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Sense and Sensibility Elinor is careful but Marianne is not. They both meet the man of their dreams, but will they find true happiness? Sense and Sensibility is Jane Austen’s classic story of two sisters who have a lot to learn about love.

In this reader you will find: - Background information about this novel - A short biography of Jane Austen - Glossary of difficult words - Comprehension activities - Preliminary-style activities - Exit test


Jane Austen


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Main Characters

Elinor Dashwood

Mrs Dashwood Marianne Dashwood


Margaret Dashwood

Lucy Steele

Colonel Brandon

Edward Ferrars

Fanny Dashwood

John Willoughby

Sir John Middleton and Mrs Jennings 7


Vocabulary 1a

Family relationships are important in Sense and Sensibility. Read this short summary of Chapter 1, then answer the questions below to understand who is who. Henry Dashwood lives in his uncle’s house, Norland Park. He has a wife and three daughters, Elinor, Marianne and Margaret. Henry also has a son from his first marriage. This son is called John. John is married to Fanny Ferrars, she is Henry’s daughter-inlaw. She and John have a young son. Fanny has an older brother called Edward and a younger brother called Robert. 1 Who owns Norland Park? ____________________________________________________ 2 Who are Henry Dashwood’s children? ____________________________________________________ 3 Who are John Dashwood’s sisters? ____________________________________________________ 4 Who is John Dashwood’s wife? ____________________________________________________ 5 Who is Henry Dashwood’s daughter-in-law? ____________________________________________________ 6 Who are John Dashwood’s brothers-in-law? ____________________________________________________


In this story, if you have a big house and lots of money you have a good position in society. Match each word with its definition below. a a cottage

b an estate

c to save

d to belong to

1 ■ to keep your money to spend in the future 2 ■ small house usually in the country 3 ■ to be the property of 4 ■ large area of land in the country with a large house


2 Read this summary of Chapter 1, then decide which adjectives refer to the characters in the box. Some of the adjectives describe more than one character. Use a dictionary to help you. Mrs Dashwood is sad when her husband dies, and she is very angry when Fanny soon arrives at Norland. Fanny says that the house now belongs to her. Mrs Dashwood wants to move out of the house immediately. Marianne and Margaret also want to leave. Elinor does not think this is a good idea, she says they must first find a new, inexpensive house. Edward Ferrars arrives at Norland to stay with his sister Fanny. He is so quiet that at first only Elinor likes him. Fanny is not happy about Edward’s friendship with Elinor. John made a promise to his father before he died. He promised to help his sisters. Fanny tells him not to give them any of his money. He always listens to his wife. In the end he does not give his sisters any money. Edward Ferrars • Elinor • Fanny Dashwood • John Dashwood • Marianne • Margaret • Mrs Dashwood 1 careful ________________

5 sensible _________________

2 sensitive ________________

6 shy


3 strong ________________

7 weak


4 selfish


Grammar 3 Put the correct connectives in the gaps below. but • when • because 1 ‘They are not really your sisters ____________ you don’t have the same mother.’ 2 The old man gave the estate to John’s son, __________ he said Henry, his wife and daughters could live there until Henry died. 3 Henry had a son called John, and ____________ his first wife died, he married again.


Chapter One

A New Home

2 Mr and Mrs Henry Dashwood lived a peaceful and respectable life

at Norland Park. Norland was a fine house in the centre of a large estate* that belonged to Henry’s uncle. Henry had a son called John and when his first wife died, Henry married again. He and his second wife had three daughters, Elinor, Marianne and Margaret. John was a young man who lived in London. When his mother died, he got a lot of money. He became even richer by marrying Fanny Ferrars. John and Fanny now had a son. This made the uncle very happy – the old man loved the child. Unfortunately, this happy situation soon changed. The old man died and in his will* gave Norland Park and the estate to John’s son. The old man kindly said John’s father, Henry, could live at Norland with his wife and daughters until Henry died. Henry was worried though. When he died, his wife and daughters would have nowhere to live and little money. ‘But, I am not old,’ he thought, ‘We will live here for years. In that time I will save as much money as I can for my family.’ Henry could not complete this sensible* plan however, because only twelve months later he was dying.

an estate a large house with a large area of land will legal document saying who gets your house, money etc. when you die


sensible clever, intelligent


Reading Comprehension 1

Answer the following questions in complete sentences. 1 How was Mrs Dashwood feeling when she arrived at the Palmers’ house, and why? ______________________________________________________ 2 What did Colonel Brandon tell Mrs Dashwood to make her happy? ______________________________________________________ 3 What did Thomas tell the family when he came back from Exeter? ______________________________________________________ 4 What did Lucy tell Thomas? ______________________________________________________ 5 How was Edward feeling when he arrived at Barton Cottage? ______________________________________________________ 6 How did Elinor feel about the news of Robert’s marriage? ______________________________________________________ 7 What happened when Edward went to tell his mother he was engaged to Elinor? ______________________________________________________ 8 Did Marianne love her husband? ______________________________________________________

