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Written by Jane Austen and published in 1811, Sense and Sensibility is one of her best-known novels, not least because of the 1995 Ang Lee film. It tells the story of two sisters, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood, who, on the death of their father, are forced to move (along with their mother and younger sister) into rather more straitened circumstances. The novel follows Elinor's quiet, restrained love affair with Edward Ferrars (her sister-in-law's brother who is expected to marry a rich woman) and Marianne's more overtly-romantic love triangle with the dashing Willoughby and the older, reliable Colonel Brandon.

The main theme of the novel is the contrast between reasonable Elinor's patience and sense of responsibility and Marianne's headstrong love of romance ("sensibility" in the language of the time), which often leads her into trouble.

The 1995 film cast Emma Thompson as Elinor and Kate Winslet as Marianne; a 2008 BBC Mini Series, which drew heavy inspiration from the film and is comparable in quality, cast Hattie Morahan as Elinor and Charity Wakefield as Marianne. The BBC also previously adapted the book into television miniseries in 1971 and 1981. There is also a Tamil-language Indian film based on the book and 1995 film, starring Aishwarya Rai and available in the US under the title I Have Found It. In 2010, Marvel Illustrated produced a Comic-Book Adaptation, script by Nancy Butler, art and covers by Sonny Liew.

In 2013 it was the first novel to be adapted by The Austen Project, in which various authors were contracted to write modern day Setting Updates of Austen's six books. The author was Joanna Trollope.


This novel provides examples of:

  • Accomplice by Inaction: John Dashwood does absolutely nothing when his wife hurts his sisters.
  • Age-Gap Algebra: Discussed a lot when Colonel Brandon falls in love with Marianne Dashwood. He is 35 and she is 17, and she generally thinks he's too old for any love or marriage. Her sister Elinor thinks that it is a significant gap, but says a woman of 27 and a man of 35 might be quite happy together. Near the end of the novel, Colonel is still very much in love with her, and the narrator says he had "little to do but to calculate the disproportion between thirty-six and seventeen".
  • Age-Gap Romance: Colonel Brandon, 35, falls in love with young Marianne Dashwood, 17. She thinks that he is extremely old, and barely considers him a family friend. When her mother starts supporting the relationship, she acknowledges the age difference, but thinks it might be a good thing that he's older and that his principles are steady and fixed. After being disappointed with her First Love, Marianne eventually marries him.
  • Alliterative Name: Lady Middleton, whose first name is Mary. (It's only mentioned once, by her mother.)
  • Annoying Younger Sibling:
    • Marianne is sometimes annoying to Elinor, especially as Marianne exaggerates everything, but Elinor has much more affection for Marianne than the trope implies.
    • Their youngest sister, Margaret, is rarely annoying — and indeed has so little presence in the story that her existence is often forgotten; she does, however, have one moment of fulfilling the trope. When Mrs. Jennings asks for information about Elinor's Love Interest, Margaret innocently obliges.
  • Arranged Marriage:
    • Edward is supposed to marry to Miss Morton — leave it to Jane Austen to make men victims of this trope. Miss Morton is a very wealthy daughter of a lord, and Edward's domineering mother wants him to marry her. Miss Morton is The Ghost and never actually appears in the story, so we never know what she thought of the match.
    • Colonel Brandon's "Eliza" was forced to marry his older brother. She was his orphaned cousin raised under the guardianship of Brandon's father, and very wealthy. The Brandon family estate was in debt, so they needed Eliza to marry the Colonel's eldest brother in order for her fortune to be used on the family estate. He didn't love her or deserve her.
  • Benevolent Boss: It's implied that the Dashwood women are regarded as this by their servants, since three of them immediately volunteer to accompany them into Devonshire; the narrative further remarks that when the women arrive safely at Barton Cottage, they are considerably cheered by how happy their servants are to see them.
  • Birds of a Feather: Marianne desires a relationship like this. She hopes to find a most superior man with whom she could share all her passions, like music, literature and poetry.
    Marianne:: Mama, the more I know of the world, the more am I convinced that I shall never see a man whom I can really love. I require so much! He must have all Edward's virtues, and his person and manners must ornament his goodness with every possible charm.
