood 

Margaret Dashwood is a character in Jane Austen’s novel Sense and Sensibility. She is the Dashwood family’s youngest sister, including Elinor and Marianne Dashwood. While Margaret is a minor character in the story, she plays a significant role in highlighting the dynamics within the Dashwood family.

Margaret is portrayed as a curious and lively young girl. She is often depicted as an observer, quietly witnessing the events and conversations around her. Although she is not as prominent as her older sisters, Margaret’s presence adds a touch of innocence and youthfulness to the story.

Margaret’s character serves as a contrast to her older sisters. While Elinor embodies sense and rationality, and Marianne represents sensibility and passion, Margaret showcases youthful enthusiasm and an unjaded perspective. Her character also serves as a reminder of the vulnerability and impressionability of the younger generation.

Throughout the novel, Margaret’s interactions with other characters, such as Mrs. Jennings and Sir John Middleton, provide moments of lightheartedness and humour. Her genuine and unaffected nature adds charm to the overall narrative. Although Margaret’s role may be relatively small, her character contributes to the dynamics of the Dashwood family and provides a refreshing perspective within the story.

Willoughby And Colonel Brandon

Willoughby and Colonel Brandon are two prominent male characters from Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. The main features and traits associated with each of them can be resumed as follows: 


1. Charismatic and Charming: Willoughby possesses a charismatic and charming personality that easily attracts others, including women. He is skilled at making others feel special and valued.

2. Romantic and Passionate: Willoughby is known for his romantic nature and passionate demeanour. He pursues love and relationships with intensity, often swept away by his emotions.

3. Reckless and Impulsive: Willoughby tends to act impulsively, often disregarding the consequences of his actions. These choices lead him to make rash decisions that harm himself and those around him.

4. Social Status Conscious: Willoughby is conscious of social status and wealth. He is drawn to wealthier prospects and willing to choose based on financial gain rather than genuine love.

Colonel Brandon:

1. Reserved and Gentle: Colonel Brandon is characterised by his reserved and gentle demeanour. He is quiet and thoughtful, often observing situations before actively participating.

2. Honorable and Reliable: Colonel Brandon is known for his strong sense of honour and reliability. He is a man of his word and can be trusted to fulfil his promises.

3. Wise and Experienced: With his maturity and life experience, Colonel Brandon offers wisdom and guidance to those around him. He has endured personal hardships and understands the complexities of life.

4. Deeply Romantic: Though initially appearing reserved, Colonel Brandon harbours deep romantic feelings. He demonstrates unwavering love and devotion, especially towards Marianne Dashwood.

Both characters play significant roles in the novel, with Willoughby representing the consequences of impulsive actions and shallow love. At the same time, Colonel Brandon embodies the virtues of loyalty, steadfastness, and genuine affection.

Themes and Social Commentary

Sense and Sensibility offers a nuanced critique of the rigid social norms and expectations prevalent during the Regency era. Austen explores the limitations placed upon women, particularly in matters of inheritance and marriage. The Dashwood sisters’ struggles to secure their futures highlight the vulnerability and dependence women of the time faced.

Austen also delves into the complexities of love and relationships. Through the contrasting characters of Elinor and Marianne, she examines the importance of balance between reason and emotion. Elinor’s measured approach to love and life serves as a counterpoint to Marianne’s impulsive and passionate nature. Austen ultimately suggests that a combination of both sense and sensibility is crucial for happiness and personal growth.

Moreover, the novel provides a glimpse into the social dynamics of the era, with its strict class divisions and emphasis on etiquette. Austen’s sharp wit and astute observations satirise the hypocrisies and pretensions of the upper classes, shedding light on the often frivolous pursuits and shallow judgments of the time.

The Deep Meanings of Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Sense and Sensibility is one of Jane Austen’s most celebrated works, and it goes beyond its surface-level romance and societal commentary to explore profound themes and offer valuable insights into human nature. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen delve into the complexities of love, societal expectations, and the delicate balance between reason and emotion. By unravelling the deep meanings embedded within its pages, it is feasible to acquire a deeper appreciation for Austen’s literary genius and the timeless relevance of her storytelling.

The Dichotomy of Sense and Sensibility

At the novel’s heart lies the dichotomy between sense and sensibility, embodied by the Dashwood sisters, Elinor and Marianne. As illustrated previously, Elinor represents sense, displaying rationality, self-control, and a practical approach to life’s challenges. Marianne embodies sensibility, embracing her emotions and passions with fervour.

