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Sense and Sensibility

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-----------------------------------------------------15th January 2007, 04:29 PM

 

Momo

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Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen - 1811

 

Elinor and Marianne Dashwood are sisters with opposite temperaments. Elinor is 19, the elder daughter, and represents the "sense" (reason) of the title. Marianne is three years younger and represents "sensibility" (emotion).

Elinor and Marianne are the daughters of Mr. Dashwood by his second wife. They also have a younger sister, Margaret, and an older half-brother named John. When their father dies, the family estate passes to John and the Dashwood women are left impoverished. Fortunately, a distant relative offers to rent the women a cottage on his property.

The novel follows the Dashwood sisters to their new home, where they experience both romance and heartbreak. The contrast between the sisters' characters is eventually resolved as they each find love and lasting happiness.

 

I cannot believe there is no thread here - with so many Austen fans!

I loved this novel, as I love all of Jane Austen's books. What it makes so remarkable and still interesting today is the description of the different sisters and how they cope with the problems society puts them through.

People still are more an Elinor or a Marianne, sometimes you have to be one or the other, sometimes you can be both.

A great book! Read it! And discuss it here.

 

----------------------------------------------------17th January 2007, 09:48 AM

 

Red Fox

Member

 

I have read Sense and Sensibility a couple of times, and am quite disconcerted now to realise that when I think back on it, I'm actually thinking of the Emma Thompson film rather than the book. Maybe I should read it again, just to be sure

 

Having said that, I have always enjoyed the book and I love the story. I am more of an Elinor than a Marianne myself and that's fine by me, as she definitely gets the better ending! The ending of the book I thought a little disappointing, almost hurried and wished there was more detail.

 

I read somewhere (possibly in the synopsis in The Jane Austen Book Club) that Marianne

 

 

marries Colonel Brandon, the boring man that her mother and Elinor have picked out for her. This seemed harsh at the time, but actually I think Karen Joy Fowler has a point. Marianne loved Willoughby, who was wild and dashing. Would she honestly have been happy with the Colonel? I think she was on the rebound, had been ill and did what she thought was for the best, rather than following her heart.

 

 

----------------------------------------------------17th January 2007, 03:53 PM

 

Momo

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I have read Sense and Sensibility a couple of times, and am quite disconcerted now to realise that when I think back on it, I'm actually thinking of the Emma Thompson film rather than the book. Maybe I should read it again, just to be sure

 

I think that happens to a lot of us. It is just so much quicker to watch a movie than re-reading a book and if you love the story ...

Anyway, I quite agree with your point.

 

 

After all, nobody tells us that Colonel Brandon looked like Alan Rickman. That's often difficult to do, once you have seen a certain character in a film, you imagine that person a certain way, even if he/she was described differently in the book - and even if you read the book first.

 

 

----------------------------------------------------17th January 2007, 05:29 PM

 

minxminnie

Subscriber

 

My favourite character in this novel is Mr Palmer. I love his dry wit and barely concealed disgust for his wittering wife. Hugh Laurie was fantastic casting in the film - an early rehearsal for the part of House MD!

My favourite line from my recent viewing of the film version:

Mrs P :"Oh no! It can't be five miles! I can't believe it is five miles!!"

Mr P : "Try."

 

----------------------------------------------------17th January 2007, 07:49 PM

 

Momo

Subscriber and Permanent Resident

 

 

My favourite line from my recent viewing of the film version:

Mrs P :"Oh no! It can't be five miles! I can't believe it is five miles!!"

Mr P : "Try."

 

Oh, yes! I loooove that. And his look when she crumbles his newspaper! I think if the whole movie was rubbish, it would still be worth it for those scenes. (I think Imelda Staunton as his wife is great, too.)

 

----------------------------------------------------18th January 2007, 04:06 PM

 

Red Fox

Member

 

I think Jane Austen excelled that those dippy characters, like Mrs Palmer, Mrs Bennett, Mr Collins, Miss Bates.

 

----------------------------------------------------20th January 2007, 05:03 PM

 

Amanda Grange

Subscriber

 

The second attachment theme is interesting in S&S. Of the four main characters, only Elinor ends up with her first choice. The others end up with - and are happy to end up with - their second attachments. Ironically, Elinor is the character who expressly says that she believes second attachments can be happy.

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But Col. Brandon wasn't chosen by her sister and mother. Marianne began to see the steadfast goodness in him. He also happened to be quite different from Willoughby.

