Modern Day: Sense and Sensibility
By: Becky Ketch
- Sense and Sensibility, written by Jane Austen and based in England, follows the lives of the female figures of the Dashwood family after Mr. Dashwood dies and is unable to leave his inheritance to his wife and daughters. Forced to leave his inheritance to his son, he asks him to provide enough money for his wife and daughters to live a comfortable life. His son’s wife, Franny, talks John out of leaving a large sum of money to the Dashwoods, so Mrs. Dashwood, Elinor, Marianne, and Margaret are left with barely any money at all. Sir John Middleton, Mrs. Dashwood’s cousin, invites the Dashwoods to live in a cottage on his property, and they gratefully accept. Before they leave for his estate, Elinor grows close to Franny’s brother, Edward Farras. In their new location, a man named Colonel Brandon falls in love with Marianne, but she falls in love with a handsome man named John Willoughby. Willoughby suddenly leaves Marianne, and it is later revealed that he married another woman for her money when the girls spend time in London. At this time, Elinor has not seen Edward in a long time, but she learns of an ongoing, five-year engagement to her acquaintance, Lucy Steele. After Marianne recovers from a serious illness, she falls in love with Colonel Brandon, and they marry. Edward Farras visits the Dashwoods, and he tells the mistaken family that Lucy married his brother, Robert. Shocked by the news that Edward is not married, Elinor reveals her relief, and Edward proposes to her. Elinor is depicted as a strong and collected character, while Marianne is more impulsive and naive.
- The main theme of love and how it controls large aspects of peoples’ lives is evident in this novel and in today’s society. Love is a theme that was apparent in the beginning of time and will continue on throughout the future. The idea of social classes is still very apparent in society today. While people usually are not prevented to marry someone of a different social status nowadays, the gaps between individuals of different incomes are still obvious. Another theme that is relevant to today’s issues, such as the wage gap between men and women, is femininity. The women in this novel are depicted as polite and delicate, but they also show passion that is characterized by the more modern idea of women.
- The first scene that is necessary is when Elinor speaks to Edward about how Colonel Brandon has offered him and his new wife a place to stay on his estate. Elinor shows her polite and calm nature as she holds her emotions together and appears to be happy for what she believes is the situation of the love of her life marrying another woman. The second scene that is necessary contradicts what the audience/reader knows to be true of Elinor. When she discovers that Edward is still single, she breaks down into a sobbing mess and shows just how much she has loved, and still loves, Edward. Elinor’s true feelings are shown, and her guard is let down.
Movie Review: 1999-Directed by Ang Lee
- I greatly enjoyed the movie version of Sense and Sensibility, and it did a tremendous job of showing important parts of the novel. The location, music, acting, and character list were fantastic, and I felt close to the characters at the conclusion and felt their sadness and their happiness. While the plot isn’t filled with action, the story line kept a good pace and was filled with genuine drama. I do not believe that an aspect of the movie didn’t work, because it showed an accurate depiction of finding love in the nineteenth century.
- The new interpretation takes place in present-day New York. The esteemed Dashwood family faces a crisis when Mr. Dashwood is convicted of forging financial records for his empire of a business and is sent to federal prison. Mrs. Dashwood and her three daughters are left with no money, because they depended on Mr. Dashwood’s wealth. Mrs. Dashwood’s cousin offers them an apartment on the floor of a building on Madison Avenue that he owns for a low price, and the girls move in. Elinor, the eldest daughter and senior at NYU, has recently fallen in love with a successful business mogul, Edward Farras, who is going through a divorce. Edward keeps telling Elinor that he will be free of his senseless wife as soon as she signs the divorce papers, but she refuses and Edward stays with her to maintain his respected reputation. After many months, Edward reappears in Elinor’s life, and he reveals to her that his now ex-wife, Lucy, has run off and eloped with his brother, Robert. Elinor is evidently content, and Edward is equally as happy that he can now start a life with the woman he truly loves. The main plot highlight is when Edward comes home to find the divorce papers signed and abandoned on his dining room table and then sees a photo of the newly married couple in Cabo on his Facebook Newsfeed. Edward offers Elinor a more than adequate diamond ring, and she is delighted that she can move into a new apartment that is not inhabited by her mother or sisters. This interpretation moves the characters from England to New York and depicts the Dashwoods as even more upper class than they are in the novel. A significant change is that the storyline focuses on the challenges that Elinor faces in finding love, and Marianne’s successes and failures in her love life are not highlighted and entangled with Elinor’s situation. Elinor is also not characterized as being as stoic and emotionless as she is in the beginning of the novel, and she reveals more emotions and addresses the audience about her true feelings on how she views the dramatic events of her life.
- Elinor Dashwood should be depicted as a beautiful young woman (around the age of twenty-two) with a calm disposition. She should be caring and motherly to her sisters, yet not afraid to let her guard down when she needs to be vulnerable. Elinor should also be intelligent and levelheaded, unlike her sister, Marianne. Elinor will play a key part in the scene when the family first moves into the bare apartment after their unfortunate loss of resources. While Mrs. Dashwood is distraught and angry at her husband’s selfishness, Elinor tries her hardest to be a comfort to her mother and sisters as she reassures them that everything will be okay as they all sit together in the center of their new, empty home. Elinor is viewed as the eye of the hurricane, calm and collected in the midst of chaos. This scene shows Elinor’s true character and how she will react later in the movie when things don’t go her way.
- First choice actor: Emma Watson
- Second choice actor: Amanda Seyfried
Setting & Music:
- Setting: The setting is the Upper East Side of New York City. This location helps show the wealth that surrounds the Dashwood family, even though they ironically lost everything after Mr. Dashwood was sentenced. The apartment that the family moves into is on Madison Avenue, a very affluent part of Manhattan where the girls would be very likely to run into wealthy bachelors.
- Music: The music should be lighthearted and soft. While some scenes are melancholy and may require the somber tone of an artist like James Blake, the other scenes should have the inspiring vocals of James Taylor. The music should draw emotion out of the audience and have lyrics that depict the ups and downs of falling in love. A few songs that should be included are “King and Cross” by Ásgeir and “Careful You” by TV on The Radio. A fun song that may be used for a happy scene that also follows the plot of the story is "Uptown Girl" by Billy Joel.