Tag Archives: Elinor Dashwood

Sense And Sensibility Character Review: Lucy Steele

*Warning: This post contains spoilers in regards to the narrative and characters from the novel Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. Read at your own risk if you have not read the book or seen any of the adaptations.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Sense and Sensibility to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

Any writer worth their salt will tell you that conflict is one of the key components of any story, regardless of genre to or specific narrative. When written well, conflict is what keeps the reader/audience engaged. In the romance genre, conflict usually comes by way of something or someone who is keeping the would be lovers apart.

In Sense And Sensibility, that someone is Lucy Steele. The would be lovers she is keeping apart is Edward Ferrars and Elinor Dashwood. Lucy is introduced to Elinor and the audience about a third of the way into the story. Lucy is one of two sisters, who is related to the distant cousin who is leasing the Dashwoods a cottage on his property after the death of their father and husband.

Lucy has a secret and Elinor is the one she chooses to share her secret with. Lucy is secretly engaged. Her future husband is Edward Ferrars, a former pupil of her uncle. The engagement is a secret because of the status of Edward’s family. While Lucy tells Elinor of her secret engagement, only Elinor and the reader/audience is aware of the spark between Elinor and Edward.

To sum it up: In using Lucy to create a wedge between Edward and Elinor, Austen is upping the ante on the reader/audience. She is keeping them on the edge of the seat and not (at least yet anyway), answering the will they or won’t they question when it comes to Elinor and Edward. A good writer knows when and where to introduce conflict and if written properly, the conflict will keep the reader/audience going to the very end.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Character Review, Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility, Uncategorized

Sense And Sensibility Character Review: Mrs. Jennings

*Warning: This post contains spoilers in regards to the narrative and characters from the novel Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. Read at your own risk if you have not read the book or seen any of the adaptations.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Sense and Sensibility to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

Every author, regardless of genre, relies on a stable of character tropes when creating the characters that inhabit the world of their stories. One of the familiar character tropes that readers of Jane Austen will recognize is the character that induces eye rolling and internal groaning. This character for the most part, is female, older and though she has good intentions, sometimes runs her mouth off without thinking.

In Sense And Sensibility, this character is Mrs. Jennings. Mrs. Jennings is a wealthy widow who is distantly related via marriage to the novel’s heroines, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood. With both of her daughters married, Mrs. Jennings is more than happy to play matchmaker for Elinor and Marianne. The problem is that her advice/attention is unwanted by the girls. Mrs. Jennings also lacks the self awareness that she sometimes has, well, foot in mouth disease.

To sum it up: While Mrs. Jennings is peripheral character, she in her own way, contributes to the narrative. As writers, we have to remember that every character plays a role in the narrative, whether they are central to the plot or they come and go as needed. The peripheral characters may not be front and center, but they still as important as the main characters. We cannot forget them or marginalize them, for if we do that, the story loses some it’s humanity and it’s color. That humanity and color is vital to the narrative, otherwise it will be just another story with another set of characters.

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Character Review, Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility

Sense And Sensibility Character Review: John And Fanny Dashwood

*Warning: This post contains spoilers in regards to the narrative and characters from the novel Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. Read at your own risk if you have not read the book or seen any of the adaptations.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Sense and Sensibility to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

We need money to survive, that is a fact of life. Money buys us a roof over our heads, fresh food and clean clothing. But money also has a corrupting influence. It can blind us to the suffering of others and can make us forget that the person next to us is a human being.

If nothing can be said about Jane Austen, one can say that she used her characters to make statements about the world she lived in (as every writer does). John and Fanny Dashwood are the half-brother and sister-in-law to Elinor and Marianne Dashwood, the heroines of Sense And Sensibility. John has the luck of the draw, he is the first-born son and automatically inherits Norland, the Dashwood family estate upon the death of his father. That means that his stepmother and half sisters will have to find another place to call home.

Fanny is a corrupting influence on her husband. While John is more than ready to give his sisters and stepmother the income promised to them in his father’s will, Fanny convinces him to reduce the amount drastically. She is also an out-and-out snob, making it clear to Mrs. Dashwood early in the novel that the budding romance between Elinor and her brother Edward will have to be squashed. If Sense And Sensibility has a villain, these two are it.

