Sense and Sensibility
By: Brittany Lewandowski
Elinor and Marianne Dashwood are left with nothing after the death of their father Henry and in turn seek to find love in order to repair the hole and loneliness left behind by their father. The novel conveys the hardships, journeys, lessons learned and maturity of the girls over time without their father. Through this, the individual personalities of the girls is revealed and is reflected through how they carry themselves in times of hardships (when their loves deliver dreadful news to them) and in joyful times full of happiness (their marriages). In regards to the title, it reflects upon the personal evolution of both Elinor and Marianne and it conveys two symbols that can be used to represent the novel in its entirety.
Summary of Novel:
The book opens up with the death of Henry Dashwood, father of Elinor and Marianne Dashwood. Both young ladies serve as the protagonists in this story. Much to the girls dismay, their father leaves his estate (Norlandpark) behind to his wealthy step-son, John leaving his daughters and wife behind very little but the promise that John will take care of them. John's wife, however convinces him that he does not need to help the women and therefore he neglects his promise almost as soon as he made it. Left with no house, the Dashwood girls and their mother stay with distant relatives until they can purchase a house within their means. It is during this time that Elinor meets Edward Ferrars. Edward and Elinor prove to be interested in one another and the Dashwoods predict an engagement between the two. Mrs. Ferrars however has other arrangements for Edward and does not see Elinor fit to be his wife. After this event, the Dashwoods move into a small cottage offered to them by one of their cousins at Barton Park. Here, Marianne meets Colonel Brandon who shows affection towards Marianne that she ultimately denies for the time being, because she only has eyes for Willoughby, a young gentleman visiting his aunt. Shortly after meeting, Marianne and Willoughby fall in love and another engagement is expected until Willoughby states that he is moving back to London leaving behind his love, Marianne. One day, an unexpected visit to the Dashwoods by a woman named Lucy Steele reveals that Edward does not love Elinor at all and in fact has been engaged to her for multiple years. This declaration almost serves as a warning to Elinor to stay away from Edward and give up on any hope she clings to of there being a relationship between the two. Meanwhile, Marianne desperately tries to contact Willoughby but these attempts fail and ultimately make her very love sick. Similarly to Elinor's situation, Willoughby writes back after a long period of time claiming he is too engaged to a Miss. Grey. This crushes Marianne making her sick and suicidal. In the end, Edward comes back and confesses to Elinor about Lucy and their broken off engagement. After this, the two happily get married. As for Marianne, eventually Willoughby returns and confesses his love to her, but she deems him unfit to be her husband and marries Colonel Brandon instead. In the end, despite broken hearts throughout the novel, the girls are happy because they live in close proximity to one another and can visit each other frequently.
- In times of hardship and conflict looking for a quick solution to misery and sadness can prove to be even more painful than original thought.
- Chasing after something you think you want does not always get you what you hoped it to be.
- Living life freely and not always being in pursuit for something to bring you joy and pleasure will ultimately lead to pure bliss and happiness.
The death of Henry Dashwood serves as an important scene in the novel because this represents the girls' new lifestyle independent from their father. While alive, Henry provided a financial cushion for his family and now they are left with nothing.This scene begins to highlight the horror the Dashwood girls feel in discovering that they are not financially well off and therefore results in the rush towards both of the girls finding a husband quickly to provide a sense of security for themselves once more. This event alone is the most important event of the story, because without the death of their father, the girls would never have gone on their journeys and discovered who they are and what they want in a soulmate apart from money.
Another important scene is when Marianne sees Willoughby in London at the ball and realizes he is not meant for her. This scene shows that we don't always know what we want or what is best for us. Marianne thought Willoughby was her soulmate and therefore overlooked the interests of Colonel Brandon, the man who really mattered in her life. I think this scene also shows how being desperate for love and finding a soulmate quickly can turn out to be very negative. This is depicted through Willoughby's cunning, manipulative character as he ultimately denies Marianne leaving her heartbroken. Through this scene, readers can take away the importance of taking things slow and not rushing through life, but rather enjoying it and sitting back to see how everything works out.