Austen skillfully explores the consequences of an imbalance between these two qualities. Elinor’s restrained nature allows her to deal with society’s strictures, class prejudices and personal disappointments gracefully, while Marianne’s unchecked sensibility leads her to experience heartbreak and disillusionment. Through their contrasting journeys, Austen demonstrates the importance of striking a harmonious balance between reason and emotion to achieve personal growth and happiness.

Love and Relationships

Sense and Sensibility delve into the intricacies of love and relationships, shedding light on the complexities of human connections. Austen challenges societal norms and expectations regarding courtship and marriage and emphasises the significance of genuine emotional connection over superficial considerations.

The novel explores the consequences of marrying for wealth or social standing, as seen through the ill-fated relationships of characters like Lucy Steele and John Willoughby. Austen highlights the importance of shared values, mutual respect, and emotional compatibility in forming lasting and fulfilling relationships.

Social Critique

As with many of Austen’s works, Sense and Sensibility offers a keen social critique of the Regency era. Through the lens of the Dashwood sisters’ experiences, Austen exposes the limitations and vulnerabilities faced by women in a society where inheritance laws favoured male heirs. She challenges the notion of women as passive personalities dictated by the societal expectations of that period, advocating for the influence and the recognition of their intellectual and emotional capacities.

Austen also satirises the shallow judgments and hypocrisies of the upper classes, shedding light on the trivial pursuits and superficiality that often dominated their lives. Her sharp wit and astute observations critique societal norms and call for a more authentic and genuine way of living.

The Uniqueness of Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen is unique in several ways. The Romantic movement was diffusing in England, and the concept of sensibility acquired an essential presence in contrast with reason and will.

Sense and Sensibility was the first published novel of the brilliant author, showcasing her remarkable talent for storytelling and character creation. The story explores the lives of the Dashwood sisters, Elinor and Marianne, as they experience direct contact with the reality of love, societal restrictions, rigid classifications based on socioeconomic status, and personal growth.

Austen’s keen observation of social customs and the restrictions placed on women during that period is one aspect that sets Sense and Sensibility apart. She delves into class, inheritance, and the limited options available to women regarding marriage and financial stability.

Another unique aspect is Austen’s portrayal of contrasting personality traits through Elinor and Marianne. Elinor embodies sense, rationality, composure, and practicality, while Marianne embodies sensibility, passion, emotion, and romantic idealism. Austen’s exploration of these contrasting traits adds depth to the characters and highlights the importance of finding a balance between reason and emotion.

Lastly, Austen’s wit and satire shine through in Sense and Sensibility. She skillfully critiques societal conventions, exposes hypocrisy, and provides sharp social commentary while maintaining a captivating and entertaining narrative.

Overall, the uniqueness of Sense and Sensibility lies in Austen’s ability to craft relatable characters, explore social dynamics, and infuse her work with intelligence and social critique, making it a timeless masterpiece of literature.

The Interplay of Sense and Sensibility  

Sense and Sensibility revolves around the dichotomy between sense and sensibility, embodied by the Dashwood sisters, Elinor and Marianne. Austen masterfully weaves their contrasting personalities, highlighting the interplay between reason and emotion.

This beautiful Regency-era take is enriched with symbolism. Elinor, the epitome of sense, embodies rationality, pragmatism, and self-control. Her thoughtful and measured approach to life’s challenges allows Elinor to endure societal prospects and personal dismay gracefully. Whilst Marianne personifies sensibility, embracing her emotions and passions with fervour. Her impulsive and passionate nature often leads her to experience the heights of joy and depths of despair.

Rather than pitting these qualities against each other, Austen presents them as complementary forces that must coexist harmoniously. The unicity lies in the understanding that sense and sensibility have their merits and flaws, and a balance between them is necessary for personal growth and happiness.

The Complexity of Emotions 

Sense and Sensibility delves into the complexity of human emotions, showcasing Austen’s ability to portray the intricacies of love, heartbreak, and resilience. Through the experiences of the Dashwood sisters, the novel explores the profound impact of emotions on individuals and their relationships.

Austen challenges the societal norms that often are against expressing emotions, and hence, she emphasises the importance of acknowledging and understanding one’s feelings. The unicity of Sense and Sensibility lies in Austen’s ability to capture the nuanced range of emotions, from the joy of falling in love to the pain of heartbreak, creating a deeply resonant and relatable narrative.

Social Analysis in Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen 

Sense and Sensibility story also serves as a platform for Austen’s social commentary, shedding light on the limitations and expectations imposed by the Regency-era society. Austen critiques the rigid class divisions, the emphasis on wealth and status, and the gender inequalities prevalent during that time. Through her sharp wit and astute observations, Austen challenges societal conventions and encourages readers to question the superficiality and hypocrisy of the upper classes. The unicity of Austen’s social commentary lies in her ability to address these issues with subtlety, humour, and a keen understanding of human nature.

