Sense and Sensibility

( 601 )

Overview

One of Jane Austen's most beloved novels, brought to life in a sparkling dramatization!

When Mr. Dashwood dies, he must leave the bulk of his estate to the son by his first marriage, which leaves his second wife and three daughters (Elinor, Marianne, and Margaret) in straitened circumstances. They are taken in by a kindly cousin, but their lack of fortune affects the marriageability of both practical Elinor and romantic Marianne. When Elinor forms an attachment for the wealthy ...

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Overview

One of Jane Austen's most beloved novels, brought to life in a sparkling dramatization!

When Mr. Dashwood dies, he must leave the bulk of his estate to the son by his first marriage, which leaves his second wife and three daughters (Elinor, Marianne, and Margaret) in straitened circumstances. They are taken in by a kindly cousin, but their lack of fortune affects the marriageability of both practical Elinor and romantic Marianne. When Elinor forms an attachment for the wealthy Edward Ferrars, his family disapproves and separates them. And though Mrs. Jennings tries to match the worthy (and rich) Colonel Brandon to her, Marianne finds the dashing and fiery Willoughby more to her taste. Both relationships are sorely tried. But this is a romance, and through the hardships and heartbreak, true love and a happy ending will find their way for both the sister who is all sense and the one who is all sensibility.

The Dashwood sisters are very different from each other in appearance and temperament; Elinor's good sense and readiness to observe social forms contrast with Marianne's impulsive candor and warm but excessive sensibility. Both struggle to maintain their integrity and find happiness in the face of a competitive marriage market.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"As nearly flawless as any fiction could be."
Deidre Lynch SUNY at Buffalo
"The complexity and courage of Sense and Sensibility get their due in this wonderful new edition, which features an illuminating and sometimes surprising selection of contextual materials. Kathleen James-Cavan's introduction provides a readable, trenchant account of the characteristically bold ways in which Austen went public as a woman novelist and negotiated the power of literary precedent."
From Barnes & Noble
This first of Jane Austen's published novels is the story of two starkly different English sisters: Elinor Dashwood, the epitome of prudence & self-control, and her younger, more impetuous sister Marianne, who embodies emotion, openness, & sheer enthusiasm.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780141439662
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/15/2003
  • Series: Penguin Classics Series
  • Edition description: REV
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 366,304
  • Product dimensions: 5.22 (w) x 7.75 (h) x 1.07 (d)

Meet the Author

Jane Austen (1775) was an English novelist whose works include Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, Emma, Mansfield Park, and Northanger Abbey. Her biting social commentary and masterful use of both free indirect discourse and irony eventually made Austen one of the most influential and honored novelists in English Literature.

Biography

In 1801, George Austen retired from the clergy, and Jane, Cassandra, and their parents took up residence in Bath, a fashionable town Jane liked far less than her native village. Jane seems to have written little during this period. When Mr. Austen died in 1805, the three women, Mrs. Austen and her daughters, moved first to Southampton and then, partly subsidized by Jane's brothers, occupied a house in Chawton, a village not unlike Jane's first home. There she began to work on writing and pursued publishing once more, leading to the anonymous publication of Sense and Sensibility in 1811 and Pride and Prejudice in 1813, to modestly good reviews.

Known for her cheerful, modest, and witty character, Jane Austen had a busy family and social life, but as far as we know very little direct romantic experience. There were early flirtations, a quickly retracted agreement to marry the wealthy brother of a friend, and a rumored short-lived attachment -- while she was traveling -- that has not been verified. Her last years were quiet and devoted to family, friends, and writing her final novels. In 1817 she had to interrupt work on her last and unfinished novel, Sanditon, because she fell ill. She died on July 18, 1817, in Winchester, where she had been taken for medical treatment. After her death, her novels Northanger Abbey and Persuasion were published, together with a biographical notice, due to the efforts of her brother Henry. Austen is buried in Winchester Cathedral.

Author biography courtesy of Barnes & Noble Books.

