Exploring the relationships shown in the 1995 film, “Sense and Sensibility”.
An interesting message of this movie was the existence of love, and yet how that was tempered by money, status, and circumstance. From the two main characters and their loves to the smaller characters of Colonel Brandon’s former love. There was this web of romance between the various characters of the story and the audience watched as this love got pulled back and forth and even torn in places in order to satisfy demands and laws of society. Take for instance the first scene- The death of Mr. Dashwood- who seemed to care deeply for his daughters and wife, yet was unable to provide for them truly in the end due to the inheritance laws of Britain. Instead, his house was left to his eldest son while his widow and three daughters had to leave their home and live on barely enough money to afford even beef or sugar at times. No affection or concern came from the eldest son or his wife who soaked up the lavish lifestyle left to them, but pushed away the very idea of helping out the struggling women. And so, it is due to this love being strangled and stopped by laws of society, that the true plot of the story begins for the main characters: Elinor and Marianne Dashwood.
The first pairing we run into is Elinor and Edward Ferrars, who through conversation, begin to fall for one another. Yet, they are soon torn apart. When the four ladies leave to stay with relatives, Marianne meets Colonel Brandon who is instantly smitten by her, yet she does not seem to care for him at all due to his age. She herself serendipitously meets and falls madly in love with John Willoughby who also returns her affections. Yet, he is soon turned away from her. It is around this time that Elinor meets Lucy Steele and finds out that she has been engaged to Edward Ferrars for five years now, breaking Elinor’s own heart. They soon go to London- Elinor reluctantly and Marianne hoping to run into Willoughby. As for Colonel Brandon; we learn of the woman he had fallen for when he was young and yet how they were torn apart due to the status and wealth that he held yet she did not and how, when he finally found her again, she was on her deathbed and left her daughter to him; a daughter who disappeared a few years before the story takes place. It is here in this story that the truth about Willoughby comes out- about his illegitimate child with Colonel Brandon’s practically adopted daughter as well as the fact that he is penniless and so, while he does love Marianne, the reality of money tears a rift between them forever as he instead goes on to marry a woman of wealth.
This leaves the young and vibrant Marianne desolate to the point where she risks her life in a dangerous venture to his house in the pouring rain. It is due to her broken heart and depression that the audience begins to worry that she might not have the fighting spirit to continue on. As for Elinor, the truth of Lucy Steele and Edward Ferrars engagement is revealed, leaving Ferrars disowned and penniless. Yet, they are planning to continue on with the engagement, to Elinor’s heartbreak. Yet, it is the most important love in this story that seems to keep her going: the love between her and her sister Elinor who desperately pleads for her to hang on and to not go. It is these two sisters’ strength of love and dependency on one another that allows them to continue on home, as both of their forlorn situations of love are so similar.
It is in her recovery that Marianne herself seems to finally open her eyes and in the end falls for Colonel Brandon who has been so faithful and caring to her- someone who has put her wellbeing and happiness above his own feelings, even at the cost of heartbreak. At the end of the movie, these two are married and leave the church together- with the lonesome Willoughby watching on at the love he lost due to his push for money. As for Elinor, it is then found out that the marriage she had learned of between Edward Ferrars and Lucy Steele was actually wrong and they had instead broken off their engagement and Lucy had instead married Edward’s brother, Robert, all in a bid for the status and money that he held that Edward once had. At the end of the movie, we see these two being affectionate as members of Marianne and Colonel Brandon’s wedding procession.
As for Colonel Brandon, we had learned of his love for a young woman who he was kept from due to his wealthy status. How this woman lived a desolate life and how, when he found her again, she was on her deathbed and asked him to watch over her daughter. Then, how he fell for Marianne, but that it was unrequited due to her love for Willoughby which would lead her down to misery. How he learned of the life of his ‘daughter’ who had disappeared, but now had an illegitimate child with Willoughby. Yet how, in the end, his devotion to Marianne led to their own love and marriage.
In this story, there are various cases of love being ruined and destroyed by wealth and personal position. Of people being left desolate and alone due to the laws and beliefs of society. It is this very fact that drives the entire plot of this story through the lives of Mrs. Dashwood with the death of her husband and, thereby, the loss of her lifestyle. We see how Edward Ferrars is pulled away by his family as they wish for him to marry a woman of status and not Elinor and then, later, how he is kept from Elinor due to his own five year old promised engagement to Lucy Steele. With Marianne, we see how her love for Willoughby is torn apart due to his own penniless status, and so he chooses a wealthy woman in place of her, abandoning their love. With Colonel Brandon we see the tragedies he went through in life and yet how, in the end, due to his own devotion he was able to find the love that he deserved in Marrianne. This story truly is a tale of love lost and yet it is also a tale of love’s victory over the things of society and the world in the case of the two main characters who went through so much, and yet in the end they found their husbands through relying on the familial love they had with one another.