Sense and Sensibility


Jane Austen

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Themes and Colors
Love and Marriage Theme Icon
Character, Sense, and Sensibility Theme Icon
Women in Society Theme Icon
Society and Strategy Theme Icon
Wealth, Class, and Greed Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Sense and Sensibility, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Love and Marriage

The plot of Sense and Sensibility revolves around marriage. The novel begins with Elinor and Marianne as unmarried but eligible young women and only concludes when both of them settle into marriages. Engagements, possible matches, and marriages are the main concern of most the novel’s characters and the subject of much of their conversation. Thus, love is also of central importance to the novel, as Marianne and Elinor fall in love and seek to marry…

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Character, Sense, and Sensibility

Both Austen’s characters and her narrator spend a great deal of time thinking about people’s character, trying to ascertain and distinguish someone’s particular nature. Austen’s omniscient narrator is generally able to pinpoint exactly what kind of person someone is with exact, often sharply ironic description. It is important for the novel to spend time introducing and describing characters before relating their actions, because—in the world of the novel—people’s inner character is essential for understanding their…

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Women in Society

Set in the late 1700s, Austen’s novel takes place in a world where there are limited roles and opportunities for women in society. Austen’s female characters do not inherit property and cannot have careers. Their futures and fortunes depend almost exclusively on the men they marry and they are expected to be dutiful, upstanding ladies of society. But, Austen depicts her female characters as thoughtful, clever, ambitious, and sometimes scheming women. Even while living within…

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Society and Strategy

Jane Austen is often described as a novelist of manners. Her works illustrate in great detail the workings, habits, customs, and manners of high English society in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. This is a society that is dictated by a rigid social and economic hierarchy. People are not simply rich or poor: rather, there are very specific gradations of wealth and status. Most of the characters in Sense and Sensibility (especially including…

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Wealth, Class, and Greed

Austen’s novel is a thorough portrait of English society, but only of a narrow slice of it—the privileged, wealthy upper class. All of the main characters in Sense and Sensibility are very well-off, but having plenty of money doesn’t seem to stop them from worrying about finances. They are generally very concerned with money, to the point of greed. The novel opens with the issue of the inheritance of Norland and questions of money, as…

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