  • Brainless Beauty: Mrs. Jennings' daughters, Lady Middleton and Mrs. Palmer, are extremely pretty but show no inclination towards higher thought.
  • Childhood Marriage Promise: Edward and Lucy met when they were very young and got engaged. Edward tries to honour his promise, even though he fell out of love, but it ultimately falls apart. Lucy instead marries his younger brother (who has more money).
  • Cleaning Up Romantic Loose Ends: Disjoining Edward and Lucy so Edward and Elinor can be together, then pairing up Lucy with Edward's brother and Marianne with Brandon.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Miss Grey, Willoughby's rich new fiancée. After he and Marianne run into each other at a ball, she intercepts a letter from Marianne which confirms all of her suspicions, and orders him to write the cold breakup letter immediately - even going so far as to actually dictate it. (Of course, all this information comes from Willoughby explaining himself in an attempt to look better, so it should be taken with some salt.)
  • Comfort Food: Mrs. Jennings tries to treat Marianne's heartbreak by feeding her, but Marianne refuses almost everything. (She has more success with the wine, although Elinor claims it.)
  • Dances and Balls: Sir John is fond of throwing dancing parties at his country estate, but only one they attend in London is of great significance to the plot. There, the Dashwood sisters encounter Willoughby, who was previously avoiding them since their arrival in London. Willoughby's fiancée also sees Marianne and it's strongly implied she's jealous of Marianne's great beauty and because of rumours about Willoughby's involvement with her.
  • The Dandy: Robert Ferrars is depicted this way when he first appears, although Elinor doesn't know who he is at the moment. He spends a ridiculous amount of time fussing over a custom toothpick case, and when he looks at her and Marianne, she thinks that he seems to be expecting them to admire him rather than the other way around. He doesn't improve upon proper introduction.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Colonel Brandon. He confides it to Elinor, including the part about his childhood sweetheart, his childhood sweetheart's illegitimate daughter, and his childhood sweetheart's illegitimate daughter's seducer (who happens to be Willoughby). See? He had a point.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Mr. Palmer often provides sarcastic comments, mostly aimed at his ditzy wife or his vulgar mother-in-law, but at others as well.
      Mrs Jennings: You and I, Sir John, should not stand upon such ceremony.
      Mr Palmer: Then you would be very ill-bred.
      Mrs Palmer: [laughing] My love, you contradict every body. Do you know that you are quite rude?
      Mr Palmer: I did not know I contradicted any body in calling your mother ill-bred.
    • Elinor, although she mostly keeps her snarkiness to herself; she is too polite and too well-mannered to openly sneer at people.
      Robert Ferrars: For my own part, I am excessively fond of a cottage; there is always so much comfort, so much elegance about them. And I protest, if I had any money to spare, I should buy a little land and build one myself, within a short distance of London, where I might drive myself down at any time, and collect a few friends about me, and be happy. I advise every body who is going to build, to build a cottage. (...) Some people imagine that there can be no accommodations, no space in a cottage; but this is all a mistake. (...) So that, in fact, you see, if people do but know how to set about it, every comfort may be as well enjoyed in a cottage as in the most spacious dwelling.
      Narration: Elinor agreed to it all, for she did not think he deserved the compliment of rational opposition.
  • Did You Think I Can't Feel?: Elinor acts mostly reserved and she seems rather cold to her mother and sister who feel everything very deeply and feel they must show their emotions to everybody. Then Elinor reveals at the end what she had to go through (she loved a good man who loved her back, but promised to marry another one, who was not worthy of him) and that she had to suffer silently because of her promise.
    Elinor: If you can think me capable of ever feeling — surely you may suppose that I have suffered now.
  • Doting Parent:
    • Mrs. Dashwood is a very affectionate mother, to Marianne in particular. But she loves all of her daughters.
    • Lady Middleton dotes on all of her children, who are described as essentially her reason for existing. They are very spoiled.
  • Double In-Law Marriage: Half-siblings John and Elinor Dashwood to siblings Fanny and Edward Ferrars. They are not particularly close because one couple are selfish jerks (John and Fanny), the other are a pair of good, kind and reasonable people (Elinor and Edward).
