In Jane Austen's novel Sense and Sensibility the title is a metaphor for the two main characters, Elinor and Marianne. Elinor represents sense and Marianne represents sensibility. The original version of this novel was titled Elinor and Marianne and has been known to be the first novel that Austen worked on, which is also her first published text. It was originally a series of letters between the two sisters, but evolved to become the novel we know and read today (Bates). As a supreme prose stylist, Austen secured a lasting place in English literature.
Jane Austen was born in Steventon, England in 1775, the seventh of eight children. Her father, the Rev. George Austen, her mother, Cassandra, and their six boys and two girls lived modestly at the rectory. Austen led a happy childhood; her family often read aloud to each other and preformed plays. They encouraged her talent and intellect, and Austen began writing during her teenage years to entertain her younger brother. It was not until 1795 that Austen began writing Sense and Sensibility, otherwise known as Elinor and Marianne at the time, which would later be introduced as, perhaps, Austen's best work. However, some critics found Sense and Sensibility to be one of her least successful novels.
Modern readers and critics, on the whole, do not consider Sense and Sensibility to be Austen's best work. Her characterization is flat in parts, her two heroines, Elinor and Marianne, are both too extreme and two-dimensional to be truly sympathetic. The story is somewhat unsatisfying because Marianne's change of heart is hastily discussed in a paragraph at the end of the novel. The ending is also regarded as Austen's weakest, as elements seem to come from left field and are badly justified by the text. However, this novel was an auspicious beginning for Austen, and is a valuable book at the start of her writing career and of her development as a novelist.