Sense and Sensibility Important Characters

Elinor Dashwood

Elinor is the oldest of Mrs. Henry Dashwood's three daughters and the most sensible. She feels a responsibility towards her mother and sisters, which she exhibits through how she reacts to stressful situations. An example of this is the way in which she tries to help her sister, Marianne, cope with the breakup of her relationship with Willoughby.

Elinor is in love with Edward Ferrars, who is her sister-in-law's brother. Her sister-in-law and her sister-in-law's mother do not approve of Elinor, because she is not from a prominent enough social class. Elinor's sister-in-law, Fanny, is cold towards Elinor and tries to dissuade her from feeling attached to Edward.

Elinor, after learning Edward has been engaged to someone else for four years, doesn't allow her true feelings to show to Edward's fiancé. Instead she tries to be as kind as she can towards the young lady, until the lady shows how cruel she can be to Elinor. She does this by flaunting her relationship with Edward in front of Elinor, to purposefully cause her emotional distress.

In the end Elinor and Edward are united in marriage and live a peaceful life together. They suit each other in temperament and in mutual affection for each other.

Edward Ferrars

Edward is the son of Mrs. Ferrars and the sister of Fanny Dashwood, who is Elinor Dashwood's sister-in-law. Edward is a calm man, who finds himself embroiled in a complicated situation. It seems four years before meeting Elinor, he became secretly engaged to Lucy Steele, who he saw less and less of as the years went on. He meets Elinor through his sister and falls in love with her, but he fails to mention his engagement to her. His mother also has high aspirations for her son, she wants him to have a career which will make him a prominent man in society. He wants to be ordained and serve the church and his congregation, which does not please his mother.

He also shows he is a man of his word, because after his engagement is exposed to his mother, he allows himself to be disinherited rather than break the engagement. He does this despite no longer being in love with Lucy. In the end it is Lucy who breaks the engagement, so she can marry Edward's brother, Robert. Edward is then free to pursue the career of his choice and to marry the woman he really loves, Elinor.

Marianne Dashwood

Marianne Dashwood is a teenage girl when she is rescued after a fall by Willoughby. He sweeps her off her feet, by showing her constant attention and making her think he is in love with her. She is certain it is only a matter of time before the two of them will become engaged. She allows her sensibilities to be compromised by going out alone with him and addressing him informally, which at the time is appropriate for only engaged couples.

He suddenly leaves her to return to London, she after being invited to stay with Mrs. Jennings, follows him there. She, in her mind, dreams of a reunion which will only serve to cement their relationship. Instead, her heart is broken after finding out he is engaged to another woman and as he marries her. She cannot see how indiscrete she has been by writing him letters which are considered intimate, because she expresses her desire to see him and how much she misses him.

Marianne is cruel towards Colonel Brandon going so far as to make fun of the man, even though she knows he has feelings for her. She is rather self-centered and spoiled, she wants what she wants and she wants it right away. If she does not want to talk to someone, she simply leaves the room as the person enters and leaves Elinor to clean up her social messes.

In the end she matures, after a near death illness, and realizes how insensitive she has been to others, especially Elinor. She tries to forgive Willoughby and allows herself to fall in love with Colonel Brandon, whom she marries.

John Willoughby

Willoughby, as he is called throughout the book, is a rogue, who uses women to serve his needs. He allows Marianne Dashwood to fall in love with him, even though he has no intention of following through with the relationship. He does end up falling in love with her, but he sacrifices his relationship with her to marry a woman, who has a substantial amount of money.

He always lives beyond his means, hoping the inheritance he expects from his relative, Mrs. Smith, will help pay his bills. This scheme backfires after Mrs. Smith finds out he has an illegitimate child; whose mother he refuses to marry. Mrs. Smith not only disinherits him, but she also throws him out of her home. This is why he marries a woman with money, who he does not love. His betrayal crushes Marianne's spirit and leaves her despondent. Elinor is left to clean up the mess he left behind, by trying to help her sister recover from her shock and feelings of betrayal.

He does show some true remorse for his actions, as he visits Elinor to tell her his true feelings for Marianne and how sorry he is for how he treated her. This visit is prompted by the news of Marianne's impending death, which by the time he reaches her is no longer a threat, as she is beginning to recover from her illness.

Lucy Steele

Lucy Steele is a relative of Mrs. Jennings, who is Lady Middleton's mother. Lady Middleton is the wife of Sir John the man who has given the Dashwood ladies a place to live. Lucy tries too hard to be nice to people she thinks can benefit her either socially or economically. She therefore befriends Lady Middleton and her children, and she tries to become friends with Fanny Dashwood. Lucy is secretly engaged to Edward Ferrars, so she confides in Elinor about her impending marriage. She does this in part to let Elinor know that Edward is taken, because she senses Elinor and Edward are close.

After Edward is disinherited, Lucy forms an attachment to his brother Robert and marries him. She is disingenuous to those around her, using them to suit whatever purpose she needs from them.

Colonel Brandon

He is a friend of Sir John Middleton, who meets the Dashwood sisters at Barton Park, which is Sir John's home. He is immediately taken by Marianne, but she is put off because he is older than she and he has been in love before, which to Marianne disqualifies him from being considered as a potential suitor.

He stays loyal to not only Marianne, but to her family especially during Marianne's illness, going so far as to ride to Mrs. Dashwood's home to bring her to her child's bedside. He on this trip expresses his love for Marianne to her mother, who is pleased by this revelation.

Colonel Brandon is the owner of Delaford and wealthy, this also pleases Mrs. Dashwood who hopes her daughter will be well taken care of by Colonel Brandon. He manages to convince Marianne he is a man worthy of her love and the two of them marry.

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