Sense and Sensibility

by Jane Austen

Sense and Sensibility

Sense and Sensibility is a novel of manners and societal expectations. The story concerns two sisters, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood (Elinor representing “sense” and Marianne “sensibility”). Along with their mother and younger sister Margaret, they are left impoverished after the death of their father. The family is forced to move to a country cottage, offered to them by a generous relative. Before the move, Elinor forms an attachment to Edward Ferrars, and after the move, Marianne forms one for John Willoughby. These attachments lead to problems both personally and socially, and they must learn important lessons about themselves before resolutions can occur.

The novel was published in 1811 and was the first of Austen's works to be published, although it was originally printed under the pseudonym "A Lady."

Source: Austen, J. (1811). Sense and Sensibility. London, England: T. Egerton.

Chapter I
The Dashwood family is introduced.
Chapter II
Mrs. John Dashwood, Fanny, is described and is revealed here as a creature even more selfish and uncaring as her husband.
Chapter III
Mrs. Dashwood and her daughters stay at Norland for a few months, because it is difficult to find a new home which they can afford with their small income. Edward and his relationship with the family is described.
Chapter IV
The clash between sense and sensibility is again shown in this discussion between Elinor and Marianne, and what their views on Edward and Elinor’s relationship are.
Chapter V
Mrs. Dashwood announces that they are to leave soon, and take the cottage in Devonshire. The chapter describes everyone’s reactions.
Chapter VI
The Dashwoods are melancholy on setting off, but as they get closer to Barton Cottage they become more interested in this new area and the new home they are to inhabit. This chapter highlights the theme of expectations vs. reality. Sir John Middleton is introduced.
Chapter VII
Barton Park is a very open and elegant home, and Sir John and his wife are never without a good many guests. Mrs. Jennings and Colonel Brandon are introduced and described.
Chapter VIII
Marianne seems to be displeased with much and Mrs. Jennings tries to marry everyone off.
Chapter IX
The family is now settled at Barton Cottage, and much happier there than they were at Norland after Mr. Dashwood’s death. A new and intruiging stranger is introduced that captures the attention of many.
Chapter X
Willoughby calls again the next morning, and the family are again convinced of his charms, as he comes to admire them, and Marianne in particular. An attraction is growing.
Chapter XI
Mrs. Dashwood and the girls are busied with more engagements in the neighborhood than they could have expected. In all social engagements to which the Dashwoods are invited, Willoughby is invited as well; his attachment to Marianne continues to grow, but not everyone likes it.
Chapter XII
Elinor is displeased and bothered by new events.
Chapter XIII
The party is supposed to go on a picnic to the estate of Colonel Brandon’s brother-in-law, but they end up not going at all because Colonel Brandon gets a distressing letter that morning, and is forced to leave to attend to related business. Marianne is growing increasingly more reckless, and is exposing herself imprudently to the possibility of great disappointment in her relationship with Willoughby.
Chapter XIV
Mrs. Jennings continues to ponder over what exactly drew Colonel Brandon away so suddenly. Willoughby is becoming an even more attentive guest at the cottage, spending a great deal more time there than Allenham with his aunt.
Chapter XV
Mrs. Dashwood, Elinor, and Margaret go to call on Lady Middleton, while Marianne remains behind. Things with Willoughby do not seem to be going well.
Chapter XVI
Marianne is up crying the whole of that night, and is absolutely inconsolable and overly dramatic in her grief.
Chapter XVII
Mrs. Dashwood is happy to see that Edward has come, and welcomes him very warmly as their guest. Again, the theme of money is shown to be of importance to the Dashwood girls; they cannot sustain themselves on their very small fortunes, and this limits their choices.
Chapter XVIII
Things are not well between Elinor and Edward. Unhappiness is prevailing.
Chapter XIX
Marianne and Elinor are again shown to be foils in their responses to misfortune in their love lives. This chapter shows a certain confrontation between the gossipy mirth of Mrs. Jennings and her daughter, and the propriety, and perhaps even unsociability, shown by Lady Middleton and Mr. Palmer.
Chapter XX
Mrs. Palmer and Mrs. Jennings begin to encourage Marianne and Elinor to go to town for the winter.
Chapter XXI
In this chapter, Austen writes a gentle satire on the manners of the upper class.
Chapter XXII
