Tag Archives: Marianne Dashwood

Marianne Dashwood – A Romantic Heroine

18 Apr

Marianne’s abilities were, in many respects, quite equal to Elinor’s. She was sensible and clever; but eager in everything: her sorrows, her joys, could have no moderation. She was generous, amiable, interesting: she was everything but prudent. The resemblance between her and her mother was strikingly great.

jane austen sense and sensibility book cover 1

‘Sense and Sensibility’ was Jane Austen’s first published work and is my favourite novel by Jane Austen. Both the movie Sense and Sensibility (1995) and the novel are amusing and interesting, a real nourishment for imagination. Even if you throw out the romance, you’re still left with witty dialogues, interesting Regency fashion, insight into social customs and daily life in Regency era. There’s something so exciting in imagining that perhaps there once was a Marianne Dashwood out there, with all her romantic adventures and sensibilities!

The character of Marianne Dashwood is probably the main reason why I love this book so much. I feel I can relate to her, much more than I can to Elizabeth Bennet, despite the general admiration and affection readers usually have for Miss Lizzy. I think Marianne is a very interesting character, a typical heroine of Romanticism. Embodying the ‘sensibility’ of the title, Marianne is spontaneous, impulsive, idealistic, excessively sensitive, amiable and generous; she’s everything but ‘sensible’. Marianne’s romantic and passionate nature has shaped her interests and hobbies, as well as her attitudes towards love and life; she loves reading poetry, playing pianoforte and singing, living passionately in general, long strolls, romantic adventures, and, keeping in touch with Romanticism, she loves nature. Like Marianne, I am exceedingly romantic, because I’ve listened to Chopin’s Nocturnes one too many a time, read too many Victorian novels, and I daydream too much.

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No voice divine the storm allay’d,
No light propitious shone;
When, snatch’d from all effectual aid,
We perish’d, each alone;
But I beneath a rougher sea,
And whelmed in deeper gulphs than he.

       The Castaway, 1799, lines 61–66 (William Cowper)

Marianne is particularly fond of William Cowper who is considered one of the forerunners of Romanticism. His thoughtful and emotional celebration of the beauty of nature was very appealing to Jane Austen herself. I think it’s very appropriate that they included a recitation of Cowper’s poem in the movie because it perfectly demonstrated the difference between two sisters, their worldviews and qualities they value. During discussions about Edward Ferrars, Marianne proclaimed: ‘I could not be happy with a man whose taste did not in every point coincide with my own. He must enter in all my feelings; the same books, the same music must charm us both.

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Kate Winslet is the only Marianne Dashwood for me! She perfectly embodied Marianne’s romantic idealism, spontaneity, and passion for wild flowers and poetry! I have not doubted for a moment that who I’m watching on the screen is a real Marianne Dashwood coming to life. Even her appearance coincided with my own vision of Marianne! Kate’s appearance in the movie was pure embodiment of the word ‘romantic’; her sparkling eyes, golden curls and heart-shaped lips were all perfectly suitable for the image of a romantic heroine.

Every romantic heroine needs a romantic hero. Marianne’s first romantic adventure began the moment Mr Willoughby carried her to the house, in the rain, after she had sprained her ankle. The next morning he brought her wildflowers, and the two bonded over the shared love of poetry. Still, the story would have been too perfect if it had stopped there. Willoughby had secrets of his own. It seemed sad to me at first, but after finding about Willoughby’s immoral behavior and corruptible nature, I was delighted that he abandoned Marianne for I would not want a person like that to be her husband.

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Even though some, or rather, most of the readers have expressed disappointment on Marianne falling in love and marrying Colonel Brandon, I actually liked the ending. Willoughby seems a better partner for Marianne at first; he’s young, handsome and charming, but it is maturity and wisdom of Colonel Brandon that enabled him to deeply love and appreciate Marianne in a way Willoughby never could. It’s just my opinion though, perhaps somewhat shaped by the fact that Brandon was portrayed by Alan Rickman in the film, and I like him, and his voice.

In the end, Marianne realised that Colonel Brandon was very much capable of falling in love or inspiring love in someone else. I think it’s very romantic how he fell in love with Marianne at first sight, as she reminded him of his unforgotten love Eliza, without even hoping or expecting Marianne to return his feelings.