  • The Dutiful Son: We are told that Elinor, despite her youth, often acts as a counselor to her mother. She also hides her disappointment about Edward's engagement from her family, to spare them any concern about her.
  • Elegant Classical Musician: Marianne is a talented pianist with very deep feelings for music, and her talent enchants both Colonel Brandon and Willoughby.
  • Emo Teen: Marianne gives into gloom and despair, replacing activities such as eating and sleeping with sobbing, after Willoughby leaves — not "leaves her," just leaves, as in just going away on business for an indefinite period of time. Needless to say, when he does officially leave her...
  • Emotionless Girl: Elinor. She's only nineteen, yet mature enough to control her emotions and not to showcase them, unlike her less rational mother and sister Marianne. After her father Mr. Dashwood dies, she's the most reliable member of the family and a great support to all if a problem arises. She's the kind of Emotionless Girl with a (now rather common) twist — she feels emotions, and rather deeply, too, but doesn't express them openly.
  • Emotions vs. Stoicism: Both themes are presented in the title and in the personalities of Marianne and Elinor. Elinor represents "sense," which then meant what it does now - having a good head on your shoulders and not letting your feelings carry you away. Marianne represents "sensibility", which meant more of a strength of feeling or something akin to Romanticism. Austen's sympathies are not clearly on either side; Marianne's strong sensibility is tested throughout the novel and her romantic, self-indulgent ways almost kill her, and she is eventually forced to learn to be more like her rational sister. Elinor, meanwhile, has to reconcile her private feelings and the way she acts, for example admitting her inner pain to her family.
  • Epistolary Novel: Early drafts were written in a letter form, under the title Elinor and Marianne.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: When Fanny Dashwood notices her mother, Mrs. Ferrars, sneering at Elinor's artwork, Fanny ventures to compliment it. Even the narrator states, "Perhaps Fanny thought for a moment that her mother had been quite rude enough."
  • Exact Words: Fanny convinces John to weasel out of his promise to his father by emphasizing that his father never asked him to do anything specific for his sisters, just to "help them". He soon considers helping them move the furniture to be a reasonable fulfillment of the promise, and is chagrined to find that he's not actually able to do it because all their things have to be sent by water.
  • Excessive Mourning: Mrs. Dashwood and Marianne keep their grief going in an incessant feedback loop at the beginning of the novel, bringing up keepsakes and memories in what seems a deliberate effort to keep their mourning raw and unchecked. This leaves the task of actually running the household and dealing with their loss of property to Elinor.
  • First-Name Basis: A big deal in Georgian times.
    • When Elinor overhears Willoughby calling Marianne by her Christian name, she takes it as a sign that they're either engaged or as good as.
    • It's noted in the narration that when the Steele sisters stay with the Dashwoods, Fanny calls Lucy by her Christian name as an indication of how attached she is to her.
  • Flat Character: Lady Middleton, deliberately. She's elegant and indulgent of her children, but other than that is basically devoid of a personality and is usually described as being incurious and insipid.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling:
    • Responsible Elinor and foolish Marianne, albeit one where the "foolish" daughter is portrayed fairly sympathetically. It's even reflected in the title (when you realize that "sensibility" meant to Austen something like what "sensitivity" means in modern-day English).
    • Lucy Steele may be Book Dumb, but she's a clever, focused social climber who knows how to keep a secret. Her older sister Anne is an airhead.
    • Edward is sensible, well-mannered, and well-educated. His brother Robert is a self-absorbed fop.
  • Foreshadowing: Colonel Brandon displaying the "taste" in music (during Marianne's playing at a party) that Marianne considers essential in a lover.
  • Get a Hold of Yourself, Man!: Elinor pleads with Marianne to see she doesn't have to spend the rest of her life crying and moping just because Willoughby is a Jerk Ass.
  • The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: The conflict between Marianne's advocacy of her behavior and indulgence in sensibility and Elinor's practical sense and insistence she try to control herself more mirrors the glorious war between Freud's Id and Superego.
