It is a truth universally acknowledged ,that anyone existing in the world will be caught in an ineluctable dilemma, where you hesitate in the face of sense and sensibility. Actually, whenever l meets such crossroads, l naturally think of Jane Austen, an outstanding writer of British, whose masterpieces partake of the aesthetic cross-currents ahead of her time. As she created Elinor and Marianne, she might have never regarded them prominent and imperishable. However, the characters of these two sisters have made a glorious impression on generations after generations; their ineffable mental world has become an inexhaustible resource to lead us from intersections.
The story mainly concerns two sisters, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood. Along with their mother and younger sister Margaret, they are left impoverished after the death of their father, and the family is forced to move to a country cottage offered by a generous relative. Elinor privately forms an attachment to the gentle and courteous Edward Ferrars, unaware that he is already secretly engaged. After their move, Marianne meets Willoughby, a dashing young man who leads her into undisciplined behavior, so that she ignores the faithful but mature Colonel Brandon. The contrast between two sisters' characters is eventually resolved as both find out their Mr. Right and everlasting idyll.
Elinor, the eldest daughter, whose advice is so effectual, possesses a strength of understanding, and coolness of judgment, which qualifies her, though only nineteen, to be very mature for her age. When her father died, she behaves really like a true woman, swallow tears inside, losing girlish temper, but carry on the burden of life and strive to rouse her mother to similar forbearance. Luckily she meets Edward, a sensible man with integrity and delicacy. But she still exerts her affection and stays imperturbable, though Marianne bursts forth with indignation:” Esteem him! Like him! Cold-hearted Elinor!” After their moving home, Marianne falls in love with Willoughby. Among all their surrounding acquaintance, Elinor is the only sightful person to impugn his integrity, and to doubt whether they have got engaged even when no one suspects it. After knowing Willoughby’s innermost ethos, she thinks it time and again, and overdoes comforting her pure sister. Subsequently life gives her another horrific pang — her admiring Edward has engaged secretly. It seems nothing can save her sinking heart now. Facing Lucy’s fake emotion, what should she do? Can she feel herself in danger of a hysterical fit or a swoon? Or can she insult Lucy because she is a fickle hypocrite who destroys her idyll? No, Elinor stays sensible. She forgives Lucy, Edward and anyone ever hurt her mind. Unlike Marianne, she never tells anyone about her broken heart, instead, she imparts great patience and elegance. No wonder she can’t hold herself back the moment she learns great changes from Edward, and burst into ceaseless tears of joy. After all, she is simply a woman, a sensible lady with sensitive emotion, a seraphic girl who appears strong but yearns for love and care inside.
Marianne, sensitive and ill-concealed, can’t have any moderation. She is monstrously pretty, highbrow and ethereal: she is everything but prudent. As a girl of 17, she has potent enough sensibility to make sure “the more I know the world, the more I am convinced that I shall never see a man whom l can really love.” And many are the tears shed by her in her last adieus to their residence so much beloved. Ironically, after meeting Willoughby, she falls head over heels in love with him forthwith and they read, dance, even tour together. Such conduct makes them of course most exceedingly laughed at; but ridicule can not shame, and seems hardly to provoke them. With minutes ticking away, Marianne’s love affair grows torrid and incandescent but Willoughby’s is on the contrary. Having perceived him at a party, Marianne can’t help pronouncing his name in a tone of affection and instantly glinting her emotion in public. Being hurt by his inexcusable guilt, she is entirely lost in sobs but is so stubborn that she tries all means to make excuses for his inconstant affair. Eventually , poor Marianne , languid and low from the nature of her malady , and feeling herself universally ill , can no longer hope that tomorrow will find her recovered . Thanks to this putrid tendency, a sensitive Marianne sleeps forever, and lives a sensible female.
Having finished reading the last word of Sense and Sensibility, I softly sigh in the darkness. After experiencing the narrow path zigzagging up the immutable love, both Elinor and Marianne find out Mr. Right whom they belong to. But which character should I choose? To be sensible or to be sensitive?
I think Elinor ought to gain more understanding and sympathy. No matter in novel or in reality, Elinors actually suffer more burdens than Mariannes, as well as solitude. It’s impossible to read anything from their smooth appearance, thus we think their tough appearance means their tough spirits for granted. However, it turns out to be wrong when Elinor receives sudden proposing marriage from Edward and bursts into crying. At that time, Elinor is another Marianne, fragile and ingenuous. She badly needs love but never speaks it out. Perhaps it’s because she is the eldest sister in the family, she can’t count on any help from her sisters or mother. So when Marianne sheds for falling leaves, she has to pay attention to the cost of living. I always believe that under Elinor’s fortitude surface lives a beating heart. She only hides her passion for life and devotion to love, thus duty is the very thing she cares for. When hurt by love, she endures it alone, unlike Marianne yearning for everyone’s focus. When realized Lucy’s skullduggery, she still tolerates it for the sake of her Edward. Because of her sense, she has to sacrifice her passion and her unlimited girlhood.
As for Marianne , she abhors all concealment where no real disgrace can attend unreserved ; and to aim at the restraint of sentiments which are not in themselves illaudable , appeared to her not merely an unnecessary effort , but a disgraceful subjection of reason to common-place and mistaken notions . In sacrificing general politeness to the enjoyment of undivided attention where her heart is engaged, and in slighting too easily the forms of worldly propriety, she displays a want of caution which Elinor can not approve. She , who has never much toleration for anything like impertinence , vulgarity , inferiority of parts , or even difference of taste from her spirits , to be pleased with the Miss Steeles . Such openness, such sincerity! Though substantially hating the dark side of morality, Marianne is condemned by such event and is nearly led to the grave. She innocently thinks she can live independently from the circumstance; actually she has been gradually changed by the circumstance. At the end of the story, Marianne submits to her sister’s sense as she firmly rejected initially, and accepts plain-featured Colonel Brandon. Does it mean she eventually grows up, or she is a victim of circumstance? Because of her sensibilities, she has to go through vicissitudes and abandon her romantic opinions towards life, and ultimately becomes intellectual, instead of falling a sacrifice to an irresistible passion as once fondly flattered herself with expecting.
To be sensible or to be sensitive? The genius of Jane Austen lies in this thought-provoking ideology, one that reflects the wisdom of living. As Jane herself explained :”With strong affection it’s impossible , with calm ones it can have no merit “ , so no matter to be sensible or to be sensitive , we all have to sacrifice something . Maybe we will be forced to have a good head on your shoulders in this bitter process, maybe we will cultivate an air of sophistication, or maybe we lose our nature qualities to satisfy the society. But who knows? Probably our life should display a perfect fusion of sense and sensibility. That’s why I equally love Elinor and Marianne. They represent two sides of the personality, but both combine to a perfect morality. So it’s not necessary to argue whether sense is premier or not. I still remember a saying from William Butler Yeats:" In life courtesy and self-possession are the sensible impressions of the free mind, for both arise from never being swept away, whatever the emotion , into confusion or dullness?” Just like the novel undertoned, sense and sensibility are two sisters, they can’t live alone, but at most time, what we should do is more akin to empower our emotion than become emotionally involved.
People at home and abroad always admire the way British behave. For example, when Princess Dianna met a car accident, Queen Elizabeth bravely held in her feelings and treated it calmly with dignity. To each individual, sense similarly plays the main role. Take a liberty to deliberate on how to adjust your impulsion instead of running in circles. Is what you do an engagement of your heart? Are you constantly reading and answering messages or checking on the latest stream of information? Are you always rushing through your schedule? Then be that vision. Value the sense. It’s a treasure and it’s available to us, always.
In the end, by some freak of fate people extravagant or good-natured all have a happy ending. We don’t know whether the virtue will pay off while the wickedness will receive its revenge. However, it shows reality, that life is complicated full of unknown miseries. Jane Austen sets us a perfect balance between sense and sensibility, between moral duty and earthly pleasure, between obligation to the spirit and attention to the incredible beauty. As we think further and further , Margaret , the youngest sister in the family , has reached an age highly suitable for dancing and it’s not very ineligible for being supposed to have a lover . What a titanic choice will she make between sense and sensibility? Only your heart will tell.