At first, I didn’t love Sense and Sensibility. The characters felt like flat stereotypes. The elder sister, Elinor Dashwood, was full of sense and Marianne (and her mother) was flighty and emotional (the “sensibility” of the title). These two acted in the extremes of their stereotypes, and I didn’t feel drawn in to the story. I felt a little disappointed in Jane Austen, since Pride and Prejudice is one of my favorite novels.
But it grew on me. The main reason is Elinor Dashwood. Although she is stereotypically serious and sensible, she also was realistic enough that I felt for her frustrations. Although the title captures the two personalities of the sisters, this is a novel about Elinor. Even as she comforts Marianne through her emotional upheavals, Elinor is strong in dealing with her own disappointments and doesn’t break down and whine. I really admired that.
Marianne, I’m sorry to say, really irritated me. I found her to be very similar to Lydia Bennett (flighty and stupid), except Marriane’s end turned out okay because she didn’t actually run off with her lover (whew). Yet, I see people around the blogosphere with “I’m Marianne Dashwood” badges on their sites, so that makes me think I’m supposed to like this girl, and that she is supposed to be a heroine. Hmmm. I think I may be in the minority on disliking her.
*spoilers* I also detested Willoughby. With such a lovely name, I really thought he was going to be a good guy. In my mind, his “apology” was too little, too late, and really pointless. I don’t think it made up for anything he did. He married for money, and that made him shallow and heartless, considering how much he says he cared for Marianne. In any event, I found Marianne’s courtship with Colonel Brandon to be entirely undeveloped, but that was okay. For me, this novel was about Elinor, and I loved how her story resolved. *end spoilers*
I also watched the 2008 BBC adaptation of Sense and Sensibility this week. Some aspects had been changed (in particular, Marianne took a much larger role), but overall, it was a delightful few hours. The 1995 version is next in my Netflix queue.
As I mentioned yesterday, I read this book too fast. It was satisfying but then it ended! And I was sad! I watched the movie, and I still wanted to read more Jane Austen. I guess this is why I have to space these out every few months. I want some more Jane Austen to look forward too!
Who did you like better: Marianne or Elinor?