Disappointment hits Elinor just as hard as it had with Marianne; her expectations, once again a theme in the story, are immediately dashed.
Chapter XXIII
Elinor does not have the luxury of doubting the truth of Lucy's confession; yet, she is convinced that Edward loves her, and not Lucy. She decides to speak to lucy again.
Chapter XXIV
An uneasy conversation between Elinor and Lucy as insincerity and jealousy reign.
Chapter XXV
Mrs. Jennings invites Marianne and Elinor to spend the winter with her in London, but not everyone is excited by this prospect.
Chapter XXVI
Elinor finds the company of Mrs. Jennings somewhat awkward, given a lack of things in common and the brevity of their acquaintance.
Chapter XXVII
Marianne is thrilled by the prospect of an anticipated visitor’s arrival, but Elinor is doubtful and critical of the return.
Chapter XXVIII
Marianne and Elinor are obliged to accompany Lady Middleton to a party, though Marianne clearly has no heart for it where the girls meet up with Willoughby again, but the meeting does not go well.
Chapter XXIX
An exchange of letters that do not bode well for many.
Chapter XXX
Mrs. Jennings returns, with news of Willoughby’s fiancée and his coming marriage.
Chapter XXXI
Marianne still cannot see Willoughby for the blackguard that he is; she wants to believe him innocent, though wavers in her convictions. More of Colonel Brandon’s past is finally discussed.
Chapter XXXII
Elinor tells Marianne of the Colonel’s story, and though Marianne is now convinced of Willoughby’s guilt, it does not ease her mind.
Chapter XXXIII
A run-in with John Dashwood reveals more about his character and nature.
Chapter XXXIV
Fanny takes the trouble to visit Mrs. Jennings and Lady Middleton, and deems them worthy company.
Chapter XXXV
Elinor wishes no connection with Mrs. Ferrars after seeing her rudeness, and is somewhat glad that because she cannot marry Edward, she will never have to suffer Mrs. Ferrars’ company.
Chapter XXXVI
Mrs. Palmer, Mrs. Jennings’ daughter, has a son; Mrs. Jennings is with her daughter most days, which means Elinor and Marianne are obliged to spend their days with the Middletons.
Chapter XXXVII
An engagement announcement causes at uproar.
Elinor and Marianne think that Edward’s resolve to marry Lucy is honorable, all the more since he probably knows he will not be happy marrying her.
Chapter XXXIX
Marianne is desperate to finally be gone from London; but they are to stay until they go to the Palmers’ with Mrs. Jennings, which is part of the way home from London. An inevitable couple is forming.
Chapter XL
Mrs. Jennings at first thinks that Elinor and the Colonel were discussing an attachment between them, but soon is able to catch on that they were discussing Edward and his need for a position.
Chapter XLI
Lucy’s manipulative nature is again shown by her resolution to take advantage of the Colonel’s wealth and generosity as much as she can, as a result of having him confirmed in her opinion as an extremely kind and giving person.
Chapter XLII
It is April, and the Dashwood girls, the Palmers, and Mrs. Jennings, and Colonel Brandon set out for Cleveland, the Palmer’s estate.
Chapter XLIII
In this chapter, Mrs. Jennings emerges as a much more caring, sympathetic person than she has before.
Chapter XLIV
The reintroduction of Willoughby seems particularly designed to prove him as callow and cruel as his behavior to Marianne in London suggested.
Chapter XLV
Elinor, in spite of herself, feels for Willoughby, as she is assured of his grief at being forever parted from Marianne and from their family. A marriage proposal is on the horizon.
Chapter XLVI
Marianne has finally seen her errors of being selfish and unjust toward many; her repentance is sincere, and she also laments her impropriety with Willoughby.
Chapter XLVII
Marianne’s transformation seems complete at this point; her affections for Willoughby are put to rest, and even her mother, who was once fond of him, has decided to forgive and forget. It seems at this point that Elinor’s hopes for happiness are destroyed, as she does not have a suitor as Marianne still does.
Chapter XLVIII
A foreshadowed development comes to fruition.
Chapter XLIX
A further description of the relationship between Lucy and Robert.
Chapter L
Two years have passed. Edward is welcomed back by his mother, although he does not regain his inheritance from Robert. Mrs. Ferrars and even John and Fanny come and visit them at Delaford. Mrs. Dashwood and her two remaining daughters spend most of their time at Delaford, both to be near Elinor, and out of the hope that Marianne might accept the Colonel.
  • Year Published: 1811
  • Language: English
  • Country of Origin: England
  • Readability:
    • Flesch–Kincaid Level: 9.5
  • Word Count: 126,194
  • Genre: Romance
  • Keywords: 19th century literature, british literature, jane austen
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