Elinor Dashwood is my favourite Austen heroine and each time I read Sense and Sensibility I discover something new about her. Austen was possessed of what Elizabeth Jenkins refers to as 'the occult power of creating human personality - the rarest form of literary genius.' Depth and nuance of character which may not be apparent on first reading an Austen novel are revealed upon re-reading.
Have you read Sense and Sensibility? It is a clever novel. They were full of it at Althorpe, and although it ends stupidly I was much amused by it. Letter from Lady Bessborough to Lord Granville Leveson-Gower, 1811
Surprisingly, Elizabeth Jenkins was not fond of Elinor. She describes her as 'too rational.' I would argue the Elinor is the only character who keeps it together and retains a sense of humour despite almost unbearable provocation. Marianne falls to pieces when she is abandoned by Willoughby and it is Elinor who supports her while she is simultaneously aware that the man she loves is secretly engaged to the loathsome Lucy Steele who never misses an opportunity to remind her.
Yet when Marianne goes into raptures about autumn leaves, Elinor can dryly remark. 'It is not everyone who shares your passion for dead leaves.' When Lady Middleton's noisy, spoilt children pull their mother and damage her clothes, Elinor remarks that she 'never thinks of tame and quiet children with any abhorrence.'
Whether the novel ends 'stupidly' depends I suppose on your opinion of Edward Ferrars. I still find him a bit of a sap and think perhaps Colonel Brandon would have been a better match for Elinor.
I know you all have busy reading schedules but if anyone gets the time to re-read S&S this year I'd love to know your thoughts!