  • Gold Digger:
    • Willoughby is a male example. He's very rich, as far as property is concerned. He owns an estate, Combe Magna, and some land with it, but he doesn't have lots of money, and later we find out why — he has debts. He's also expected to inherit possessions of Mrs Smith, to whom he is related, in particular her estate of Allenham Court. When he falls out of her favour, he decides to marry for money. He leaves penniless Marianne, whom he loves, and marries Miss Grey with fifty thousand pounds (the wealthiest bride in Jane Austen's 'verse). He later claims she knew he didn't love her when he proposed.
      Elinor: The lady then — Miss Grey I think you called her — is very rich?"
      Mrs Jennings: Fifty thousand pounds, my dear. Did you ever see her? A smart, stylish girl they say, but not handsome. I remember her aunt very well, Biddy Henshawe; she married a very wealthy man. But the family are all rich together. Fifty thousand pounds! And by all accounts, it won't come before it's wanted; for they say he is all to pieces. No wonder! Dashing about with his curricle and hunters! Well, it don't signify talking; but when a young man, be who he will, comes and makes love to a pretty girl, and promises marriage, he has no business to fly off from his word only because he grows poor, and a richer girl is ready to have him. Why don't he, in such a case, sell his horses, let his house, turn off his servants, and make a thorough reform at once? I warrant you, Miss Marianne would have been ready to wait till matters came round. But that won't do now-a-days; nothing in the way of pleasure can ever be given up by the young men of this age.
    • Lucy Steele. As a very young man, Edward Ferrars became secretly engaged to her. Even though he doesn't love her anymore, he can't honourably break off the engagement. She maintains the pretense of selfless devotion to him, even after he is disowned because of her, until she has secured a better prospect: his younger brother.
  • Greed: Fanny Dashwood and, to a lesser extent, her husband John. Seriously, they have an income about twelve times that of the other branch of the family, and John had given an effing promise to his dying father to take care of them; they should have done something. But Fanny is after money and hates splitting property. They have an only son, and it's implied they don't want more children so they don't have to split their family money among them.
    Fanny: Well, then, LET something be done for them; but THAT something need not be three thousand pounds. Consider that when the money is once parted with, it never can return. Your sisters will marry, and it will be gone for ever. If, indeed, it could be restored to our poor little boy—
    John: Why, to be sure, that would make great difference. The time may come when Harry will regret that so large a sum was parted with. If he should have a numerous family, for instance, it would be a very convenient addition.
  • Hidden Heart of Gold: Mr. Palmer behaves rudely or indifferently to everyone he meets in the belief that this makes him appear distinguished. Later, it's shown that he does love his family, especially his baby son, and he goes out of his way to be kind and polite to Marianne and Elinor when events go against them. Once staying in his house for the Easter holidays, Elinor is pleased to find that she likes him a lot more than she ever expected.
  • Hope Is Scary: Having been told to prepare for the worst, Elinor tries to keep herself from being hopeful when Marianne's fever breaks, but she can't help it.
    "Hope had already entered; and feeling all its anxious flutter, she bent over her sister to watch—she hardly knew for what."
  • I Can't Believe a Guy Like You Would Notice Me: Gender flipped. This is part of Edward's explanation for why he stayed in Norland for so long while he was falling in love with Elinor; he had convinced himself that she only saw him as a friend, so he was only hurting himself.
  • I Gave My Word:
    • Edward promised that he would marry an illiterate, mean, mercenary girl. Despite them being teenagers in love, he considered his word binding.
    • Elinor promised she would keep Lucy's secret, which she did, despite her personal heartbreak, and despite the girl's cat-playing-with-a-mouse behavior. It's especially honourable of her because Elinor's wording of the promise did not bind her to absolute silence. She said, in essence, that "your secret is safe with me," which is rather vague, and a less scrupulous person would probably feel she could at least tell her sister, or her mother. But she keeps her mouth shut and listens to all the snide comments. And all the while she could just drop a hint to her sister-in-law — Edward's sister — and the engagement would fall apart.
