The Wit and Wisdom of Sense and Sensibility

As you’d expect from a Jane Austen saga, Sense and Sensibility is adorned with quiet comedy and casual revelations…

Wit of Sense and Sensibility

ON EVIL RELATIVES

The major villain of Sense and Sensibility is Fanny, the icy sister-in-law of the Dashwood sisters, who locks them out of their inheritance. "She's an insufferable woman," proclaims one of the older siblings, but it's 13-year-old Maggie Dashwood who puts it best: "If she comes to live here I might even poison her." Now there's a girl who knows what's what.

ON LIBRARIES

Not content with being obnoxious to her own family, Fanny also disparages the library in their stately home. "I think the first thing is to rip out all this dingy old paneling," she vows. "And all these old books! How could a gentleman bear to sit in a gloomy old den like this?"

Luckily, her kindly brother Edward is there to eloquently point out how much Fanny has missed the point. "This is a library. A place of refuge," he says gently. "Libraries should be full of dusty old books and nooks and corners. Places to hide away in. Do you know, Fanny, I do believe this library is quite perfect just as it is." Book lovers across the world applaud you, dear Edward.

ON PREMATURE MATCHMAKING

The boyishly excitable Sir John Middleton does tend to get carried away when it comes to romance. He's so enthused about setting the Dashwood girls up with eligible men that he rather forgets Maggie Dashwood is, at 13, just a tad too young. "Is she?" he asks, genuinely baffled. "Oh I suppose she is. I know nothing of these matters, I leave it to the women."

Sense and Sensibility

Mark Williams and the fun of period drama.

ON WHAT NOT TO SAY AT DINNER

The only person even less subtle than Sir John is his mother-in-law, who can't contain herself when the eminently eligible Colonel Brandon is introduced to the two elder Dashwood sisters over dinner. Turning to the girls' mother, she loudly asks within everybody's earshot, "Now what do you say, Mrs Dashwood? I think he'd do for one of then, don't you?" Awkward.

ON HIGHBROW FLIRTING

Is there such a thing as a highbrow saucy innuendo? Step forward Colonel Brandon, who says to Marianne: "I have a very fine pianoforte that deserves to be played on more often. I hope you will try it one day." Now there's an offer no girl could refuse.

ON BEATING A LOVE RIVAL

There's a time for gallantry and modesty. And there's a time to absolutely rub your opponent's face in your victory. The dashing John Willoughby went the latter route when Brandon called him out on his seduction of the sweet and innocent Marianne. "I cannot be blamed if Marianne prefers my company to yours," Willoughby says smugly. "We're closer in age, in temperament, in taste. In short, in everything. I commiserate with you but there it is." Ouch.

ON BIGGING UP A PRESENT

Willoughby also gives us a masterclass in how to big up a gift you give to your beloved. On bringing a stunning white horse to Marianne, he is quick to point out that it's "docile, good tempered, and exactly calculated to carry a woman." We never knew horses could be so helpfully gender-matched...

ON MEMORABLE INSULTS

And finally, when you next want to gossip about someone being a clumsy, timid and awkward, don't simply call them clumsy, timid or awkward. Call them a "hobbledehoy", a word used by Edward Ferrars' brother, which really needs to come back into circulation. (Warning: it may make you sound like an insufferably pompous posho.)

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