To sum it up: When a writer wishes to make a statement, they have one of two choices. They can hit the reader over the head, which might be effective, but it also might not be. Or, the writer could find a way to weave their statement into the narrative and characters,  making the statement not only more effective and memorable in the minds of the readers.

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Character Review, Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility

Sense and Sensibility Character Review: Edward Ferrars

*Warning: This post contains spoilers in regards to the narrative and characters from the novel Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. Read at your own risk if you have not read the book or seen any of the adaptations.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Sense and Sensibility to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

One of the more common narratives that has been used since the beginning of storytelling is the needs and wants of the individual versus the needs and wants of those around the individual. This is the struggle of the character of Edward Ferrars.

Edward is the oldest son from a wealthy family. He is to inherit quite a tidy sum from his mother upon her passing. Both his mother and sister (who is sister in law to Elinor Dashwood) have grand plans for Edward, but Edward wants a quieter life.

The reader meets Edward after Mr. and Mrs. John Dashwood when he is invited to Norland, the ancestral estate of the Dashwoods, which has come into John Dashwood’s possession after the death of his father.  Mr. Dashwood’s stepmother and younger half sisters will soon be displaced from Norland and will have to find a new home. But that doesn’t stop a spark from lighting between Elinor and Edward.

The problem with this spark is that it stands in the way of Edward marrying a woman whom they would deem to be a more appropriate wife. After Mrs. Dashwood and her daughters leave Norland, Edward visits them in their new home at Barton cottage, but something about him seems elusive, as if he is hiding something.  Quiet, noble and honorable, Edward has a secret that may forever sever his ties with Elinor and force him to marry a woman for the sake of marriage and not for love.

To sum it up: While some Jane Austen fans have griped about Edward Ferrars, I happen to think that he is one of her most underrated male leads. While he starts off quietly acquiescing to his mother and sister, fate will force him to make a choice between love and duty, between his needs and the needs of those around him.

When a writer chooses this narrative of love vs. duty, their main goal is to create tension and to force the character to ask difficult questions. Without that tension and those difficult questions, it will be hard for the reader to get involved with the narrative and want to stay with the character throughout the story. The key is both the tension and the questions and if done right, the reader will stay glued to the edge of their seat until the final page.

1 Comment

Filed under Books, Character Review, Jane Austen, Writing

Sense and Sensibility Character Review: Marianne Dashwood

*Warning: This post contains spoilers in regards to the narrative and characters from the novel Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. Read at your own risk if you have not read the book or seen any of the adaptations.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Sense and Sensibility to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

When we are young, some of us are so certain in our beliefs that it takes an act of G-d to show us otherwise. In Sense and Sensibility, Marianne Dashwood is only sixteen when the book starts. She has just lost her father and is soon to lose her home to her older half-brother and his wife. She is romantic, dreamy-eyed and so certain of everything she is thinking and feeling. That will soon change.

Forced to relocate to a new and smaller home with her mother and sisters, Marianne meets two different men: the, young, dashing and romantic Mr. Willoughby and the seemingly old, austere and silent Colonel Brandon. Marianne’s meet cute with Mr. Willoughby is straight out of a fairy tale: after twisting her ankle on the wet grass, Mr. Willoughby carries Marianne home. It looks like Marianne may have found her own version of Prince Charming, but Mr. Willoughby is not all he seems to be.

Colonel Brandon, on the other hand, is not young, dashing or romantic. He is 35 (which always seems old when your sixteen), according Marianne probably wears flannel waist coats and does not match the romantic fantasies that have colored her view of the world. When Mr. Willoughby break’s Marianne’s heart by abruptly disappearing without an explanation, this sets on her a path to realize that maybe the beliefs she once held near and dear were not always correct.

To sum it up: Sometimes, regardless of our age, we have to learn things the hard way. There is no other way to learn. But, on the other hand, when we are young and forced to learn the hard way, it’s calling growing up. And growing up is never easy. As writers, when we are creating characters in the mold of Marianne Dashwood, I believe that we have to have to end in mind. When we are sending this character on this journey, what will be the end result? Will they be wiser, smarter, more flexible, bitter, angry, etc.?  The journey is taxing on both the writer and the character. But, if done right, the reader will remember the learning experience and perhaps come to learn a bit more about life along the way.