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    1. Date of Birth:
      December 16, 1775
    2. Place of Birth:
      Village of Steventon in Hampshire, England
    1. Date of Death:
      July 18, 1817
    2. Place of Death:
      Winchester, Hampshire, England
    1. Education:
      Taught at home by her father

Read an Excerpt

Chapter I

The family of Dashwood had long been settled in Sussex. Their estate was large, and their residence was at Norland Park, in the centre of their property, where, for many generations, they had lived in so respectable a manner, as to engage the general good opinion of their surrounding acquaintance. The last owner but one of this estate, was a single man, who lived to a very advanced age, and who, for many years of his life, had a constant companion and housekeeper in his sister. But her death, which happened ten years before his own, produced a great alteration in his home; for, to supply her loss, he invited and received into his house the family of his nephew Mr. Henry Dashwood, the legal inheritor of the Norland estate, and the person to whom he intended to bequeath it. In the society of his nephew and niece, and their children, the old Gentleman's days were comfortably spent. His attachment to them all increased. The constant attention of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Dashwood to his wishes, which proceeded not merely from interest, but from goodness of heart, gave him every degree of solid comfort which his age could receive; and the cheerfulness of the children added a relish to his existence.

By a former marriage, Mr. Henry Dashwood had one son: by his present lady, three daughters. The son, a steady respectable young man, was amply provided for by the fortune of his mother, which had been large, and half of which devolved on him on his coming of age. By his own marriage, likewise, which happened soon afterwards, he added to his wealth. To him, therefore, the succession to the Norland estate was not so really important as to his sisters; for their fortune, independent of what might arise to them from their father's inheriting that property, could be but small. Their mother had nothing, and their father only seven thousand pounds in his own disposal; for the remaining moiety of his first wife's fortune was also secured to her child, and he had only a life interest in it.

The old Gentleman died: his will was read, and like almost every other will, gave as much disappointment as pleasure. He was neither so unjust, nor so ungrateful, as to leave his estate from his nephew;—but he left it to him on such terms as destroyed half the value of the bequest. Mr. Dashwood had wished for it more for the sake of his wife and daughters than for himself or his son;—but to his son, and his son's son, a child of four years old, it was secured, in such a way, as to leave to himself no power of providing for those who were most dear to him, and who most needed a provision by any charge on the estate, or by any sale of its valuable woods. The whole was tied up for the benefit of this child, who, in occasional visits with his father and mother at Norland, had so far gained on the affections of his uncle, by such attractions as are by no means unusual in children of two or three years old; an imperfect articulation, an earnest desire of having his own way, many cunning tricks, and a great deal of noise, as to outweigh all the value of all the attention which, for years, he had received from his niece and her daughters. He meant not to be unkind, however, and, as a mark of his affection for the three girls, he left them a thousand pounds a-piece.

Mr. Dashwood's disappointment was, at first, severe; but his temper was cheerful and sanguine; and he might reasonably hope to live many years, and by living economically, lay by a considerable sum from the produce of an estate already large, and capable of almost immediate improvement. But the fortune, which had been so tardy in coming, was his only one twelvemonth. He survived his uncle no longer; and ten thousand pounds, including the late legacies, was all that remained for his widow and daughters.

His son was sent for as soon as his danger was known, and to him Mr. Dashwood recommended, with all the strength and urgency which illness could command, the interest of his mother-in-law and sisters.

Mr. John Dashwood had not the strong feelings of the rest of the family; but he was affected by a recommendation of such a nature at such a time, and he promised to do every thing in his power to make them comfortable. His father was rendered easy by such an assurance, and Mr. John Dashwood had then leisure to consider how much there might prudently be in his power to do for them.

He was not an ill-disposed young man, unless to be rather cold hearted and rather selfish is to be ill-disposed: but he was, in general, well respected; for he conducted himself with propriety in the discharge of his ordinary duties. Had he married a more amiable woman, he might have been made still more respectable than he was:—he might even have been made amiable himself; for he was very young when he married, and very fond of his wife. But Mrs. John Dashwood was a strong caricature of himself;— more narrow-minded and selfish.