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William Shakespeare – Sonnet 116

16 Apr

sense and sensibility 14

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

Thomas Lawrence – ‘Always in Love and Always in Debt’

14 Apr

How strange that Thomas Lawrence’s romantic and dreamy paintings were on my mind yesterday, when in fact he was born on 13 April 1769. I thought to myself, this must be the voice of art telling me to write about Thomas Lawrence, and that’s exactly what I decided to do.

?????????????????????????1795. Portrait of Sally Siddons (Daughter of Sarah Siddons) by Thomas Lawrence

Thomas Lawrence belongs to ‘the golden age of British portrait painting’; the age of Gainsborough, Reynolds, Beechey and Romney. Although today his paintings may be regarded as too sentimental or too decorative, their romantic flamboyance was all the rage in Georgian London.

He was born in Bristol, the son of a tavern-keeper, and showed his artistic talents early on. His parents considered him a child prodigy and laid all their hopes in him. Fortunately, all their expectations came true. Lawrence’s success was rapid; one moment he was a ten year old boys making drawings and pastels at his father’s tavern, and the other he was a respectable young painter in London. He arrived in London sometime before his eighteenth birthday, in 1787, and settled himself near the studio of Joshua Reynolds who advised the handsome and lively young painter to study nature, and forget the Old masters.

Thomas’ ability to charm and seduce cleared his way to success. Polished manners and kind demeanor, along with obvious artistic skills and individualistic approach, made him popular among young Regency ladies who all wanted to be captured for eternity in Lawrence’s romantic and dazzling style. He happily plunged into the Regency world of aristocracy, fashion, theatre and art. Still, his painting style sometimes proved to be a tad too modern for the audience accustomed to more classical aesthetics. His free brushstrokes, thickly applied paint (especially when painting clothes) and strongly contrasted colours all differed him from the smoothness and feather-light touch of Reynolds or Gainsborough.

1790. Sir Thomas Lawrence - Elizabeth Farren, later Countess of Derby1790. Sir Thomas Lawrence – Elizabeth Farren, later Countess of Derby

As much as for his artistic talents, Lawrence was known for being ‘Always in love and always in debt’. He himself said –  ‘I have never been extravagant nor profligate in the use of money. Neither gaming, horses, curricles, expensive entertainments, nor secret sources of ruin from vulgar licentiousness have swept it from me’. Exactly what he spent his money on, and he had a great deal of it, remains a mystery. It is likely, however, that his generous nature compelled him to financially help his friends and relatives, and he did enjoy collecting works of old masters.

Thomas Lawrence led a life of romances, debts and art. He was a charming and flirtatious lad, and although he never married, his name was romantically linked to many beauties of the day. Two sisters, fragile and sickly ladies, Sally and Maria Siddons, the eldest daughters of the famous actress Sarah Siddons, caught his eye in the 1790s. He first fell in love with Sally, then transferred his affections to Maria, then broke with Maria and returned to Sally. But Maria died in 1798 and Sally promised her on her deathbed that she would not see Mr Lawrence again, and she kept her promise until her own death in 1803.

1793. Selina Peckwell, later Mrs. George Grote by Sir Thomas Lawrence1793. Selina Peckwell, later Mrs. George Grote by Sir Thomas Lawrence

There is a reason why these charmingly beautiful Lawrence’s portraits were on my mind: I’m re-reading my favourite novel by Jane Austen – Sense and Sensibility. Since it is set in late 1790s, I can not help imagining Marianne dressed in one of those splendid yet simple white dresses. Thomas Lawrence is the only painter who could capture Marianne’s romantic idealism, vivaciousness and excessive sensibility. In my imagination Marianne would be portrayed with a book in her hand (Shakespeare’s sonnets of Cowper’s poems), with eyes full of ‘life, a spirit, an eagerness which could hardly be seen without delight.‘ May I add that Thomas Lawrence enjoyed reading Jane Austen’s works too, which I find rather strange.

Portrait of Sally Siddons, shown all the way up, is my favourite portrait by Thomas Lawrence. It appeals to me for many reasons. First of all; it portrays his love interest – Sally Siddons which gives it a level of emotional honesty. Secondly, her pose was always very captivating to me; she seems very thoughtful, dreamy and confident at the same time. Thirdly, her dress is painted so beautifully, those gathers captured so exuberantly, especially if you consider that white is the hardest colour to paint. Then there’s that dreamy atmosphere to all of Lawrence’s portraits, a remarkable theatrical sensibility, and a provocative touch. His sitters always seem caught in the moment.