    • Subverted with John Dashwood, who gave his word that he would take care of his dying father's widow and his half-sisters after he died — only end up getting rather easily talked out of doing a single thing to help them by his greedy wife.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Mrs. Jennings finds a bottle of good wine and recommends it as a treatment for Marianne's heartbreak. As Marianne is already asleep, Elinor asks if she can drink it instead. After being horrified by Willoughby's actions and having to console Marianne the whole day, not to mention her own heartache over Edward's secret engagement, Elinor figures she'd do well to test its restorative powers on herself and downs "the greater part" as soon as the glass is in her hand.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy:
    • Elinor. Though it's more I Want My Beloved to Behave in a Morally Upright Manner; after several conversations with Lucy, Elinor is perfectly certain that Edward will not be happy if he marries Lucy, due to Lucy's poor character and shallow, selfish personality. However, breaking an engagement was a very serious breach of trust in that time, so he still needs to go through with it. She gets him in the end.
    • Edward is shown to be feeling this way when Elinor tells him that Colonel Brandon wants to give him the position of rector in the Delaford parish. The narrative is phrased in such a way that it's clear he thinks she was given the task of telling him because she's going to marry Colonel Brandon; he's dejected, but as he's engaged to Lucy, he certainly can't protest and so he just hopes for her happiness.
    • Colonel Brandon has to painfully resign himself to the probability that Marianne will marry Willoughby—which would be bad enough, given the man's character, even if Brandon wasn't in love with her himself. (He's quite relieved to learn that there's no engagement, despite the general knowledge of its existence.)
  • It's All About Me:
    • Marianne is deeply self-absorbed, considering her feelings (whether positive or negative) absolutely irrepressible and in the process disregarding common politeness and the feelings of others; when circumstances force Elinor to confess that she too has been unhappy, Marianne breaks down in tears of remorse, forcing Elinor to comfort her again, and continues to wallow in her own unhappiness — with added guilt, now — rather than provide emotional support for Elinor. It takes near-death to smarten her up. Granted, she's a teenager, but it's a major contrast with Elinor, who's 19 at the start of the novel, and displays more responsibility and consideration for others than many people much older than her.
    • All of the Ferrars family, with the exception of Edward, are deeply self-absorbed and will do just about anything to avoid being of use to anyone else. The narration notes that his mother seems to have a strange fear of being reproached for being too good-natured.
  • Jerk Ass:
    • John Dashwood and his wife Fanny. Fanny is far more of a Jerk Ass than John, though; it's shown that John does at least have genuine affection for his sisters and might be a better person without his wife's influence. He's still way too preoccupied with money to be very likable, however.
    • Fanny's other brother, Robert, is self-absorbed. When Elinor meets him, he talks only about himself and his views on every matter. He ridicules his brother Edward because he wants to become a clergyman.
    • Mrs. Ferrars is an extremely unpleasant woman. One really has to wonder how Edward turned out so nice, coming from such a family.
  • Kissing Cousins: Colonel Brandon confides his Back Story to Elinor, including the fact that his first love was his cousin Elizabeth. They also grew up together because she was his father's ward.
  • Knight in Shining Armor: Colonel Brandon is an honourable man. He's taken under his wing his first love's illegitimate daughter and continues taking care of her even though people suspect she's his illegitimate daughter as well, which is not true. He also very generously offers a living to Edward after his family disinherits him.
  • Last Minute Hookup: The Dashwood sisters finally get their men in the last three pages.
  • Last-Name Basis: Colonel Brandon's first name is never revealed.
  • Leave the Two Lovebirds Alone: Marianne makes a point of leaving Elinor alone with Edward as often as she can and can't understand why one or both of them will always leave when she does.
  • Love Hurts: The Austen Novel. First there's Edward's mixed signals towards Elinor, then there's Willoughby and Marianne's passionate romance and his inexplicable abandonment of her, then there's Edward's secret engagement to a girl he doesn't love anymore, then there's the Colonel Brandon's first love...
  • Manipulative Bastard: Manipulative Bitch. Fanny, as witnessed in her conversation with John where she persuades him to go back on his promise to his father. She makes no argument worthy of serious refutation, but the way she plays him is brilliant.