When he gave his promise to his father, he meditated within himself to increase the fortunes of his sisters by the present of a thousand pounds a-piece. He then really thought himself equal to it. The prospect of four thousand a-year, in addition to his present income, besides the remaining half of his own mother's fortune, warmed his heart, and made him feel capable of generosity.— "Yes, he would give them three thousand pounds: it would be liberal and handsome! It would be enough to make them completely easy. Three thousand pounds! he could spare so considerable a sum with little inconvenience."— He thought of it all day long, and for many days successively, and he did not repent.

No sooner was his father's funeral over, than Mrs. John Dashwood, without sending any notice of her intention to her mother-in-law, arrived with her child and their attendants. No one could dispute her right to come; the house was her husband's from the moment of his father's decease; but the indelicacy of her conduct was so much the greater, and to a woman in Mrs. Dashwood's situation, with only common feelings, must have been highly unpleasing;— but in her mind there was a sense of honor so keen, a generosity so romantic, that any offence of the kind, by whomsoever given or received, was to her a source of immoveable disgust. Mrs. John Dashwood had never been a favourite with any of her husband's family; but she had had no opportunity, till the present, of shewing them with how little attention to the comfort of other people she could act when occasion required it.

So acutely did Mrs. Dashwood feel this ungracious behaviour, and so earnestly did she despise her daughter-in-law for it, that, on the arrival of the latter, she would have quitted the house for ever, had not the entreaty of her eldest girl induced her first to reflect on the propriety of going, and her own tender love for all her three children determined her afterwards to stay, and for their sakes avoid a breach with their brother.

Elinor, this eldest daughter whose advice was so effectual, possessed a strength of understanding, and coolness of judgment, which qualified her, though only nineteen, to be the counsellor of her mother, and enabled her frequently to counteract, to the advantage of them all, that eagerness of mind in Mrs. Dashwood which must generally have led to imprudence. She had an excellent heart;—her disposition was affectionate, and her feelings were strong; but she knew how to govern them: it was a knowledge which her mother had yet to learn; and which one of her sisters had resolved never to be taught.

Marianne's abilities were, in many respects, quite equal to Elinor's. She was sensible and clever; but eager in everything; her sorrows, her joys, could have no moderation. She was generous, amiable, interesting: she was everything but prudent. The resemblance between her and her mother was strikingly great.

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 every proper attention; and could strive to rouse her mother to similar exertion, and encourage her to similar forbearance.

Margaret, the other sister, was a good-humored well-disposed girl; but as she had already imbibed a good deal of Marianne's romance, without having much of her sense, she did not, at thirteen, bid fair to equal her sisters at a more advanced period of life.

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Table of Contents

Introduction vii
Chronology xii
Sense and Sensibility 1
About the Editor 373
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Reading Group Guide

1. Sense and Sensibility begins with a short history of Norland Park, the Dashwood family's estate. We learn that the late owner has bequeathed the property to his nephew, Henry Dashwood, since he himself was unmarried and without children. Describe Henry Dashwood's family. Who are its members? What is the dilemma that Henry's wife and daughters encounter upon his death?

2. The novel tells the story of two sisters who at first appear to be more different than similar. Elinor, the older sister, is governed by her good sense, whereas Marianne, the younger and less experienced sister, is ruled by a romantic sensibility. Compare the personalities of the two sisters further. To what do you attribute these differences? Are their personalities fixed, or do they change over the course of the novel?

3. In Chapter 13, Elinor is shocked to learn that Marianne allowed Willoughby to show her his house without a chaperon. Marianne defends her action by saying, "If there had been any real impropriety in what I did, I should have been sensible of it at the time, for we always know when we are acting wrong." Is this a valid defense? Does the novel, in the end, support or reject Marianne's notion of propriety?

4. Claire Tomalin has argued that Sense and Sensibility acts out a debate about behavior, in which Elinor represents discretion and privacy and Marianne represents emotional openness. Which side do you think wins this debate? Do you think the novel's attempts to resolve this debate are successful? Why or why not?

5. Over the course of the novel, both Elinor and Marianne experience romantic reversals: Elinor when she discovers Edward Ferrarsis engaged to Lucy Steele, and Marianne when she discovers Willoughby is to marry Miss Grey. What do these experiences teach Elinor and Marianne? Compare the reactions of each.

