Heroines... post five on Jane Austen

Sense and Sensibility
Here we have two heroines, the Dashwood sisters: Marianne, who is 17 years old, and Elinor is 19. The girls are going from great wealth to having very little, because they have a rat -- with a capital R -- for a half-brother, that refuses to help in even the smallest way when their father dies and everything goes to the Rat.

Marianne has Colonel Brandon showing clear interest in her, she being uninterested because he is twenty years older! -- which is actually refreshing, considering in those days old guys are always marrying teenagers and no one seems to bat an eyelash! Anyway, Marianne is filled with vitality both physically and emotionally and she figures an older man just won't do... enter Willoughby: a young dashing man who is handsome, loves the same poetry as Marianne, and (to top it off) will inherit plenty from his aunt. Just as things seem to be turning up roses for Marianne, Willoughby leaves, with no hope of returning. This turns Marianne into one of the most lovelorn figures in Austen’s world.

Then there is Elinor, who is prudent and rational -- and it is a good thing, too! Her situation becomes complicated: she develops feelings for Edward Ferrars, only to learn from Lucy Steele that he is secretly engaged to... Lucy Steele! I know this makes Edward sound like a scoundrel, but he isn’t, and Elinor knows that. Now, with Marianne torn up over Willoughby, and a mother that acts more like a younger sister than a mother, Elinor must bear her emotional turmoil with patience and a deep regard for doing what is right.

With Marianne’s emotional openness playing off Elinor’s silent endurance, what is created is a gripping emotional drama that makes you yearn for something good to happen to the Dashwood girls.