  • Master of the Mixed Message: Elinor meets Edward at the beginning of the novel, and they seem to hit it off, or at least Elinor's mother and sister think so. Elinor admits she likes him, but she says it's nothing serious because Edward never said he loved her and he never proposed to her. The reason for his mixed signals gets revealed soon. Edward is involved in a dead-end relationship with Lucy Steele. He doesn't love her anymore, but considers his engagement binding.
  • The Matchmaker: Mrs. Jennings, being a widow with two married daughters, now has nothing better to do than marry off the rest of the world.
  • Meaningful Echo: Near the beginning, Marianne describes the man of her dreams as a "connoisseur", with repeated emphasis on his good "taste" in music. Five chapters later, she realizes Colonel Brandon alone lacks the "shameless want of taste" displayed by everyone else as she plays the piano.
  • Mistaken for Romance: Brandon and Elinor tend to gravitate towards each other at social functions, so much that numerous characters believe them to be in love. Elinor would suspect that he fancied her if she didn't know that he was in love with Marianne, but there's no attraction on either side—it's just that they're usually the only two people with some sense.
  • Nice Guy: Sir John is boisterous and indiscreet, but he has a generous heart and his often Unwanted Assistance is all in the service of ensuring that his bereaved cousins don't feel dispirited or lacking for society.
  • Never My Fault: A truly despicable version from Willoughby, in a scene that is supposed to make him more sympathetic — he excuses himself from seducing and then abandoning Eliza by saying it's unreasonable to believe that "because I was a libertine, she must be a saint" (essentially, "blame us both equally," despite the fact that the consequences for her were far worse).
  • Nobility Marries Money:
    • Willoughby marries Miss Grey. He's a gentleman (and a scoundrel) of a landed gentry with a mansion house called Combe Magna, and he will inherit another house from his elderly childless cousin, Mrs. Smith. However, he lives extravagantly and is deeply in debt. Miss Grey has a dowry of fifty thousand pounds, which makes her the wealthiest heiress in Jane Austen's 'verse. Her feelings for him are not entirely clear, but he is a fashionable, handsome man, and she wants to get married so she can part with her guardians with whom she didn't get along. Willoughby claims he loves Marianne Dashwood who is lovely, intelligent, passionate, but poor as a church mouse, and Miss Grey, being rather plain, is understandably jealous; however, it's unclear how true that is, since Willoughby's account is the only one the reader is given and he's not the most honest guy. They are not an ideal couple, but the narrator says at the end of the book that they were not always unhappy together.
    • It's not indicated what Sir John's financial situation was before his marriage, but Lady Middleton is the daughter of a family that became wealthy through trade and not inheritance.
  • No Name Given: A very minor example, but the sharp-eyed reader may pick up on the fact that the narrative explicitly states that Sir John and Lady Middleton have "four noisy children." However, we are only ever introduced to John, William, and Annamaria. It's never even indicated whether the fourth child is a boy or a girl.
  • Nosy Neighbor: Sir John Middleton and his mother-in-law Mrs. Jennings take an overly eager interest in the love lives of their young friends. It's trying on the Dashwoods, but Elinor bears with it because they're both generous and well-intentioned.
  • The Not-Love Interest: Colonel Brandon and Elinor, whom half the cast eventually start shipping as much as Brandon/Marianne. Even Elinor admits to herself that she can understand where they get the idea.
  • Not What It Looks Like: Colonel Brandon approaches Elinor with a proposition — since Edward, freshly disinherited for being engaged to Lucy, needs to make a living, the Colonel wants to offer him the position of rector in his home parish, and would like Elinor to act as intermediary since the men have never met. Mrs. Jennings misunderstands what little she overhears, and thinks that the Colonel has proposed marriage to Elinor. Several pages later, the discrepancy is clarified, and both women are considerably amused by it.
  • Noveau Riche: Lady Middleton's obsession with well-bred behavior and exasperation with her mother and sister's manners implies this. (She's equally exasperated with her titled husband's lack of breeding when they visit London and he maintains his usual habit of impromptu social gatherings, which is Not Done in town.)
  • The Oath-Breaker: Lucy's jilting her fiancé is treated with all the gravity with which the era would regard it, even though Edward wants out.
  • Oblivious to Love: Marianne seems, through much of the story, like she's deliberately ignoring Colonel Brandon's undeclared love for her. On literally the second-to-last page, it's finally clarified that she honestly had no idea, and is stunned when she realizes it.
