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Extracts from 'Sense and Sensibility' by Jane Austen

Extracts from 'Sense and Sensibility' by Jane Austen

Earlier in the week, we gave you the opportunity to look at some longer passages from Sense and Sensibility. We’re now going to focus together on three short extracts.

The following three extracts from the novel give different perspectives on the two sisters’ experiences of heartbreak. We’ll be discussing these extracts in the next step.

From Chapter 16

In this extract, Marianne has just learned that her beloved Willoughby has been sent to London on business, and does not know when he will return. Marianne is devastated by the news.

Marianne would have thought herself very inexcusable had she been able to sleep at all the first night after parting from Willoughby. She would have been ashamed to look her family in the face the next morning, had she not risen from her bed in more need of repose than when she lay down in it. But the feelings which made such composure a disgrace, left her in no danger of incurring it. She was awake the whole night, and she wept the greatest part of it. She got up with a headache, was unable to talk, and unwilling to take any nourishment; giving pain every moment to her mother and sisters, and forbidding all attempt at consolation from either. Her sensibility was potent enough!

From Chapter 29

This extract is taken from a conversation between the sisters Elinor and Marianne, shortly after Marianne has been rejected by Willoughby and informed that he is engaged to another woman. Elinor urges Marianne not to succumb to misery, and to take pride in reacting in a dignified manner to the news. The extract contains Marianne’s response.

“No, no,” cried Marianne, “misery such as mine has no pride. I care not who knows that I am wretched. The triumph of seeing me so may be open to all the world. Elinor, Elinor, they who suffer little may be proud and independent as they like—may resist insult, or return mortification—but I cannot. I must feel—I must be wretched—and they are welcome to enjoy the consciousness of it that can.”

From Chapter 37

For four months, Elinor has believed her beloved Edward Ferrars to be engaged to another woman. Elinor had promised to keep this information to herself, and Marianne has only just heard the news. Amazed that Elinor has been able to keep this secret so long, Marianne implies that Elinor is lacking in strong feeling. The following extract is Elinor’s response to this.

“I understand you.—You do not suppose that I have ever felt much.—For four months, Marianne, I have had all this hanging on my mind, without being at liberty to speak of it to a single creature; knowing that it would make you and my mother most unhappy whenever it were explained to you, yet unable to prepare you for it in the least.— It was told me,—it was in a manner forced on me by the very person herself, whose prior engagement ruined all my prospects; and told me, as I thought, with triumph.— This person’s suspicions, therefore, I have had to oppose, by endeavouring to appear indifferent where I have been most deeply interested;—and it has not been only once;—I have had her hopes and exultation to listen to again and again.— I have known myself to be divided from Edward for ever, without hearing one circumstance that could make me less desire the connection. […] — If you can think me capable of ever feeling—surely you may suppose that I have suffered NOW.

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This article is from the free online course:

Literature and Mental Health: Reading for Wellbeing

The University of Warwick

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