Sense and Sensibility
In the novel Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen displays the division between "sense" and "sensibility". Austen wrote this novel around the turn of the eighteenth century, on the cusp between two cultural movements: Classicism and Romanticism. Elinor represents the characteristics associated with eighteenth-century neo-classicism, including rationality, insight, judgment, moderation, and balance. She never loses sight of propriety, economic practicalities, and perspective, as when she reminds Marianne that their mother would not be able to afford a pet horse or that it is inappropriate for her to go alone with Willoughby to Allenham. In contrast, Marianne represents the qualities associated with the emerging "cult of sensibility," embracing romance, imagination, idealism, excess, and a dedication to the beauty of nature: Marianne weeps dramatically when her family must depart from "dear, dear Norland" and willingly offers a lock of her hair to her lover.
Elinor, age nineteen, is described as having a "strength of understanding" and "coolness of judgment", as well as the ability to govern and control her feelings. She modestly states that she "greatly esteems" (pg.13, vol. 1, chpt.IV) Edward Ferrars, a remark typical of her rational, sensible attitude. In contrast, her younger sister Marianne, age seventeen, longs for a man with taste, grace, spirit, and fire in his eyes, and considers her sister cold-hearted in her calm and tempered regard for Edward Ferrars.
The sensibility of Marianne manifests itself in her excessive mourning over the death of her father, in contrast to Elinor's more silent grief. Not only is she overcome by sadness at the loss of first Old Mr. Dashwood and then Henry, but she then carries on dramatically about having to leave Norland and move to a smaller cottage. Before departing, Marianne wanders the grounds of Norland uttering: "Dear, dear Norland... Oh! happy house... And you, ye well-known...