“Sense and Sensibility” by Jane Austen Research Paper

July 16, 2021 by Essay Writer

Updated: May 7th, 2020


Sense and Sensibility is one of the novels written by Austen, which focuses on the relationships between males and females and underlines their complexity due to different emotional values. Nonetheless, the primary goal of this essay is to analyze the differences and similarities between Edward Ferrars, Colonel Brandon, and John Willoughby, as they tend to exist due to different roles and intentions of the characters.

Nonetheless, the primary similarity is the fact that all of the characters lack common sense while expressing their emotions. Firstly, each character will be evaluated separately. After that, the primary differences and similarities between the characters will be discussed to determine the potential consequences of the presence of sense and sensibility in their lives. In the end, the conclusions are drawn to understand the overall image of the differences and similarities between the characters in the Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen.

Analysis of the Characters

Firstly, the personal traits and story of Ferrars have to be discovered to determine his intentions in the Sense and Sensibility. In this instance, it seems that Edwards Ferrars seems rather clumsy, as he is not able to act in accordance with his feelings. It seems that he is not able to comply with common sense and tend to lack strength and decisiveness in his actions.

In this instance, he is not able to propose to the woman he feels affection to, and he rose from the seat and walked to the window, apparently from not knowing not to do” (Austen 241). Nonetheless, he is able to explain his feelings to the Elinor and finds his happiness. In the end, all of his action are driven by his temper and the necessity to underline the sensible nature.

Furthermore, Willoughby is also one of the vital characters in the book since he contributes significantly to the development of the plot. On the contrary, he is portrayed and depicted as one of the romantic characters of the novel due to his ability to show his natural feelings. He is displayed, as a person, whose presence is highly appreciated in the society and among the other members of the community. In this instance, he is described as being “a very decent shot” (Austen 29). Moreover, he is thought to be “as good a kind fellow as ever lived” (Austen 29).

It could be said that it is the primary feature, which differentiates Willoughby from the other heroes of the novel, as it shows his selfish nature due to acting and taking into account his only interests. Nonetheless, this hero also has a tendency to devote his life to a wrong woman due to his inability to understand his feelings and evaluate the perspectives of relationship. Nonetheless, his behavior creates radical complications in the community, as his actions do not correspond with the logic or common sense.

Moreover, the actions of Colonel Brandon have to be evaluated, as he remains one of the main characters in the Sense and Sensibility. Colonel is discovered as a person, whose actions are highly valued in the society. “Such a noble man” are the exact words to describe the attitude towards him among the other members of the society (Austen 226).

Nonetheless, Colonel seems in control of the situation and tries to protect his family members during the duel. It remains evident that he does not make as many mistakes as the other characters since he acts in accordance with common sense. His actions remain rather logical and thought through compared to the other main characters. The lack of sense is only portrayed while he is trying to protect Eliza from being more seduced by the Willoughby, as he finds duel as one of the potential solutions to regain the justice.


Nonetheless, the primary difference lays in the behavior of the characters and their ability to control their temper and show particular emotions. In this instance, Colonel is the one, who is able to pay close attention and control his actions. He tries to protect the honor of his wife, as he devotes a significant amount of time to the people that he loves. It remains evident that he is in control of all of his actions and able to respond honorably to every situation.

As for the other characters, it seems that Ferrars is not able to show his feelings coherently and react in accordance with the logic. It is evident that his feelings are in control of his actions, as the mind loses the ability to react logically. “This overstretched sensibility naturally relaxes the mind,” Wollstonecraft claims (284). The existence of this feature is highly emphasized in the behavioral patterns of Ferrars.

Nonetheless, Ferras acts rather carefully, as he loses the ability to speak during the serious moments when his feelings have to be revealed. As for the actions by Willoughby, his actions are “driven on by the impetuosity of the moment” (More 299). He is not able to control his action due to his temper and romantic attitude, as he is able to seduce Eliza.


Nonetheless, the primary similarity lays in the fact that the actions of all the characters are driven by the desire to love and be loved, as they were unhappy. In this instance, all of the women have a tendency to remain unfortunate and hopeless, as “their happiness falls a victim to the excess of uncontrolled feelings” (More 297).

A similar situation also occurs with the male characters since they also lose control of their actions and common sense. They are the key drivers of the flow of the events and particular women’s behavior. In support of the fact that similar situation can occur to any individual is the desire of Colonel to react to the Willoughby’s action rapidly by underlining the necessity of duel. The ability of the women “to cherish sensibility of my nature” drives the men’s feelings and makes them dependent on females due to the lack of control of the mind (The Lady’s Magazine 299).

Additionally, the book Sense and Sensibility makes the reader believe in “sensibility more attractive than sense” (“From Miss Austen” 318). Nonetheless, it is evident that the features of the characters are exaggerated, but “her characters are more typical that usual” (“From Miss Austen” 318). In this instance, this nature of the characters is another similarity, as they act in the agreement with the typical behavioral patterns, which are actively accepted in the society.

Another similarity is the ability of all of the characters to reach a particular level of happiness at the end. Colonel devotes his life and soul to Marianne, and this marriage “restored his mind to animation” (Austen 330). Additionally, she was able to add “cheerfulness” to his life (Austen 330). In turn, Ferras marries Lucy, and this act emphasizes his self-esteem, as “he is proud of his conquest” (Austen 327).

Lastly, Willoughby convinces Elinor of being sorry for his past actions, and she underlines “the happiness of a man, who, to every advantage of person and talents, united a disposition naturally open and honest” (Austen 287). Nonetheless, she also thinks, “the world had made him extravagant” (Austen 287). In the end, all of the characters were able to overcome their temper and gain their logic.


In conclusion, it remains evident that all of the characters have a tendency to act in accordance with their temper without paying particular attention to common sense. It could be said that this feature is the primary similarity between the characters, as even the Colonel is not able to react normally to the actions of Willoughby due to his inability to control his anger. In turn, the sentiments have different influences on the other characters, as Willoughby seduces Eliza due to his romantic desires.

In turn, Ferrars loses his ability to speak due to the significance of the moment. Nonetheless, the sensibility is the driver for the actions. However, despite the lack of logic all the main characters are able to reach success in the relationship, as in the end, they are able to share their lives with the right women without any confusion in feelings. Finally, the portrayal of sensibility and its ability to outweigh common sense is highly presented in the behavior of all characters, as each of them was under the influence of his temper and emotions.

Works Cited

Austen, Jane. Sense and Sensibility. Hertfordshire: Wordsworth Editions Limited, 2000. Print.

“From Miss Austen.” Jane Austen: Sense and Sensibility. Ed. Claudia Johnson. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2002. 317-320. Print

More, Hannah. “From Sensibility: An Epistle to the Honorable Mrs. Boscaven (1782).” Jane Austen: Sense and Sensibility. Ed. Claudia Johnson. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2002. 291-295. Print.

The Lady’s Magazine. “The Enthusiasm of Sentiment: A Fragment (1798).” Jane Austen: Sense and Sensibility. Ed. Claudia Johnson. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2002. 299-300. Print.

Wollstonecraft, Mary. “From a Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792).” Jane Austen: Sense and Sensibility. Ed. Claudia Johnson. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2002. 284-290. Print.


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