Comment on the characters and behaviour of Edward Ferrars and John Willoughby in "Sense and Sensibility"

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Comment on the characters and behaviour of Edward Ferrars and John Willoughby in “Sense and Sensibility”

In the novel “Sense and Sensibility” the two characters Edward Ferrars and John Willoughby are foils. Jane Austen gives each three options in marriage – a previous attachment, Eliza Williams and Lucy Steele< a financially advantageous offer, Miss Grey and Miss Morton, and a genuine attachment, Marianne and Elinor. Jane Austen depicts their characters through their behaviour in this situation and others.

Elinor’s views of the characters Edward Ferrars and John Willoughby change a lot throughout the novel. At first Willoughby or “Marianne’s preserver” as Margaret names he seems like a handsome charming young man: “his person, which was uncommonly handsome, received additional charms from his voice and expression.

Edward, on the other hand, is not handsome and is not an archetypal knight in shining armour. He is quite and unobtrusive which leads the family, particularly Mrs. Dashwood to like him as they are in mooning “he did not disturb the wretchedness of her mind by ill-timed conversation.”

The family’s liking towards Willoughby increases, Marianne in particular as they are so alike: “their taste was strikingly alike. The same books the same passages were idolized by each.” Elinor likes Willoughby but is a little uncomfortable as she feels he is rash and she doubts his veracity: “I love Willoughby, sincerely love him; and suspicion of his integrity cannot be more painful to yourself than to me.”, and throughout the book Jane Austen leads the reader to trust Elinor’s judgement. However when Elinor hears Willoughby call Marianne by her first name she puts her doubts aside because in the Georgian era men did not call women by their first names.

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Elinor’s high expectations of Edward are dashed as the novel progresses and she says “Edward seemed a second Willoughby.” Edward gave Elinor false impressions as Willoughby did to Marianne. Edward is redeemed as he behaves honourably to Lucy Steele whereas Willoughby deserts both Marianne and Colonel Brandon’s ward, Eliza Williams, to marry for money.

Willoughby ends up unhappy and to his relief less of a villain in the Dashwood’s minds after his visit to Cleveland. Edward on the other hand lives happily with Elinor: “...she found in Elinor and her husband.., one of the happiest couple in the ...

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