  • The One That Got Away: In the epilogue, it's said that Willoughby's reaction to whatever young lady is being talked up as a great beauty is to say that she is nothing to Mrs. (Marianne) Brandon.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted with John Willoughby, Mr. John Dashwood and Sir John Middleton. However, Willoughby is normally called by his last name, and Sir John has the honorific to set him apart.
  • Parental Favoritism:
    • It's clear that Marianne is her mother's favorite child; it's even explained in an early chapter that Mrs. Dashwood dotes on her because of her three daughters, Marianne is the most like herself.
    • It's also implied that Mrs. Jennings favors Mrs. Palmer over Lady Middleton, for the same reason.
    • Mrs. Ferrars clearly favors both Robert (her youngest) and Fanny (her only daughter) over Edward. Later, she even favors Lucy, Robert's wife, over Elinor, who marries Edward — despite the fact that Lucy was the reason she disinherited Edward in the first place!
  • Parental Marriage Veto:
    • In the personal history he imparts to Elinor, Colonel Brandon and his childhood sweetheart Elizabeth were forcibly separated.
    • Later, Edward's refusal to break off his engagement to Lucy causes his mother to disown him.
  • Parents as People: Mrs. Dashwood is a kind and loving but fallible character. By the end of the book, she's come to recognize that her own attitude toward things has contributed toward Marianne's disappointment. She also realizes that she let herself be blinded by Elinor's consideration and stoic nature, and fears that she's been unkind to her elder daughter by not taking notice of her pain.
  • Passed-Over Inheritance: Mr. Dashwood effectively gets hit with this at the beginning of the book; his elderly uncle leaves the bulk of his estate not to Mr. Dashwood, but to his son John, because during his final illness the uncle became deeply attached to John's little boy Henry. John had already inherited everything of his mother's, so he was comfortably settled in the first place, and Mr. Dashwood intends to use his time as the master of Norland to set aside money for his wife and daughters. Unfortunately, he dies less than a year after his uncle, so all he can leave them is what he himself owned, which is very little compared to the Norland estate.
  • Passive-Aggressive Kombat: Elinor and Lucy Steele.
  • Perpetual Poverty: The Dashwoods aren't exactly destitute (they have servants), but the situation in which they find themselves after Mr. Dashwood's death is certainly a massive step down for them socially.
  • Plot-Triggering Death: Mr. Dashwood's death is what forces his wife and daughters to seek a new home.
  • Politeness Judo: See Passive-Aggressive Kombat.
  • The Pollyanna: Mrs. Palmer is always ready to smile and laugh at everything. Her reaction to her husband's continual insults is simply to laugh and declare that he's extremely droll.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Marianne and Elinor, respectively.
  • Replacement Love Interest: It's implied that Marianne is this for Colonel Brandon, given her strong resemblance in both looks and temperament to his childhood sweetheart, Eliza.
  • Rich Bitch:
    • Fanny Ferrars comes from a very wealthy genteel family and marries John Dashwood who is also wealthy (his mother left him a large sum of money), and when his father Mr. Henry Dashwood dies, they come into possession of Norland, their family estate. Fanny is obsessed with money and she's a cold person.
    • Lady Middleton is an icy woman of high rank in society. She's very beautiful, tall, striking, graceful, elegant, well-bred, but also cold and reserved, and has absolutely nothing interesting to say. She tolerates the Miss Steeles because they are willing to suck up to her, and she's rather delighted with Fanny Dashwood. It's their mutual coldness that attracts them to pursue a friendship with one another.
    • Willoughby indicates that his wife Sophia is a haughty, unpleasant Ritch Bitch, although the reader gets no direct confirmation because she's never seen.
  • Romantic False Lead: Many, the biggest ones being Willoughby for Marianne and Lucy Steele for Edward.
  • Romanticism Versus Enlightenment: Essentially the point of the novel — Elinor and Austen alike both fall on the side of enlightenment, whereas Marianne is on the side of romanticism (the "cult of sensibility" of which she is a member was basically Romanticism in its early stages).
