Most of the dreams, hopes, and plans that we see unfold in Sense and Sensibility have to do with love, romance, and marriage. Basically, these are the only possible futures that are available to our two heroines, and they both have their own visions of how these futures should play out. The novel deals with the gaping chasm between idealistic hopes and pragmatic plans – and what happens when these two concepts clash. The results are by turns comic and tragic; through the struggles of our characters, we see what happens in the difficult process of making dreams into real plans – and then into real life.
Austen highlights the difference between idealistic hopes and realistic plans in her depiction of Marianne and Elinor in Sense and Sensibility.
Austen depicts the process of growing up as a breakdown of the hopes and dreams of one's younger self, proposing a rather cynical outlook on the adult world.