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Free Study Guide-Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen-Free Book Notes
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The novel is set in London and its surrounding districts. In the first and the last part of the novel, the characters are shown living in the countryside, where they are content and expect happiness. The middle part of the novel is set in London, the city where the protagonists suffer anguish and disappointment.

The novel opens in Sussex. Henry Dashwood is living on his uncle's estate in Norland. However, after the death of Henry, Mrs. Dashwood and her three daughters move to Devonshire. Their cottage, overlooking the Barton Valley, is a "pleasant, fertile spot, well-wooded, and rich in pasture." In the congenial neighborhood of Barton Park, the Dashwoods spend many memorable days.

London is the setting in the second half of the novel, when Elinor and Marianne accompany Mrs. Jennings to her house in Portman Square. The Dashwood sisters spend a few months in the city, experiencing its hectic life and encountering the mercenary attitude of its inhabitants.

Towards the end of the novel, the Dashwood sisters again accompany Mrs. Jennings, this time to Cleveland, to the house of the Palmers, which is a "spacious, modern-built house, situated on a sloping lawn," with "open shrubbery and close wood-walk; a road of smooth gravel winding round a plantation."

The final chapter shows the protagonists settling down in Delaford, Dorsetshire. Elinor marries Edward and moves to Delaford. Marianne marries her long time admirer, Colonel Brandon, and sets up house in the Delaford mansion. Mrs. Dashwood makes trips to Delaford from Barton.


Major Characters

Elinor Dashwood

The eldest of the Dashwood sisters. She is affectionate, pragmatic and prudent.

Marianne Dashwood

The second child of Mrs. Dashwood. She is charming and clever, but impulsive.

Mrs. Dashwood

The doting mother of Elinor, Marianne, and Margaret. She is kind but impressionable.

Edward Ferrars

The eldest son of Mrs. Ferrars. He is educated and cultured, but lacks conviction. He is actually in love with Elinor, but he exhibits loyalty to Lucy Steele, although she is not worthy of him.


A dashing young man. He wins Marianne's heart through his charming manners and persuasive talk.

Mrs. Jennings

An old lady who delights in matchmaking and in making jokes at the expense of others. However, she is essentially generous. She is the mother of Lady Middleton and Charlotte Palmer.

Colonel Brandon

A quiet and sensible landowner. He is devotedly in love with Marianne.

Minor Characters

Henry Dashwood

The father of John, Elinor, Marianne, and Margaret. He dies at the opening of the novel.

John Dashwood

The elder half-brother of Elinor, Marianne, and Margaret. He is controlled by his wife, Fanny, and by his love for money.

Fanny Dashwood

The cunning and snobbish wife of John Dashwood. She is possessive and wants the power that wealth brings.

Harry Dashwood

The son of John and Fanny Dashwood. He is the heir to the Norland Estate.

Margaret Dashwood

The youngest of the Dashwood sisters. She is good-humored, kind, and romantic.

Mrs. Ferrars

The mother of Fanny, Edward, and Robert. She is wealthy but bad-tempered.

Robert Ferrars

The younger brother of Edward. He is a dandy who lacks taste and refinement.

Sir John Middleton

The hospitable landlord of Barton cottage. He is kind and loves meeting people.

Lady Middleton

The snobbish wife of John Middleton. She is cold and reserved. Her world revolves around her children.

Mr. Palmer

An intelligent man, who is somewhat disdainful of people who are inferior to him in intelligence.

Mrs. Charlotte Palmer

The kind and generous, but foolish, daughter of Mrs. Jennings. She is adequately gentle and cordial.

Lucy Steele

The younger of the Steele sisters. She is attractive in appearance but essentially selfish. She lacks refinement and constantly betrays a desire to befriend the rich.

Miss Steele

Anne Steele, the thirty year old spinster, who lacks sense and prudence.

Mrs. Smith

Willoughby's guardian. She disinherits him when he declines to marry Eliza Williams.

Sophia Grey

Miss Grey, the fashionable and wealthy girl who marries Willoughby.

Eliza Brandon

The ward and niece of Colonel Brandon's father. She loves the Colonel, but marries his brother. (She is long dead when the novel begins.)

Eliza Williams

The illegitimate daughter of Eliza Brandon. She is Colonel Brandon's ward. She is seduced by Willoughby.

Miss Morton

A wealthy girl favored by Mrs. Ferrars.

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