Monday, August 15, 2011

Recent Read; "Sense and Sensibility" by Jane Austen

Sense and Sensibility has to be one of the best examples of a wonderful book that has a wonderful movie to go along with it. The movie is really, really close to being just as good or better than the book. As I read Austen's novel this time, I am astounded at Emma Thompson's skill in creating her Oscar-winning screenplay that augments the story while retaining as much Austen as possible. Really, besides dropping a few minor characters, the only big difference between the book and the movie is the movie doesn't have Willoughby show up when Marianne is ill. Both the book and the movie are so beautiful!

A couple meaningful themes jumped out at me this time as I read Sense and Sensibility this time. First, Edward and Willoughby really are true foils. For a long time I just thought of them as opposites, but while their personalities are very different (Edward is mild and quiet, Willoughby is gregarious but selfish), their situations in the story are almost the same. Both are breaking Dashwood girls' hearts because of a stupid previous relationship. Just Edward's past is justifiable and Willoughby's is very blameable. Then when their past blows up in their face, they both have the freedom to choose their own actions. Edward chooses to remain honorable (by keeping his engagement with Lucy as long as she wants it) and Willoughby is a jerk to everyone (he refuses to marry Eliza and ditches Marianne so he can marry someone else for money).

Another theme that Austen really highlights in the book is the idea of second love. Marianne at the beginning doesn't believe love can happen to you twice. By the end, she obviously changes her mind. The interesting thing is that all of the heroes and heroines in the story--Edward, Colonel Brandon, and Marianne--become happy on a second love, while Elinor marries and is happy with her first. And we're okay with it because, as the sensible one, we feel like she deserves it.

Finally, I love how Austen explores the relationship between the two sisters. At first they are so different, but their struggles help them understand one another better and make them more and more alike.

This was one of the most satisfying re-reads that I've had in a long time! And I can't believe it was Austen's first novel--it's so good!

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