Husband of Mrs. Dashwood, and father of Elinor, Marianne, and Margaret; also has a son, John, from a previous marriage. He dies at the beginning of the novel, leaving his wife and daughters little money and his son his estate.
Mr. Dashwood's only son, he is selfish and miserly and mostly unpleasant to his half-sisters. Married to Fanny Dashwood, who is even more selfish and mean-spirited than he.
Mother of Elinor, Marianne and Margaret, she has a romantic temperament and is very close to her daughters. She hopes to see them all married off well, yet is not the voice of reason that perhaps she should be.
At 19, she is the oldest of the Dashwood girls, she has a great deal of common sense and is bet out of her family at dealing with people. She is a dramatic foil to her sister, Marianne, in that she tempers her emotions and judgments with good sense and discretion. Prefers to keep her troubles secret, as she is always trying to make sure that her mother and sisters are untroubled by her private woes.
Two years younger than Elinor, she is thoroughly youthful, impetuous, and thoroughly immersed in romantic ideals. She lacks the sense and discretion of Elinor, preferring to express exactly what she feels and hold nothing back. Elinor often has to apologize on her sister's behalf, as Marianne makes few attempts to be polite or mask her feelings of contempt for those people she dislikes.
The youngest Dashwood girl, she is thirteen; she tries to imitate Marianne's romantic sentiments, but is not nearly as extreme. She is included in most social invitations that the Dashwoods are invited to, though she is neither a child nor an adult, which is perhaps an awkward position for her.
Fanny Dashwood's brother, he is shy, kind, and retiring, preferring a quiet life to the distinction that his mother and sister wish for him. He and Elinor become attached early in the novel, since both are sensible and good-hearted. However, he also gives Elinor mixed signals and his thoughts and feelings are very hard to read.
Sir John Middleton
The owner of Barton Park, the Dashwoods landlord and neighbor. He is very kind and loves company, almost to the point of being intrusive; although the Dashwood girls don't care for his good-natured jibes and his insistence that they always come to Barton Cottage, he looks after them and makes sure that they are comfortable at Barton.
Sir John's wife; she is very vain and proper, meaning that she is elegant, but also uninteresting and cold. She takes joy in her children, who are badly behaved and obnoxious even; she does not share Sir John's love for company, and finds that most people are not to her liking.
Lady Middleton's mother and Sir John's mother-in-law; she makes endless jokes about potential suitors for Marianne and Elinor, and her manners, though jolly, are also vulgar and sometimes irritating. She has far more in common with her son-in-law than with her daughter, as they both love company and shows of humor.
One of Sir John's oldest friends, he is 35 and a former military officer who was stationed in India. His countenance is rather stern and grim, hiding his good heart; Elinor finds him good company, though Marianne considers him too dour and not nearly romantic enough to be suitable company.
A dashing, roguish young man, he embodies all the dashing, romantic qualities that Marianne prizes. He also loves art and literature just as she does, and has a manner that is almost too open and bold for his own good. He proves to be reckless and more deceptive than anyone could have imagined.
Colonel Brandon's adopted daughter, child of a woman he was once in love with. She does not appear in the novel, but her seduction and abandonment by Willoughby figures heavily in the plot.
Also does not appear; she is Willoughby's aunt, on whom he is financially dependent, and orders him away to London without her support when she finds out about Miss Williams.
Mrs. Jennings' other daughter, she is foolishly good-spirited and empty-headed as well. She ignores the rudeness and insults that her husband so frequently offers up, deceiving herself that he is good-natured and means well.
Very bitter man, who usually makes cutting, sarcastic remarks at the expense of his wife and of others. He is very unpleasant to be around, and drives away most people, despite his wife's frequent apologies.
A distant cousin of Mrs. Jennings, she and her sister become guests at Barton Cottage for a number of months. Miss Steele is foolish, flippant, and very ignorant, and gains the approval of Lady Middleton through shameless flattery and pandering to her children.
Somewhat smarter than her sister, Lucy is still silly, unpolished, and judged by the Dashwood girls to be unremarkably average company. She also proves to be opportunistic, wrangling her way into the Ferrars family despite being poor and not well connected.
Edward's brother, a vain, conceited man who is much beloved of his mother. He manages to profit from Edward's integrity and his refusal to dump Lucy, and then rewards his brother by deceiving him, and keeping Edward's inheritance. He does Edward a good turn, however, by taking the dreadful Lucy off his hands.
Willoughby's chosen wife; he does not love her, but she has a great deal of money, which is why he chooses her over Marianne.
The unfortunate girl who is supposed to marry Edward, then Robert, and ends up with neither; she is also wealthy and of good family, although she must find a husband after the Ferrars shuffle.
Edward, Fanny, and Robert's mother, she is a bad tempered, vain woman who embodies all the foibles demonstrated in Fanny and Robert's characters. Determined that her sons should marry well, she ends up disowning Edward, then embracing Robert for marrying or threatening to marry Lucy Steele.
Helps during Marianne's illness at Cleveland, prescribing medicines and treatments that eventually make her better.
Sense and Sensibility Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Sense and Sensibility is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
They are generally considered to be lower than men. Consider that thebest hope the Bennet sisters have for success in life was to marry well. They need to be attached to a man of wealth to receive any validation.