2 Match the character with the appropriate phrase below. Colonel Brandon • Lucy Steele/Ferrars Marianne • Thomas • Willoughby 1 2 3 4 5


This person is kind and a good friend. ____________________ This person brings bad news. ____________________ This person is unkind and dishonest. ____________________ This person changes her opinion of Colonel Brandon. ____________________ This person thinks that Marianne is the most perfect of women. ____________________

Grammar 3

Put the following into the correct order to make questions. 1 told you / Who / was married? / Mr Ferrars ______________________________________________________ 2 she / tell you/ she was married ? / Did ______________________________________________________ 3 with her? / Mr Ferrars / Was / in the carriage ______________________________________________________ 4 Did / look / well? / Mrs Ferrars ______________________________________________________ 5 Colonel Brandon? / Have you / from / heard ______________________________________________________ 6 she / Did / with you? / travel down ______________________________________________________

4 Use the time phrases and words in the box to complete the paragraph below. At that moment • As • last week • next few days Now • one day • so soon • very soon For the (1)_______________, Elinor waited to hear about Edward’s marriage from one of her London friends. No letters came, but she was sure Colonel Brandon would know something. ‘Have you heard from Colonel Brandon?’ she asked her mother (2)_______________ . ‘I wrote to him (3)_______________,’ she replied. ‘I expect him to arrive here (4)_______________ .’ Elinor felt better about seeing Colonel Brandon (5)_______________ . (6)_______________, something moved outside the window. A man on a horse had stopped at their gate. A gentleman. She hoped it was Colonel Brandon. ‘(7)_______________ I will hear all about it,’ thought Elinor. But it was not Colonel Brandon. (8)_______________ the man got off his horse, she thought he looked like Edward. It was Edward!



Jane Austen (1775–1817)

Jane Austen is one of Britain’s best-loved novelists. She was born on 16 December, 1775.

Her family Jane’s father, George, and mother, Cassandra, came from wealthy families but they did not have a lot of money themselves. George was a priest in the Anglican Church, in a village called Steventon, in the southern English county of Hampshire. This is where Jane was born. Jane came from a large family. She had six brothers and one sister, also called Cassandra. The family was very close, and they helped Jane. In fact, while Jane was writing her early novels, she read her work to her family in the evenings. 118

In 1800, Jane’s father retired from the church and moved the family to Bath (where several of her novels are set). When her father died, only five years later, Jane, her mother and her sister found themselves in financial difficulty. Four of Jane’s brothers promised to give their mother and sisters money every year. The three women moved to the city of Southampton to stay with another brother and his wife.

Cassandra Austen, Jane Austen (c. 1810)

Jane at Chawton In 1809, Jane’s brother, Edward, gave his mother and sisters their own house on his estate in Chawton, not far from their childhood home. Life at Chawton was very quiet and neither Jane nor her sister ever married. The Austens did not socialise much after they moved to Chawton. This gave Jane the opportunity to concentrate on her writing. Jane died on 18 July, 1817, at the age of 41. She had been ill for 18 months and had continued to write until shortly before her death. Jane Austen is buried in Winchester Cathedral.

Jane Austen's house in Chawton

Jane Austen and Publishing Jane Austen never became famous during her lifetime because each novel simply said it was written ‘By a Lady’. She had difficulty finding a publisher, although she had help from her favourite brother, Henry, who knew many important people in publishing in London. Sense and Sensibility was eventually published in 1811 and was an immediate success. The money she made from this novel gave her financial independence for the first time in her life. 119


Jane Austen’s Time

Children at crumpsall workhouse, 1895.

An 1807 caricature engraved by Charles Williams

Women in Society Jane Austen is very interested in the social position of women. She shows them as having no power or property of their own. Jane Austen’s heroines are often strong characters who are able to control their own lives. However, many of the other women in the novel, have no life outside their family, their husband’s wishes, or their social circle. In the novel, Elinor and Marianne come from a respectable family but have no money. In the eyes of society at the time, and in the opinion of their brother, John, they will not be able to find a rich husband. Women from poorer backgrounds are able to marry rich husbands in this novel, if they are pretty. 122

The Geography of Sense and Sensibility The events of the novel take place in the south-west of England and London during the 1790s. From their fictional home of Norland Park, in Sussex, south of London, the Dashwoods move to the county of Devon in the south-west. This is a very long way from London both geographically and culturally. View of Regent Street, 1825

The ‘Season’ The London social season has been an important part of life for rich people since the seventeenth century. The rich families in this novel all own a large house and estate in the country, but spend several months of the year in London. The ‘Season’ is a period of parties and other social events, and begins just after Christmas. In Jane Austen's time, it could continue until the hunting season began in August. For many families, the ‘Season’ was a chance for young people from the ‘top’ families to find a suitable husband or wife from their own social class. Mrs Jennings takes the Dashwood girls to London for that reason. Fashionable evening dress for September, 1818


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