© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
Sense and Sensibility

Sense and Sensibility


by Jane Austen

Sense and Sensibility Theme of Marriage

To quote The Princess Bride, marriage is what brings us together today – and every day, in Sense and Sensibility. Basically everything in this book – plot, the characters, their various motivations – all boil down to marriage. As the most important social contract of the world that Austen depicts, marriage is an all-important concern. Who's marrying whom? Why or why not? Is it a good match, or a bad one? Marriage isn't just a personal matter – it practically concerns everyone in a given social group. Why? Well, marriage isn't just an issue of love or companionship, the way we think of it now; instead, it was more akin to a political, social, and economic alliance between families. When two people decide to get married here, it's not just between the two lovers – it's between them, their parents, their siblings, and their hundred closest friends.

Questions About Marriage

  1. How many happy marriages do we actually encounter in this book?
  2. Is there a formula for what makes a good marriage or a bad one?
  3. Is there life after marriage?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

The resolution of the love plots is necessarily the end of the novel; Austen is simply not interested in matrimonial life.

As a middle ground between the economically motivated marriage (such as Willoughby's) and the love marriage, Marianne's match with Colonel Brandon problematizes the otherwise happy ending of this book.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...