  • Sarcasm Mode: Austen's description of the "kindness" John Dashwood intends to show his half-sisters.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Edward.
  • Second Love: Colonel Brandon for Marianne (and vice versa, in fact); Elinor for Edward; the trope could also apply to Mrs. Dashwood, who was her husband's second wife.
  • Secret Keeper: Elinor for both Lucy and Brandon, with wildly different degrees of willingness.
  • Secret Relationship: Edward and Lucy.
  • Separated by a Common Language: Being "sensible" had a different meaning in Austen's time than it does now; sensibility in those days referred to an affection for things wild and untamed in nature. Nowadays, sense and sensibility mean pretty much the same thing. If the novel were written today it would probably be called Sense and Sensitivity.
  • Settle for Sibling: Planned by Mrs. Ferrars and ultimately happens... just not at all in the way she expected.
  • She Is Not My Girlfriend: Elinor, who usually ignores the various conjectures and hints everybody makes about her love life, at one point finds herself obliged to tell her brother that no, she is not going to marry Colonel Brandon. John completely ignores her. He knows better, obviously.
  • Shipper on Deck: At one point half the cast seems to ship Elinor and Colonel Brandon. Elinor and Brandon... don't share their opinion, although Elinor at least can see where they get the idea. She even admits to herself that if she didn't already know he's in love with Marianne, she would be persuaded to think he really does have a thing for her because they have such a great friendship.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Repeatedly.
    • Elinor and Marianne, of course, but in spite of their differences they are very close.
    • Edward Ferrars is about as unlike his brother and sister as it's possible to be.
    • The narrative states that Mrs. Palmer is several years younger than her sister, Lady Middleton, and "totally unlike her in every respect."
  • Sickeningly Sweethearts: Anne Steele, Lucy's sister, acts this way about her Love Interest, usually identified only as "the Doctor" (probably not that one). Word of God did say that she doesn't get him.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Elinor's first choice — and Marianne's second.
  • The Spock: Elinor, the "sense."
  • Spoiled Brat: Lady Middleton's children are described as this. They're overindulged and uncontrollable, and the reasons are illustrated in one scene where Annamaria scratches herself on a needle and starts crying—her mother and the Miss Steeles immediately begin pampering her, coddling her, and giving her sweets, which she perceives as a reward for her bawling.
  • Spot of Tea: Elinor's solution to everything. It's surprising she didn't think to throw a scalding hot cup of tea on Lucy's head.
  • Strongly Worded Letter: Elinor is unwilling to ask Marianne if she is engaged to Willoughby, fearing that her interference will be rejected. She decides that if things continue thus, she will write to her mother and "represent in the strongest manner [...] the necessity of some serious inquiry into the affair." (When she finally does make this plea, Mrs. Dashwood largely ignores it and only asks Marianne to be more open with them.)
  • Take Care of the Kids:
    • John Dashwood promises his dying father that he will... and doesn't.
    • Also part of Colonel Brandon's backstory, when his cousin/first love Elizabeth dies and bequeaths her daughter to him.
  • Talk About the Weather: Everyone except Marianne, who complains about this. Elinor, on the other hand, is able to answer questions about the weather before they are asked.
  • Triang Relations: Elinor and Lucy both love Edward; Brandon and Willoughby both love Marianne.
  • Twice Shy: Elinor and Edward.
  • Unable to Support a Wife: Edward's position at the end; he reconciles with his mother and receives some money.
  • The Vamp: Fanny Dashwood. The woman is a work of art. First she talks her husband out of fulfilling his father's Last Request to Take Care of the Kids. Then she treats them with all sorts of coldness and contempt because they're living in what is now her house. Then she resents them for taking their own staff with them when they move out. She even resents the fact that they take their own belongings with them!
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Marianne and her mother.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Fanny pulls an excellent one. Miss Steele reveals Lucy's engagement. Fanny falls into violent hysterics and kicks them out of the house. Her husband's comment: "She has borne it all with the fortitude of an angel! She says she shall never think well of anybody again."
  • Wrong Guy First: Marianne with Willoughby; Edward goes through Wrong Girl First with Lucy.

Adaptations with their own trope pages include:


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