 

This mature Marianne, who has learnt her lesson to not be too 'sensible' learns to guide it and channel it in the right direction, which incidentally led to Col. Brandon. :D

 

This 'sensibility' seemed to have been in fashion at that time. The description of the scenery/landscape, and this expression of ones feelings etc. were very much in vogue. I think JA was trying to say that it brought no good to be like this, and that it was better to let 'sense' guide ones 'sensibility', and not be led by it.

 

The reason why the ending seems so abrupt is only if one looks at it from the romantic point of view.

 

But when looking at it from what she was trying to say; the mission was accomplished, and *that* was definitely not in any abrupt manner.

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Thanks for reviving this, Krey. I am getting through my list but not as fast. So, this is a great help!
This remark was because Krey had found the thread when it was lost. I love any of Jane Austen's books and have read this a couple of times.

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I love this book, and am currently very much enjoying rereading it. I like all of Jane Austen's books - it's a tough call between this one and Persuasion as to which is my favourite.

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While the various cinema and television dramatisations of her books have deservedly contributed to making Jane Austen known and loved beyond the study of her writing in the classroom, it would be a shame to settle for the adaptations and never read those exquisitely written novels.

 

I recently reread Sense and Sensibility and once again marvelled at the absolute masterliness of Jane Austen's depiction of human feelings, hesitations and dilemmas. Young ladies in 2005 may not make their emotional choices in the same way as Elinor and Marianne Dashwood had to do two hundred years ago, but few contemporary writers show the complexity of emotional relationships with the same precision and insight as Jane Austen. Then as now, the most irresistible men on the surface turn out, like Willougby, to be the most unsuitable ones when you get to know them (which of course doesn't make them any less irresistible...); then as now, parents (Mrs Frears) tend to be domineering and unbearable, and yet a part of the equation to be reckoned with; then as now, it may be a good idea to realise that people are very often less predictable than they at first seemed...

 

But then - and very often not now... - there is the way Jane Austen plotted it all out and honed her sentences like chisels, so that the novel begs to be read aloud. As of course it would have been once. For those who never have, time to switch off the TV and launch into Jane Austen. Start with this one; take sides with Marianne and with Elinor, marvel at how comic characters like jovial Mrs Jennings and bimbo-ish, semi-literate Lucy Steele remind you of people still very much at large today. Then, if for some reason you so far haven't, treat yourself to the even more wonderful Pride and Prejudice. And then all the others. And bemoan the fact there are only six of them (plus a couple of fragments).

 

And then start all over again.

Truly magnificent.

 

*****

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Yes, this is one of my favourite Austens and I would have to agree with what Austenreader says about JA's mission in the novel. I think she accomplishes it beautifully. I also think that she's suggesting as well that sense is good, but it's good to show your feelings some of the time. Elinor and Marianne learn from each other and each adopts a little of the other's traits.

 

Incidentally, the film of this with Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman and Kate Winslet is one of the best dramatisations of any novel I've ever seen. To fit this book into two hours and keep so much of the detail is an amazing achievement, so well done to Emma for managing it.

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[...] the film of this with Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman and Kate Winslet is one of the best dramatisations of any novel I've ever seen.

Seconded. She made a brilliant job of both the screeplay and the rôle she played (Elinor).

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It is a brilliant movie, one of my top feel good flicks. Emma Thompson did an amazing job with it, and Kate Winslet was just lovely, and Alan Rickman played Colonel Brandon in such a way that for the first time I actually understood what Marianne might see in him (in reading the book, too often I had the feeling that she was settling for second best, but after seeing the film I read it again and realised how she and Brandon fit together so perfectly because they have both been heartbroken and recovered.)

 

Sometimes I wonder about similarities between Willoughby and Wickham from Pride and Prejudice, in the way they treat women and in their names, and wonder if they might both have been modelled on someone Jane Austen knew.

 

Sense and Sensibility is one of my favourite Austens as well. As a writer she would have had so much more freedom with it because of a lack of the expectations that come with second and subsequent novels. I imagine she really enjoyed writing it.

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I always thought Brandon and Marianne fit together, but the film does make it more pronounced, and that moment in the garden towards the end (when he's reading to her) is so lovely. I watch the film just for that sometimes!

 

Kim, I'm sure they were modelled on someone Jane knew. I wouldn't put it past her!

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I just want to agree with what others have said about the wonderful job Emma Thompson did with the screenplay. It's well nigh flawless.

 

I love the scene where Edward reveals that he hasn't in fact married Lucy and Elinor tries to hold herself together but can't help but give those great racking sobs. I think it brings out the terrible strain she's been living under for so long, and we realise just what it's cost her to be the support of her whole family.

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Elinor tries to hold herself together but can't help but give those great racking sobs.