The Regency Era through Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Sense and Sensibility, written by the renowned British author Jane Austen, provides readers with a captivating glimpse into the social intricacies and cultural nuances of the Regency era. This Regency-era tale showcases Austen’s skillfulness as narrator and creator and serves as a valuable window into the society and customs of early 19th-century England. By examining Sense and Sensibility in the context of the Regency era, readers can gain a deeper understanding of Austen’s work and the historical backdrop against which it unfolds.

The Regency Era

The Regency Era refers to a period in British history from 1811 to 1820 when King George III was considered ineligible to rule, and his son, George IV, the Prince of Wales, served as his regent. This period is often extended to include the years leading up to and following the official Regency, encompassing the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The Regency Era is known for its distinctive social, cultural, and artistic developments, including the rise of Romanticism and Regency fashion. As a time of transition, The Regency era was considered a time of transformation and change, both politically and culturally, as the British Empire expanded and society underwent significant shifts.

The Influence of Social Class

The novel Sense and Sensibility vividly portrays the rigid social hierarchy and the importance of social class during the Regency era. Austen’s characters are bound by societal expectations, where one’s social standing and wealth greatly influence one’s prospects for marriage and overall societal status. The novel highlights the challenges encountered by women, particularly those from the middle class, who often depended on advantageous marriages for financial security and social advancement.

Courtship and Marriage in Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Courtship and marriage were central themes in Regency society, and Austen’s novel delves into the complexities and expectations surrounding these institutions. Sense and Sensibility explores the delicate balance between love and feasibility as characters have to deal with the pressures of societal norms and the pursuit of personal happiness.

Austen’s portrayal of courtship rituals, such as dances, social gatherings, and formal introductions, provides readers with an understanding of the intricate rules and expectations that governed romantic relationships during this era. The novel also reveals the consequences of marrying for wealth or social status, as characters like John Willoughby face dilemmas related to societal obligations and personal desires.

Etiquette and Manners

Regency society greatly emphasised etiquette and manners, and Sense and Sensibility offers a glimpse into the strict codes of behaviour governing social and sentimental interactions. Austen’s characters must adhere to social conventions, highlighting the importance of etiquette, decorum, and polite conversation. These societal expectations often masked underlying emotions and desires, adding drama and depth to the characters’ interactions and conflicts.

The Role of Women

Sense and Sensibility sheds light on the limited roles and expectations imposed on women during the Regency era. Austen’s female characters navigate a society that often undervalues their intelligence and agency, highlighting their challenges in asserting their independence and finding personal fulfilment.

In Jane Austen’s romance Sense and Sensibility, the role of women in society is depicted through the experiences of the Dashwood sisters, Elinor and Marianne. During the Regency period, women’s roles were primarily confined to the domestic sphere, and their main focus was on marriage and family.

Elinor Dashwood embodies the ideal of the “sensible woman”. She is practical, level-headed, and exercises self-control. Elinor understands the societal expectations placed upon women and embodies propriety. She demonstrates intelligence, emotional strength, and resilience, often acting as a voice of reason and stability for her family.

On the other hand, Marianne Dashwood symbolises the element of “sensibility” in the novel. She is passionate, emotional, and guided by her feelings. Marianne challenges societal norms by openly expressing her emotions and rejecting the idea of conforming to social expectations. She represents a more unconventional and free-spirited view of womanhood.

Austen explores the limitations placed on women through the Dashwood sisters’ experiences. They both encounter obstacles and face the consequences of society’s expectations. The novel highlights the importance of finding a suitable marriage for financial security and social status and women’s vulnerability when they lack such protection.

Overall, Austen’s Sense and Sensibility offers a nuanced portrayal of women in society during the Regency era, capturing the constraints, challenges, and aspirations that shaped their lives.

Symbolism in Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Sense and Sensibility is not only a literary masterpiece by Jane Austen, but it goes beyond its engaging plot and memorable characters. Indeed, this romance incorporates rich symbolism that adds significance and layers of meaning to the narrative. This novel employs various symbols to convey themes, emotions, and societal commentary. By unravelling the symbolism within Sense and Sensibility, readers can gain a deeper appreciation for Austen’s artistry and the hidden messages she weaves throughout her work.

The Weather

Throughout Sense and Sensibility, the weather serves as a symbolic backdrop, reflecting the characters’ emotional states and the story’s overall atmosphere. Austen skillfully uses weather patterns like rain, storms, and sunshine to mirror the characters’ moods and foreshadow significant events. For instance, rain often appears during moments of sorrow or emotional turmoil, symbolising the characters’ hardships and challenges. Storms may represent internal conflicts or societal upheavals, while sunshine signifies moments of joy and resolution. By employing weather symbolism, Austen adds deepness to the narrative and enhances the readers’ understanding of the characters’ emotional journeys.

The Landscape

The landscape in Sense and Sensibility is another powerful symbol reflecting the characters’ emotions and inner conflicts. Austen uses the natural surroundings to mirror the characters’ states of mind and their evolving relationships.

The countryside, with its serene beauty and picturesque landscapes, often represents a sense of tranquillity and a refuge from the constraints of society. Conversely, cityscapes and crowded spaces symbolise the strict social norms and the pressure to conform to societal expectations.

For example, the contrast between the peaceful countryside of Barton Cottage and the bustling city of London underscores the Dashwood sisters’ journey from a sheltered rural life to the complexities of urban society. Through landscape symbolism, Austen invites readers to consider the impact of the environment on the characters’ experiences and choices.

The Piano in Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen 

In Sense and Sensibility, the piano symbolises the characters’ emotional expression and societal expectations. Playing the piano is associated with refinement, elegance, and the ability to conform to societal norms. The piano represents both social status and emotional expression in the Regency era. 

In the novel, possessing a piano is seen as a mark of wealth and refinement. It is a status symbol that signifies a certain level of social standing and cultural sophistication. The Dashwood sisters, Elinor and Marianne, inherit their father’s estate, which puts them in a precarious financial situation. The fact that they have to give up their piano when they move to a more modest home reflects their diminished circumstances and highlights their economic challenges.

Furthermore, the piano is also used to convey emotional depth and sensibility. The embodiment of passion and romanticism, Marianne is often associated with the piano. Her intense and expressive nature finds an outlet in her music, where she can pour out her emotions. The piano allows her to channel her sensibilities and connect with her inner self.

Overall, the piano in Sense and Sensibility symbolises social status, economic circumstances, and emotional expression, highlighting the themes of class, love, and self-discovery Austen explores throughout the novel.

Moreover, the piano symbolises the tension between personal expression and societal constraints, highlighting the characters’ struggles to balance their true selves and expectations.


Sense and Sensibility remains a beloved literary classic, captivating readers with its engaging plot, well-drawn characters, and insightful social commentary. Jane Austen’s ability to delve into the complexities of human nature, particularly in matters of love and societal expectations, makes this novel a timeless masterpiece. Through the Dashwood sisters, Austen invites us to reflect on the delicate balance between reason and emotion, encouraging us to embrace sense and sensibility.

Sense and Sensibility is a literary masterwork beyond its romantic plotline, offering readers a profound exploration of human nature, love, and societal prejudices and expectations. Jane Austen’s insightful portrayal of the dichotomy between sense and sensibility, her examination of the complexities of relationships, and her astute social critique continue to resonate with readers today. By delving into the deep meanings of this novel, we can gain a deeper appreciation for Austen’s enduring legacy and the timeless relevance of her work.

Sense and Sensibility showcases Jane Austen’s unparalleled storytelling ability and ability to capture the essence of human emotions and societal complexities. The unicity of this novel lies in Austen’s exploration of the interplay between sense and sensibility, her portrayal of the complexity of emotions, and her incisive social commentary. By immersing ourselves in this work, we can appreciate Austen’s narrative’s enduring relevance and timeless brilliance, making Sense and Sensibility a truly unique and captivating English literature classic.

Sense and Sensibility is an intriguing literary window into the Regency era, offering readers an immersive experience of the social intricacies, cultural norms, and gender dynamics of early 19th-century England. Jane Austen’s insightful portrayal of courtship, marriage, social class, and the role of women allows readers to acquire insights into the historical context against which her novel unfolds. By exploring Sense and Sensibility within the framework of the Regency era, readers can seize a richer understanding of the societal backdrop that shaped her characters and their lives. This masterwork showcases Austen’s distinctive style and explores the unicity of the two contrasting qualities of sense and sensibility.

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen is a fascinating tale of love and societal expectations and incorporates rich symbolism, making the narrative more complex and interesting. Jane Austen’s careful use of weather, landscape, and objects like the piano enhances the readers’ understanding of the characters’ emotional journeys, societal constraints, and the other themes explored in the novel. By decoding the symbolism within Sense and Sensibility, readers can appreciate Austen’s artistry and the hidden messages that make this novel a timeless literary masterwork.

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments