Study Guide

Sense and Sensibility The Home

By Jane Austen

The Home

Chapter 3

Mrs. Dashwood remained at Norland several months; not from any disinclination to move when the sight of every well known spot ceased to raise the violent emotion which it produced for a while; for when her spirits began to revive, and her mind became capable of some exertion than that of heightening its affliction by melancholy remembrances, she was impatient to be gone, and indefatigable in her inquiries for a suitable dwelling in the neighborhood of Norland; for to remove far from that beloved spot was impossible. (3.1)

Home here is something prickly – while it's the site of trauma and "melancholy remembrances" in the wake of Mr. Dashwood's death, it's also too much loved to completely leave.

Chapter 5
Marianne Dashwood

Many were the tears shed by them in their last adieus to a place so much beloved. "Dear, dear Norland!" said Marianne, as she wandered alone before the house, on the last evening of their being there; "when shall I cease to regret you? -- when learn to feel a home elsewhere? -- Oh happy house! could you know what I suffer in now viewing you from this spot, from whence perhaps I may view you no more! -- And you, ye well-known trees! -- but you will continue the same. -- No leaf will decay because we are removed, nor any branch become motionless although we can observe you no longer! -- No; you will continue the same; unconscious of the pleasure or the regret you occasion, and insensible of any change in those who walk under your shade! -- But who will remain to enjoy you?" (5.8)

Marianne's lament to Norland is a heartfelt one – she sounds melodramatic, but she's serious. Imagine leaving the only home you've ever known – that's about how the Dashwoods feel! Underneath Marianne's poetic pretension, there's genuine feeling.

Chapter 9

The Dashwoods were now settled at Barton with tolerable comfort to themselves. The house and the garden, with all the objects surrounding them, were now become familiar; and the ordinary pursuits which had given to Norland half its charms, were engaged in again with far greater enjoyments than Norland had been able to afford since the loss of their father. (9.1)

The Dashwoods embark upon the process of making Barton their new home – we see that their old home was marred by the sadness of their father's loss there. Does this imply that we need fresh starts (and new surroundings) to get over the traumatic events of the past?

Chapter 14

Nothing could be more expressive of attachment to them all, than Willoughby's behaviour. To Marianne it had all the distinguishing tenderness which a lover's heart could give, and to the rest of the family it was the affectionate attention of a son and a brother. The cottage seemed to be considered and loved by him as his home; many more of his hours were spent there than at Allenham; and if no general engagement collected them at the park, the exercise which called him out in the morning was almost certain of ending there, where the rest of the day was spent by himself at the side of Marianne, and by his favourite pointer at her feet. (14.5)

This description of Willoughby does seem to suggest that home is indeed where the heart is – he gives all evidence of wanting to settle in with the Dashwoods, rather than be alone at his own house (or rather, future house), Allenham.

John Willoughby

"There certainly are circumstances," said Willoughby, "which might greatly endear it to me; but this place will always have one claim on my affection, which no other can possibly share." (14.7)

In this declaration, Willoughby asserts the fact that Barton Cottage, for all its flaws, is more homelike to him than his own houses at Allenham and Combe Magna because of one thing – presumably Marianne. Is it love, then, that makes a house a home?

Chapter 32

Against the interest of her own individual comfort, Mrs. Dashwood had determined that it would be better for Marianne to be anywhere at that time, than at Barton, where everything within her view would be bringing back the past in the strongest and most afflicting manner, by constantly placing Willoughby before her, such as she had always seen him there. (32.3)

Here, we see that home is not always a safe place – in fact, sometimes the things we used to find comforting can be the most painful.

Chapter 50

Between Barton and Delaford, there was that constant communication which strong family affection would naturally dicate; and among the merits and the happiness of Elinor and Marianne, let it not be ranked as the least considerable, that though sisters, and living almost within sight of each other, they could live without disagreement between themselves, or producing coolness between their husbands.(50.20)

Finally, a new "home" is created – and all is settled and right in the universe. The world that the Dashwoods-Ferrars-Brandons have created for themselves has everything that home requires: family, friends, and true love.