Book Report of “Sense and Sensibility”
Sense and Sensibility is a novel written by the English novelist Jane Austen, published in 1811 in London by Thomas Egerton of the Military Library publishing house. It was the first published novel of Austen’s under the pseudonym “A Lady’.
The author Jane Austen (1775-1817) is the English novelist universally renowned by her vivid description of daily life in provincial English middle class. In her novels, there are no drastic social alterations but the calm trivial environment that country clergymen and ladies lived in. Especially her female characters which from various economic statues struggle to pursue the equality and freedom of marriage. Sense and Sensibility is divided into three parts covering 50 chapters. It is the story about two sisters, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood, who get sharp individual differences between them. Just like the title of this book, the elder sister Elinor is the representative of Sense while Marianne, the younger one occupies the other part. Through the ironic and humorous language ,Austen shows her attitude towards love by narrating the love destiny the two sisters encountered—love should be controlled
The main characters Austen portrayed impress me hugely. Elinor Dashwood is the sensible and reserved daughter of Mr. Henry Dashwood. She becomes attached to Edward Ferras,but subdues her love and pain after getting known that Lucy has secretly engaged with him. She has high sense of responsibility to her lover, families and friends. Elinor is exact the most appreciative one done by Austen. Another heroine, Marianne Dashwood is romantically inclined and wistfully expressive younger sister of Elinor. She is beautiful, charming, passionate and extremely talented in music. She was attracted to young, handsome Willoughby but quite indifferent to Colonel Brandon, the “old man” truly loves her in secret. At the
end of the story, after being betrayed by Willoughby, she learned that her sensibility had been selfish and got to know how to cherish the people loved her and subdue irrational passion.
Whole story happened in the last 18 century which the concept of social class had
largely affected, even controlled personal lives. In that society, women’s social statues
were decided by their marriages, because the law stipulated that the nobility of a family and the wealthy families’ estates shall be inherited by their eldest son.
Although the daughter could have a substantial dowry, the property must be handed over to their husband after marriage. For this reason, people had inclination to talk about who married who, who had plentiful money and who lost his right of inheritance in the story. Also how much of dowry a woman could possess affected her charm as a spouse, decided her future among families and her living condition as a widow.
Elinor and Marianne who have different personalities all constantly pursue the equality and respect of the public. They never subject to worldly discriminations, fight for true love with ration or courage. I love them both. Totally different with the two sisters the selfishness of Fanny and her husband John Dashwood disgusts me. Here is a plot amuses me much. Beside Mr. Henry Dashwood’s dying bed, John Dashwood
promised to help his step mother and three step sisters after inheriting his father’s
estates, Norland Park. At the beginning, John impressed by his merciful plan of giving 1000 pounds to each lady. However, three sisters and Mrs. Dashwood just obtain the few of living legacy which hardly sustained their life. His selfish snobbish wife, Fanny, let this comes true. Out of the bias to her unique son and coldness to her husband’s half-sisters and step mother, she seduced John to leave nothing to them. “Mrs. John Dashwood did not at all approve of what her husband intended to do his sisters. To take three thousand pounds from the fortune of their dear little boy would be leaving him desperately ruined in the future. She begged him to think again on the subject. And what possible claim the Miss Dashwoods, who were related to him only by half blood, which she considered as no relationship at all, have no his generosity to so large an amount.”(From chapter 2). Now, we get to know her cunning plan. She
definitely cleared about what her husband’s legacy essentially meant to her. She and
John did this not from muddling themselves but total selfishness. As to Fanny, money is important than everything. Because “that when the money is onced parted with, it
never can return.”
In spite of this plot, the story of Willoughby impresses me equally. When he first appeared, the author uses gorgeous language to praise him. A charming gentleman who saved Marianne as Prince saves Snow White. Reasonably, Marianne fell in love with him in a flashing moment. Some prudent readers would why Austen creates such a holy angel without any defect. Is he really like what Austen originally said? Going on my reading, I gradually catch author’s ironic device. Willoughby fancied to gossip
about Colonel Brandon in front of Marianne and her families like a woman, he never cared about the timing that he had fun with Marianne. Finally, he dumped Marianne to marry a rich girl after losing his right of inheritance and his shameful past exposed. In fact, he is a wild oats frivolity and a liar. What he did absolutely out of money and indulgence. Marianne used to be a innocent girl who reject the idea of second love. She suffered from the betrayal, nearly lost her life. The monstrous contrast between the first and last impression of Willoughby shocks me. Austen’s sarcasm teaches me a
lesson, when we handle with our feeling, sensibility and passion suppose to be subdued under rationality. Or, we will get hurt by Marianne adversity. How to find a balance between sense and sensibility when we cope with emotions is the theme of the novel. These two qualities are reciprocal. Only have sense without sensibility, then people are going to be a machine; while, only have sensibility without sense, then people stray away from regular path. Hence, the proper combination of two makes us find pleasant life. The happy ending, the author shows to us, tries to tell people the precious rule.