Actresses Emma Thompson (Elinor) and Kate Winslet (Marianne) play the roles of the two sisters and their characters perfectly. Throughout the movie, Thompson depicts Elinor's affectionate character while Winslet plays the spontaneous sensible Marianne aligning similarly to the novel. The boys however are very different in the movie than how they were described in the book. In the movie they were given different attributes and characteristics that I think were given to them to make them appeal to a modern day audience as Austen published her book in 1811. In 1811 people found different characteristics and appearances to be attractive illustrating the reasoning behind the differences in the movie and book. The actresses are also older than Elinor and Marianne are in the book. I think this was done to make the love story and immense age gap between the girls and their lovers seem more plausible. Many of the differences were due to attract a modern day audience and not to2ake away from the novel and all in all the movie was a good interpretation of the book itself.
For my interpretation of "Sense and Sensibility", I would create a movie similar to the 1995 one in regards to plot however with a modern take on it. New, successful actors and actresses would replace the ones in the 1995 version in order to draw in an audience and to make the film successful in the box office.
Situation: Marianne and Elinor Dashwood cope with their new reality without a dad and set out on an adventure to find a husband to make up for their loss and lack of finances they were accustomed to having.
Characters: All of the important ones in the book. (Mrs. Dashwood, Henry Dashwood, Elinor, Marianne, Colonel Brandon, John Dashwood, Fanny Dashwood, Margaret Dashwood, John Willoughby, Lucy and Anne Steele, Miss Sophia Grey, Sir John Middleton, Mrs. and Mr. Jennings, Charlotte and Thomas Palmer, Edward Ferrars, and Mrs. Ferrars)
Setting: London, England
Time: Modern day, 2015
Plot highlights: The death of Mr. Dashwood, Lucy breaking the dreadful news of her engagement to Edward to Elinor, Willoughby confessing his love for Marianne after being so distant and finally, both of the girls getting married.
Elinor Dashwood: Anne Hathaway or Emma Watson
Elinor's personality is more reserved and she tends to think through any options thrown at her. In the book she is depicted as a strong character that is always there for others in their time of need. Elinor is also more independent than other characters such as her sister Marianne who demands constant attention and serves as the voice of reason amongst all the women. The actress that plays Elinor should have dark hair and be relatively young in order to effectively play the role of Elinor throughout her journey of finding true love. Also, as described in the book the actress should be physically fit and should represent someone who is well kept, calm and that can be looked up to by other characters in the movie. One main scene Elinor will play a key part in will be when she meets Edward for the first time and falls in love with him. This scene reveals a lot about her personality and character in that although her outward appearance seems to be strong and free from the emotions her sister Marianne possesses, she really does have strong emotions rooted deep within her.
With my desire to keep my movie as close as possible to the book, I decided to place its setting in London. When the movie is focused on scenes where the Dashwood's are at home in Barton Park, the setting will be in the countryside of London as opposed to when they leave their house and come into the city, the setting will be more urban. My movie would take place in the summer so that my actors and actresses could wear summer clothing and so that the bright, vibrant colors associated with summer would be shown highlighting the beauty London has to offer.
The costumes worn by both the male and female actors will reflect the modern day style and fashion in London today. Days where the characters stay in the countryside and close to home they will wear casual clothing as illustrated below. When the characters move into the city, or go to visit or meet new characters their attire will change to something that is more formal consisting of skirts and dresses for women with a formal top and dress pants and a formal button down shirt for the men.
At the beginning of the movie when the Dashwood's are still mourning the death of their father, the music will be somber and classical reflecting the overall mood. The same music will be played during the time in which both Marianne and Elinor experience heartbreak. During times of excitement and happiness, joyful music will be played. Overall, the music will match the mood that is conveyed in the movie but music will not always be played while acting is taking place.