Sense and Sensibility is an elegant story that portrays the advantages of the first over the second, as manifested between two sisters of opposing temperaments, one of whom loves wisely and the other passionately. Set in London and its surrounding countryside, the story relates how Elinor, the eldest of Mrs. Dashwood's daughters, and Marianne, the second eldest, share in the agony of tragic love. In the opening of the book, Mrs. Dashwood and her three daughters are forced to move to a new and smaller abode, as her husband's death left her fairly unwealthy.
During their transition, the Dashwood's stayed with her step-son and his wife, Mr. and Mrs. John Dashwood. It is there where Elinor, practical and conventional, met and fell in love with Edward Ferrars, Mrs. John Dashwood's brother. One rainy morning, after being settled in their new cottage at Barton, Marianne, emotional and sentimental, was brought home from her walk with a sprained ankle by Willoughby, a dashing young man in his mid-twenties. Marianne immediately fell for Willoughby and he for her and in the following days and weeks he was invariably found at Barton. Another new friend to the family, Colonel Brandon watched the formation of this couple with sadness as he too, had fallen in love with Marianne.
To her distress, while on an extended trip to London with friend and neighbor, Mrs. Jennings, Marianne suffered a broken heart upon hearing that Willoughby was concerned for his financial well-being and therefore had bestowed his affections elsewhere. A few months prior to the trip, Elinor learned that Edward was privately engaged to another woman, Lucy, but was bound to secrecy by this woman herself, who was not aware of Elinor's attachment to him. So while trying in earnest to suppress her own feelings, Elinor comforted those of her distraught sister.
They remained in London a few months, and when Marianne's emotions overwhelmed her to the point of indisposition, they considered it best to return home early. On the way home to Barton, Elinor, Marianne, and Mrs. Jennings, escorted by Colonel Brandon, made a short stop at Cleveland. There, Marianne regressed and became quite ill and at the advice of a doctor, was confined to her bed. Mrs. Dashwood was immediately summoned at the request of Elinor, who could no longer stand alone under the pressure of Marianne's pain compounded with her own. To her astonishment, while Elinor anxiously sat awaiting her mother's arrival, who should come to the door but Willoughby, the scoundrel who had left her sister for someone else. He had come to profess his tremendous guilt in the horrible thing he had done to Marianne and to ask for as much forgiveness as they were willing to grant him. This act of courtesy softened the hearts of both Marianne, who had already forgiven him, and Elinor.
Upon the arrival of Mrs. Dashwood at Cleveland, Marianne quickly grew strong again and they were soon able to make their way back to Barton. As...