6. Sense and Sensibility presents a host of memorable minor characters, such as Mrs. Jennings, Mrs. Ferrars, and Mrs. John Dashwood. Discuss the role minor characters play in the novel. What issues or ideas do they help illuminate for the protagonists?

7. In Chapter 17, Elinor says the following with regard to the notion of character: "I have frequently detected myself in such kind of mistakes . . . in a total misapprehension of character in some points or other; fancying other people so much more gay or grave, or ingenious or stupid than they really are, and I can hardly tell why, or in what the deception originated. Sometimes one is guided by what they say of themselves, and very frequently by what others say of them, without giving oneself time to deliberate and judge." Discuss the theme of character in Sense and Sensibility. What does Elinor mean when she uses the word "character"? What, according to her, are good and bad judges of character? Does she follow her own advice? Which sort of character does the novel value?

8. Discuss the character of Lucy Steele. How would you describe her? What does she risk in telling Elinor of her engagement to Edward Ferrars? Does this seem shrewd or foolish to you?

9. At several points in the story, the characters discuss the value of "second attachments." For instance, in Chapter 17, Marianne makes plain that she does not believe a person can be in love more than once in his or her life. She says further, "At my time of life, opinions are tolerably fixed. It is not likely that I should see or hear anything to change them." Discuss the irony implicit in Marianne's statement. Does the novel itself share her views? Which characters come to have second attachments?

10. Discuss the character of Willoughby. How is he punished for his decision to marry for money, in a way that someone like Lucy Steele is not? Why might this be the case?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 601 )
Rating Distribution

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(306)

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(161)

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2 Star

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 731 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 6, 2006

    Sense and Sensibility

    In Jane Austen¿s Sense and Sensibility, the classic tale of love and its consequences is told through the lives of the young and beautiful Dashwood sisters. Marianne, an imprudent and impulsive young lady, immediately falls in love with the handsome, yet unpredictable Mr. Willoughby, scandalously displaying her affection for him. Elinor, although always reserved and collected, also falls in love, but unlike her sister, keeps her affection for her admirer concealed even from those she dearly loves. Through the opposite characterization of the two main characters, Austen criticizes the folly of not leading a balanced lifestyle, whether it is cold and distant or spontaneous and brash. The novel also depicts the troubles caused by love in a society where wealth and social standing are top priorities. Through a variety of characters ranging from a frantic, gluttonous sister, to a humble and kind colonel, Austen condemns the social institutions of her time that encouraged the priority of wealth and status when forming an opinion of a person. Throughout the novel, readers are hooked, held in suspense as they eagerly await to discover the results of the Dashwoods¿ adventures with love. Humorous, heartbreaking, and humbling, Austen combines lessons of life, love, and society defining Sense and Sensibility as a classic.

    15 out of 19 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 26, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Great Read!

    I really love all of Jane Austen's books but Sense and Sensibility is one of my favorites! It is an endearing story of two sisters who finally get their true happiness! If only this happened in real life! If you love the book you will also love the DVD made by BBC Video and shown on Masterpiece Theatre.

    11 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 3, 2008

    Lovely

    You can't go wrong with Austen but Sense and Sensibility is not nearly as romantic as Pride and Prejudice.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 26, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Sense and Sensibility

    This is the 2nd book that I have read from the B&N Classic list, but the first Jane Austin book. Some people have told me that her writing style is difficult to read, but I found that I had no problems. It is a classic tale of love and pain. I find it surreal that people fall in love so quickely! Or maybe the book doesn't give an accurate interpretation of the timeline. It is neither hear nor there, I actually enjoyed the first Austin novel and looking forward to the next one on the B&N list. I am curious to find out if all of her novels are about the trials of love or is there a surprise in store for me?!?!? I am a firm believer in the classics always being a perk in any book club, but reality is that I believe this is a wonderful book for a raining day, curl up with a warm blanket and a cup of hot cocoa:)
    Stay tuned for my next book review from the classic list: The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 11, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Great Story

    This is a great book. It illustrates two types of women that are still very prominent in society today. I like the fact that it showed more than one side to everyone's personality. Great rainy day read.

