Like so many girls, I decided to read Sense and Sensibility after reading (and loving) Pride and Prejudice.
Unfortunately, the first time I read it, Sense and Sensibility felt like a bucket of cold water.
Sense and sensibility's sad tones and tricky situations took me by surprise. And don't get me started on the male characters. Willoughby, Edward and Col. Brandon are complex and troubled - not your average romantic-comedy hero as well.
But after a second reading I began appreciating the book more. You just can't go into it expecting a light hearted commedy. For that, go to Emma.
The title relates to the two main sisters, Marianne and Elinor, who have quite opposite dispositions. Marianne is extremely sentimental and romantic while Elinor is more rational and introspective.
Both of them will have to struggle to find love and happiness.
Something unique about Sense and Sensibility is how well the characters are constructed. Notice how we don’t actually hate the antagonists. I, for one, felt sympathy towards Lucy, Elinor’s rival. Lucy seems to be just like Elinor: a girl trying to figure out how she can successfully marry the love of her life.
The characters have this perfect mixture of flaw and virtue. At every scene we wonder who's being smart, Elinor or Marianne. Many times we can't help but to understand them and be on their sides, even when they sabotage themselves.
This is probably what makes the novel less entertaining, but also more complex and demanding.than Pride and Prejudice
Every Jane Austen novel is a lesson in relationships. But be prepared for a difficult lesson with Sense and Sensibility. In theory, we should balance both sides (sense and sensibility). Now, If the ending backs this up, if the ending is really a happy one, is up to the reader to decide.*
What do you think about Sense and Sensibility? How does it compare to other Jane Austen novels?
Images from FanPop. These are from a great movie adaptation with Emma Thompson and a young Kate Winslet. I recommend reading the book first before watching it, though. The movie focuses too much on the two sisters and doesn’t develop the motives of Col. Brandon, for instance, and even redeems Edward’s faults.
* You didn't ask me, but I'll tell you anyhow: I'm not sure how happy the ending is. But then again I hate that Willoughby. Every time I read his name I hear “will it be?”. Perhaps I'm a little Sensibility myself.
(This is the 3rd book in my Classics Club Challenge. Click here for the full list with the other books in this challenge, plus their reviews.)