The two main characters in Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen are symbolized by the contrast between Elinor and Marianne Dashwood. Elinor, the older sister, represents qualities of "sense", which stand for reason, restraint, social responsibility, and a clear-headed understanding of others. In contrast, Marianne, her younger sister, represents qualities of "sensibility", which stand for emotion, spontaneity, and impulsiveness. Whereas Elinor conceals her regard for Edward Ferrars, Marianne openly and unashamedly proclaims her passion for John Willoughby. Their different attitudes toward the men they love, and how to express that love, reflect there opposite temperaments.
For example, when Lucy Steele confessed her relationship and engagement to Edward, Elinor was "unable to divine the reason or object of such declaration, and though her complexion varied, she stood firm in incredibility and felt in no danger of an hysterical fit, or a swoon"(pg 86). This situation is a perfect example of how elinor, who is just as emotional as anyone else would be in this situation, handles her heartbreak, not allowing herself to show her emotions compared to Marianne. When Marianne receives Willoughby's letter, he denies any feelings for her, apologizes for any confusion, and tells her he is engaged to another woman. Marianne admits there was no formal engagement, but her love for Willoughby is clear. Marianne falls into a terrible emotional and physical sickness, whereas Elinor did not let her emotions destroy her life.
Sense and sensibility by Jane Austen is an overall satisfying novel. Marianne's change of heart for Colonel Brandon was the only unexpected scene I did not like that well. Marianne believes lovers should be young and passionate. She is certain that a man must have romantic qualities to be attractive. Marianne's expectations are extremely too high. For example, she says, "I could not be happy with a man whose tastes did not in every point coincide with my own.