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Character Review, Fairy Tales, Jane Austen, Life, Sense and Sensibility

Sense And Sensibility Character Review: Elinor Dashwood

*Warning: This post contains spoilers in regards to the narrative and characters from the novel Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. Read at your own risk if you have not read the book or seen any of the adaptations.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Sense and Sensibility to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

Life sometimes hands us lemons. We have two choices when we receive the figurative lemon. We can either get emotional or we can be rational and figure out what needs to be done in spite of receiving that lemon. In Sense and Sensibility, Elinor Dashwood is given a lemon by life.

Born into a wealthy, landowning family, her world is uprooted when her father dies. Her older half-brother, who was their father’s only son and heir takes what is rightfully his. That means that Elinor, her sisters and her now widowed mother must find another place to live. On top of that, her sister-in-law convinces her husband the reduce the income left to the girls and their mother by her late father.

Forced out of the only home they have ever known, Elinor faces her new reality with aplomb, while her mother and sisters are not quite ready to face the fact that their lives are about to change. She also falls for Edward Ferrars, the younger brother of her sister-in-law. Edward seems to respond with equal affection, but the lemon that life has thrown her way is also giving her mixed signals about Edward.

However, there is a downside to the rationality and calm when dealing with the lemon. Human beings are emotional creatures, when we are unable to let out our feelings, especially when dealing with stress or loss, it can take a toll on us.

To sum it up: On the surface, Elinor is a vision of serenity and doing what needs to be done. But underneath that calm are emotions that have been pushed aside and at some point, must be released. In Sense and Sensibility, Elinor represents duty, thinking rationally and basically just doing what needs to be done. Austen asked the question, through Elinor, is thinking rationally and using logic the best way to deal with a tough situation? Or is it better to be emotional and wear your heart on your sleeve like Elinor’s younger sister Marianne (who shall be discussed next week)?

Good writing makes a reader think. It makes them ask questions, not just about the narrative and character choices the writer made, but also about how those questions can be applied to a larger canvas. Through those questions, the reader becomes involved with the story and will not put the book down until the last page has been read.

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Character Review, Feminism, Jane Austen, Life, Sense and Sensibility

Poldark Character Review: Dr. Dwight Enys

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about Poldark, both the books and the television series. Read at your own risk.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using Winston Graham’s series of novels, Poldark and the subsequent television series to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

In the previous posts, I wrote about the title character, Ross Poldark , his wife, Demelza, Ross’s cousin, Francis, Francis’s wife, Elizabeth, Elizabeth’s second husband, George Warleggan and Ross’s cousin, Verity Blamey. Today’s post will focus on Ross’s best friend, Dr. Dwight Enys.

In any good story, the hero or heroine needs another character to create an emotional balance.  It could be a romantic partner or it could be a close friend. In the world of Poldark, the character of Dr. Dwight Enys creates that balance. Dwight is the Oscar to Ross’s Felix. A doctor by profession, he could have easily chosen to practice among the well heeled ton of London or Bath. Instead he chose to live and work in Cornwall, an area where the majority of the residents are far from wealthy. Where Ross is temperamental and impulsive,  Dwight is practical and level headed. A generous soul, Dwight is known to treat patients for free who unable to pay. But no one is perfect, not even Dwight.

His affair with a miners wife that ended tragically  in both book 2 and series 1 allowed the specter of guilt and doubt to enter his life. That guilt and doubt plagued him until he met Caroline Penvenen, the heiress who he would later marry. Torn between his job and his heart in book 4 and series 2, Dwight nearly walks away from Caroline.

 

The thing that strikes me about Dwight is that in a universe where characters are temperamental, emotional and dramatic, Dwight is the opposite. He creates a balance that allows the characters on the other side of the emotional spectrum to be out there emotionally while he remains calm and collected.

To sum it up: There has to be a balance on the emotional spectrum when it comes to characters. For every Marianne Dashwood, there has to be an Elinor Dashwood. While one character rages on and explodes, the other is sitting there quietly, responding with a cool and level head. In the world of Poldark, Ross is Marianne and Dwight is Elinor. Without that contrast, the reader may find the characters to be monotone, predictable and the book unreadable. The worst thing a writer wants to hear is the p word. It has sounded the death knell for the many books that have been returned to the library or the bookstore unfinished and un-liked.