    5 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 16, 2010

    Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austin

    SENSE AND SENSIBILITY by Jane Austin is a Historical classic. It is a true classic love story. The Insight Edition has relevant information about England, their customs and Jane Austin's life during the Regency era. It has likable characters, romance, and family. If you enjoy Jane Austin this is a must read. It is one of the all classic books.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Love it

    When I first started this book, I was a bit confused, but as I read on I fell in love with the time and setting of the novel. You really fall in love with the characters and get a sense of what marriage and especially money meant in that time and how they where related to one another.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 22, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Charming...

    A charming edition to anyone's Austen library, this story contains wit and stimulating plot that leaves you fascinated with the misshaps and joys of Austen's characters. A must-read!

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 19, 2008

    Wonderful

    This novel was fantastic. Jane Austen is an amazing author, and this is a great book! Everyone should read it!

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 27, 2006

    Sense and Sensibility

    This was not one of Jane Austen's best works. It was fairly enjoyable, but the other novels were so much better. The story was very slow. The best parts were the last few chapters. I did like how Elinor became more passionate, and Marianne became more sensible. The love story was very good, but hardly worth the tedious pages.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 4, 2013

    For Those Who Enjoy Reading About Everyday Social Situations

    Sense and Sensibility was the first book I was forced to read as a young person. At the time, I hated it. I could not understand what people saw in Jane Austen. I read twenty-two chapters before I quit, and to my mind at the time, NOTHING happened. There were no murders, no life-altering circumstances, nothing dramatic. Jane Austen pretty much depicted the petty squabbles, jealousies, and annoyances of backward people. It wasn't really a romance, and yet the whole story seemed to be supported on the disappointments and triumphs in love of the two major characters.

    Many years later, I have read it--and managed to finish it. I can't believe that I was able to pick up and appreciate the social commentary that I failed to appreciate as a teenager. Though I think Pride and Prejudice is better, Sense and Sensibility has its merits. The characters are well-developed, and some are sympathetic--like Colonel Brandon.

    However, I do think this is a book that requires a person to reach a certain stage in their life where they can appreciate "people watching." It probably helps if the characters remind you of people that you know or situations you have experienced. Having been disappointed in love myself, I was able to relate to Marianne more than I could as an inexperienced teenager.

    Of course, sometimes knowing people who remind you of the characters can be a drawback if you really hate the people. However, I would say it is a definite MUST, to appreciate Jane Austen, that you be content with a book that deals with social commentary and doesn't require action or dramatic events. If you need a helicopter crash, an explosion, or someone being brutally murdered to get you through a book...then Jane Austen is definitely not for you.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2013

    Bad

    Do not like at all

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 14, 2012

    Liars

    The people who claim to like this book have probably never read it. They assume that watching a Jane Austen movie is the same as "reading" Austen. Pride and Prejudice is a long, boring book about nothing. You'd be better off to rent the DVD because the book can easily put an insomniac into a coma.

    1 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 24, 2012

    Boring

    This is super boring. Women will like it, but Men will not.

    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 14, 2011

    Poorly rendered

    With so many grammatical errors, it almost seems purposeful in an effort to force readers to buy it! But .99 for her entire works is worth the price. Save yourself the headache and pass this mess by.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 25, 2011

    This book was very poorly transfered into a text format. It makes teading extremely dificult.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 4, 2011

    Do not download this one

    The text is very badly scanned. There are plenty of typos and errors. Impossible to read. :(

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 5, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    The BEST of Jane Austen!!

    Sense and Sensibility was written superbly well. The story is rich in details and surprises. Its dramatic, exciting, and most of all hopeful. The characters have real meaning and integrity. This book is for the hopeless romantic. My favorite of the Jane Austen novels. I would highly recommend this read for book clubs because there are many conflicts and twists that make great discussions.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2000

    What a writer!

    Great story, great audiobook. Kate Winselt did a tremendous reading. Gets better everytime I listen to it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2013

    Recommended

    I enjoyed this book, even though it was a slower book for me to get through. The wording and sentence structure was a bit more challenging than your modern read. However, I would definitely recommend this book as one of the classics that should be on your list.

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