Yes, this is the single scene that stands out in my memory.

(Why do people sneer and snicker at Emma Thompson? She's so talented.)

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I always thought Brandon and Marianne fit together, but the film does make it more pronounced....
Especially with Alan Rickman in that role! ;)

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I really liked Alan Rickman in the role but I really can't see it as a casting choice Jane Austen would have understood. Do you think she ever would have pictured Colonel Brandon as sexy??

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Why not? Jane Austen didn't live in a prissy era and she was also a realist as well as a romantic. I'm sure she knew, even if she didn't spell it out, that a girl jam-packed with sensibility like Marianne would have needed a bit more than gratitude and respect to make a marriage to an older man truly sucessful, in fact it never occured to me when reading, and rereading the book, that Marianne hadn't come to realise that she found Colonel Brandon sexually attractive. Now we know he looked like Alan Rickman I'm not surprised.

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Well said, Viccie.

 

(Why do people sneer and snicker at Emma Thompson? She's so talented.)

Do they? I suppose these are the people who think Paris Hilton can act. In which case, I wouldn't think much of their opinion. Emma's brilliant, and what she did with S&S proves it.

 

Isn't the BBC making a new adaptation of this? Anybody know when we can expect to see it?

 

And welcome back Momo!

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Do they? I suppose these are the people who think Paris Hilton can act. In which case, I wouldn't think much of their opinion. Emma's brilliant, and what she did with S&S proves it.

 

 

I don't think its the Hilton thing - it's more a class thing I think. Emma appears rather as a pony-show, middle-class, smug-luvvie. Nothing riles the less discerning public more. I rather like her actually. I think Branagh, Bonham-Carter and their ilk suffer the same sort of derision.

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Emma appears rather as a pony-show, middle-class, smug-luvvie.

 

Yes, Hazel, that's what I meant... the word "luvvie" came to my mind before I read it in your post.

I have great admiration for both her and Branagh; they'd be great fun to spend an evening with, I'm sure (well, maybe, not both at once now that they're no longer an item)

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Have just found this charming little anecdote about the Ang Lee adaptation (on imdb.com):

Emma Thompson has recounted how during the scene where Colonel Brandon, on horseback, approaches Elinor and Marianne in the out-of-doors, many takes were ruined by the horse surrendering to a bout of flatulence. Eventually, they were forced to shoot the scene with the farting horse as the flatulence would not abate, and the rather loud reports later were edited out of the soundtrack.

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I've re-read this because I'm using it in my thesis. It had been ages since I'd read it and I made some new discoveries about it.

 

Brandon is actually more passionate than I remembered. His feelings for Marianne are evident right through the book and it's clear that he has no small share in her feelings of sensibility. He comes out with things on occasion that he has to stop himself from saying. If Austen had let him speak a little more, we might have preferred him to Willoughby from the beginning. Brandon is way more honest about what he feels. There's a great deal of passion beneath that grave facade!

 

Also, Lucy's cattiness to Elinor was more pronounced for me this time, as was Mrs Jennings' humour.

 

The ending is ambiguous. Austen's language doesn't clearly say that Marianne fell hopelessly in love with Brandon and that's what romantics want to read. She writes about a 'confederacy' against her and makes it seem as though she''s been pressured into marriage, but at the same time, she says that she 'voluntarily' gave her hand to the colonel and that her heart became devoted to him in time. I think it's realistic rather than romantic, but I still like it because Marianne gets to move on, while Willoughby loses out and always regrets her.

 

Kim, I'm sure they were modelled on someone Jane knew. I wouldn't put it past her!

I read some research that said Willoughby and Wickham might have been modeled on the Prince Regent.

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I liked your post, FLS. One of the things that I like about re-reading Austen in particular is the way that my perceptions of the characters and relationships change every time!

 

It's probably time I re-read S&S. I remember wondering what Marianne saw in Brandon - maybe I'd get it this time.

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It's probably time I re-read S&S. I remember wondering what Marianne saw in Brandon - maybe I'd get it this time.
I always read it as Marianne looking for a father figure - someone who would look after her after the disastrous affair with Willoughby. Then I saw the film version with Alan Rickman as Colonel Brandon and for the first time I thought - maybe Marianne fancies him because he's just, like, dead sexy ;)

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I've read this a couple of times and seen more than a few film and TV adaptations. I find that I have some (not a lot of) sympathy for Willoughby. Not for his treatment of Marrianne or the way he avoided dealing with the situation but rather the pressure he must have been under to find a suitable match or to secure his financial future. In those times the "romantic" notion of marrying for love and giving up an inheritance was just that; romantic and was not the reality.

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