1 Comment

Filed under Books, Character Review, Jane Austen, Poldark, Television, Writing

The Dashwood Sisters’ Secrets of Love Book Review

Sense and Sensibility was Jane Austen’s first mature completed novel and her first published novel. Published in 1811, Sense and Sensibility is the story of the Dashwood Sisters. Elinor is practical and level-headed. Marianne is romantic and spontaneous. The death of their father and the loss of their home to their older half-brother forces the sisters into a new life and new relationships.

In 2006, author Rosie Rushton added her name to the long list of writers who have attempted to re-write Austen’s novels. In The Dashwood Sisters’ Secrets of Love, The Dashwood Sisters- practical Ellie, romantic Abby and tomboy Georgie have been hit by a one-two punch. First their parents divorce and their father marries a woman that neither his daughters or his ex-wife care for. Then their father dies, revealing not only how heavily in debt he was, but also that the house that the Dashwoods have called home for generations, now belongs to the new Mrs. Dashwood.

Moving from Sussex to Norfolk is a big change for everyone. Abby is mourning the social life she left behind. Ellie has feelings for Blake, her stepmother’s nephew who has a girlfriend. Georgie is beginning to see a different reaction from the boys around her. The fate of these girls has forever changed, but how will it change them?

The problem with Austen re-boots is that some writers are able to keep Austen’s voice and characters while putting a new spin on an old favorite. Ms. Rushton is not one of them. While she was able to keep the characterizations and the general narrative intact, she lost the ramped up tension that keeps the reader engaged in Sense And Sensibility.

Do I recommend it? Not really.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review, Books, Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility

Scents and Sensibility (2011) Vs From Prada to Nada (2011)

2011 gave us two very different modern reboots of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. Both very interesting movies, trying to put Sense and Sensibility in a different light.

Scents and Sensibility (2011)

Cast: Elinor Dashwood (Ashley Williams) and Marianne Dashwood (Marla Sokoloff)

  • Pro’s: It is very faithful to the novel, with the exception of a few modern changes.
  • Con’s: It screams Hallmark movie, which is fine if you enjoy that type of movie. It’s just a little bland for my taste.

From Prada to Nada (2011)

Cast: Nora Dominguez (Camille Belle) and Mary Dominguez (Alexa PenaVega)

  • Pro’s: This adaptation is very close to the book, again with some modern changes. I also like that there is an ethnic, multi-lingual flavor to this movie.
  • Con’s: None.

And the winner is…. From Prada to Nada. But that is my opinion. Maybe you prefer Scents and Sensibility.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Jane Austen, Movie Review, Movies, Sense and Sensibility

Sense And Sensibility 1995 Vs Sense And Sensibility 2008

Sense and Sensibility was Jane Austen’s first published novel. Writing under the pseudonym of “a lady”, Sense and Sensibility is the story of two sisters, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood. When their father passes away, their elder brother inherits the family estate, Norland Park. Knowing that Norland Park is no longer their home, Elinor and Marianne, with their mother and younger sister Margaret are forced to find a new home and make a new life elsewhere.

As I did with the other novels, I’m going to compare and contrast the most recent adaptations.

1995

Cast: Elinor (Emma Thompson), Marianne (Kate Winslet), Colonel Brandon (Alan Rickman), Edward Ferrars (Hugh Grant) and John Willoughby (Greg Wise) .

  • Pro’s: Directed by Ang Lee, with a screenplay by Emma Thompson, the 1995 movie retains Austen’s voice as a writer.  It is a charming movie, for both the general movie fan and the ardent Janeite. Greg Wise looks awful good in breeches.
  • Cons: Let’s face it, as good as an actress and a screenwriter Emma Thompson is, she was far from 19 when this movie was made.  Elinor is still a teenager, regardless of the actress stepping into her shoes.

2008

Cast: Elinor (Hattie Morahan), Marianne (Charity Wakefield), Colonel Brandon (David Morrisey), Edward Ferrars (Dan Stevens)  and John Willoughby (Dominic Cooper).

  • Pro’s: With a screenplay written by Andrew Davies and the younger characters played by a whose who of  young British actors, this adaptation has a lot going for it. Davies fleshes out secondary story lines that that makes the primary story line vibrant and alive.  I also like is that the cast is age appropriate.
  • Con’s: None.

And the winner is….. I can’t decide.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility