Sense and Sensibility
Questions for Study
Critics have claimed that the whole plot of Sense and Sensibility depends on the tension between what is concealed and what is shared with others--the private and the public. Do you agree with this statement?
What were the advantages and disadvantages of Austen's decision to publish this novel anonymously?
Although it ends with the marriages of the two main female characters, some readers have claimed that of all of Austen's novels, Sense and Sensibility has the saddest ending. Do you agree with this statement?
Do you find Marianne's decision to marry Colonel Brandon to be a plausible conclusion? Why or why not?
Elinor and Marianne's younger sister Margaret plays a very minor role in the novel. Why do you think Austen included this character? Does she further any of the plot? Does she shed light on any of the other characters?
Comment on Austen's depiction of children in the novel. Consider Lady Middleton's four children, Margaret Dashwood, and the birth of Mrs. Palmer's child. What do the other characters say about these children? What does Austen say about them directly? What do the children's own actions tell us about them?
Although Elinor Dashwood is not a first-person narrator, most of the story is told through her eyes and Austen seems to agree with all of her opinions. Why do you think the author chose this method of storytelling?
What is the role of letters in Sense and Sensibility? When does Austen include the letters that one character sends to another, and when does she merely mention that such a letter was sent? How do you think Austen determined whether a letter would be displayed or simply described? How do both kinds of letters further the novel's plot or characterizations?
Before he abandons Marianne, is John Willoughby a likeable character? Does Austen give any indication early on in the novel that he is not as he appears?
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