Elinor and Marianne Dashwood are loving but very different sisters. Elinor is all about social propriety, and Marianne about sentiments. One has too much sense, and the other sensibility. Yet they both struggle with love. The mother of Elinor’s love interest opposes their union, and Marianne’s lover is not who she thinks she is. What will they have to encounter to achieve the perfect balance and arrive at their happy endings?
I initially hated this book and thought it should be called “Selfishness and Superiority.” Marianne was self-absorbed and Elinor thought herself superior to everyone around her, either through observation skills or moral standards.
However, I eventually changed my opinion. Marianne learned self-control out of love for her sister, and Elinor, although still thinking herself superior, proved justified in her belief. Even Edward, whom I took to be a coward, was revealed as just overly responsible.
I came across a post noting that apparently some people consider Ang Lee’s movie Crouch Tiger Hidden Dragon an adaptation of S&S. Because I did not spot any similarities, I found an article that says that the shared message is that people need a mixture of sense and sensibility. While that is true, there are two differences here.
One difference lies in the social systems by which etiquette was defined. This might sound like a given but while in S&S it just seems to be about relationships with one’s inner circle, in the Chinese heroistic world it’s a responsibility to all society.
This means that the characters in Crouching Tiger had much more at stake, including self-worth, honor and societal influence. Thus comparing the two sets of s&s would be like comparing a frisbee to a galaxy because both are disc-shaped. That said, S&S is still a charming work, and Austen does a great job sending her message about the necessity of both sense and sensibility.