The second daughter of Mrs. Dashwood and Henry Dashwood. Marianne's is very spontaneous and has romantic idealism. This all leads her to fall in love with the John Willoughby when he romantically rescues her early on in the novel. Willoughby is the character that in the end betrays her by marrying someone else, although it seemed as though their love was true. Marianne finally recognizes her misjudgment of him and eventually marries her long-standing admirer, Colonel Brandon. Marianne is stubborn, opinionated, flaunted, open, romantic, passionate and spontaneous.
"She was sensible and clever; but eager in every thing; her sorrows, her joys, could have no moderation. She was generous, amiable, interesting: she was everything but prudent." (6; Vol 1 Chapter 1)
The eldest daughter of Mrs. Dashwood and Henry Dashwood, sister of Marianne and Margaret and the most sensible of the Dashwoods. She is the advice giver to her mother and governs her emotions very well. She is the epitome of propriety, reason, sense, introversion, and selflessness. She falls in love with Edward Ferrars, but when she finds out he has been engaged she loses all hope. Although a match with Colonel Brandon seems more likely, she eventually marries Ferrars.
"Elinor, their eldest daughter whose advice was so effectual, possessed a strength of understanding, and a coolness of judgement, which qualified her, though only nineteen, to be counsellor of her mother...She had an excellent heart; - her disposition was affectionate, and her feelings were strong; but she knew how to govern them." (5-6; Vol 1 Chapter 1)
Is a retired officer who eventually falls in love with Marianne Dashwood. Throughout the novel Colonel Brandon is helpful toward the Dashwood family and becomes a friend of Elinor's. Marianne realizes that Colonel Brandon is a perfect match for herself and they marry. His marriage to Marianne is what is referred to as a companionate marriage. Colonel Brandon is honorable, kind, gentlemanly, reliable, older, and held back in his actions. He has a moderate wealth that is able to carry him throughout the novel.
"He was silent and grave. His appearance however was not unpleasing, in spite of his being in the opinion of Marianne and Margaret an absolute old bachelor, for he was on the wrong side of five and thirty; but though his face was not handsome his countenence was sensible, and his address was particularly gentlemanlike." (27; Vol 1, Chapter 7)
Is the mother of Marianne,Margaret,and Elinor Dashwood and the second wife of Henry Dashwood. Mrs. Dashwood has no fortune of her own and is reliant on the good fortune and kindness of others throughout the novel. Her wish in life is to have her daughters married to men whom they can be happy with. Both Marianne and Mrs. Dashwood have romantic notions and high expectations in life.
"Mrs. Dashwood took pains to get aquainted with him [Edward]. Her manners were attaching and soon banished his reserve. She speedily comprehended his merits." (13; Vol 1, Chapter 3)
Brother to the Dashwood familty, John is a very weak man who considers the money and the property Norland Park he inherited soley his and does not share his good fortune with his family. His wife Fanny suggests that he leaves his mother and sisters with very little money which he follows and does not seem to care about their welfare, instead preferring to leave the money to his own son. He appears again later in the novel and encourages the partnership he sees in Elinor and Colonel Brandon due to his guilt.
"He was not an ill-disposed young man, unless to be rather cold hearted, and rather selfish, is to be ill-disposed: but he was, in general, well respected; for he conducted himself with propriety in the discharge of his ordinary duties. Had he married a more amiable woman, he might even have been more amiable himself." (4-5; Vol 1, Chapter 1)
Is Mrs. Jennings' cousin and is a very selfish and insecure woman who takes advantage of Edward to gain status in life. She was secretly engaged to Edward Ferrars for four years but marries his brother, Robert, once Edward is disinherited.
"Lucy was naturally clever, her remarks were often just and amusing...but her powers had recieved no aid from education, she was ignorant and illiterate, and her deficiency of all mental improvement...Elinor saw, and pitied her." (96; Vol 1, Chapter 22)
Is the older brother of Fanny Dashwood and Robert Ferrars who develops a close relationship with Elinor while staying at Norland Park. During that time Edward is secretly engaged to Lucy Steele. Later, Edward's relationship with Lucy Steele is revealed and he is freed from the four-year secret engagement after he looses his fortune. Lucy marries his brother Robert while Edward ends up with Elinor. He is sensible and friendly, and represents the realism points of view in the novel.
"He was not handsome, and his manners required intimacy to make them pleasing. He was too diffident to do justice to himself; but when his natural shyness was overcome, his behavior gave every indication of an open affectionate heart." (12; Vol 1, Chapter 3)
A young man who wins Marianne Dashwood's heart after saving her but then betrays her trust and marries Miss Sophia Gray for her money. He represents many of the romantic aspects of the novel.
"His manly beauty and more than common gracefulness were instantly the theme of general admiration...His person and air were equal to what her [Marianne's] fancy had ever drawn for the hero of a favorite story...Every circumstance blonging to him was interesting." (33; Vol 1, Chapter 9)
A wealthy gentleman who dies at the beginning of the story. His estate doesn’t allow for him to leave anything to his second wife or children. Henry asks John, his son by his first wife, to ensure the financial security of his second wife and their three daughters.
"The old Gentleman died: his will was read, and like almost every other will, gave as much disappointment as pleasure. He was neither so unjust, nor so ungrateful, as to leave his estate from his nephew; - but he left it to him on such terms as destroyed half the value of the bequest." (3-4; Vol 1, Chapter 1)
Is the wife of John Dashwood, and sister to Edward and Robert Ferrars. She can be described as vain, selfish, and snobbish. She is very harsh to her husband's half-sisters and stepmother, especially since she fears her brother Edward might be attached to Elinor.
"Mrs. John Dashwood did not at all approve of what her husband intended to do for his sisters...what possible claim could the Miss Dashwoods, who were related to him only by half blood, which she considered as no relationship at all, have on his generosity to so large an amount." (7; Vol 1 Chapter 1)
Sir John Middleton
Is a distant relative of Mrs. Dashwood who, after the death of Henry Dashwood, invites her and her three daughters to live in a cottage on his property. He likes to throw frequent parties, picnics, and other social gatherings to bring together the young people of their village. He and his mother-in-law, Mrs. Jennings, enjoy gossiping.
"Sir John Middleton was a good looking man about forty...His countenence was thoughouly good-humoured; and his manners were as friendly as the style of his letter." (23; Vol 1 Chapter 6)
Is the mother to Lady Middleton and Charlotte Palmer. She is a widow who has married off all her children, she spends most of her time visiting her daughters and their families, especially the Middletons. She and her son-in-law, Sir John Middleton, enjoy playing matchmakers with the young people around them.
"Mrs. Jennings, Lady Middleton's mother, was a good-humoured, merry, fat, elderly woman, who talked a great deal, seemed very happy, and rather vulgar. She was full of jokes and laughter, and before dinner was over had said many witty things on the subject of lovers and husbands." (26; Vol 1, Chapter 7)
Austen, Jane. Sense and Sensibility. New York: Barnes and Noble Classics, 2003.