Howard`s End and Sense and Sensibility: Comparing Sisters

In the books Howard’s End and Sense and Sensibility there are two different sets of sisters. I will be looking at the older sisters in each of the books. In Howard’s End there are just two sisters, they are very close in age and very alike in the ways in which they show their feelings. In Sense and Sensibility there are three sisters the elder two of the three are very close in age and the youngest is a lot younger than the middle sister. All three have similar qualities and different views on their livelihood. One of the families is the Wilcoxes who are high in the society and well known through out Britain.
The mother of the family Ruth becomes very attached to Margaret as she shows concern and friendship towards her in her last few months of her life. Ruth is gentle, selfless, loving and in a way strangely omniscient. Ruth dies in the first half of the novel leaving her husband Henry a widow. Henry is a prominent businessman in London. He is Stuffy, conventional and very chauvinistic, as he points out that woman are in the world to look after the family and bring up children, but also makes sure the Wilcoxes are not seen badly in anyone’s eye. Henry then marries Margaret not long after Ruth’s death.
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Henry and Ruth had three children. Charles, Paul and Evie. Charles is the eldest son – self-centred, aggressive man who has many morals that he intends to keep. He represents all the negative sides of the Wilcoxes that they would like to keep hidden away in the cupboard. Charles marries Dolly and she gives birth to a boy who they name Tom. At the end of the novel Charles gets sent to prison for 3 years from killing Leonard Bast. Their second child is Paul the youngest son, who travels to Nigeria to make his fortune after he shares a passionate kiss and brief romance with Helen Schlegel.
The youngest of the three children is Evie who is a self centred, petulant girl. Evie marries to Charles uncle in law at the young age of 18. The second family in the novel is the Schlegels. The Mother and the Father of Margaret, Helen and Theobald (Tibby) Schlegel are both dead in the novel right from the beginning. Margaret is the chief protagonist of the story as she encounters many problems and joys. She is a 29-year-old and has English and German heritage like the rest of her family. Margaret is imaginative and committed to relations in the family.
She organises most trips and dictates to the others what’s happening. Her practical abilities, inner strength and emotional perceptiveness enable her to appreciate the Wilcoxes and strive for a finer life. Helen the second oldest is 21. She is passionate and a very fickle girl she lives for art, literature and human relations like any other upper class woman in the early 20th century. Helen represents the idealistic, intellectual and cultured side to the Schlegel family. Helen is prettier than Margaret is and more prone to excessive and dramatic behaviour as she tends to do before she thinks.
In the novel she ends up pregnant with Leonard Bast’s child. Lastly there is Theobald nicknamed Tibby who is relatively younger and more intellectual than the girls and only 16. In the book he grows up and ends up going to Oxford. He likes to indulge in luxury and is extremely lazy. Mageret and Helen will be one set of sisters I will be looking at. They are both caring and look after each other by making sure they are truly happy and that the wont marry into the wrong family. The Schlegels are well respected in their town and are in the middle of the middle class in society.
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They have a lot of money and are wise with all their actions. The Schlegels are also a very conventional family as they do attend social gatherings this is shown when they are returning from a performance of Beethoven’s 5th symphony at the beginning of the book. Finally there is one more set of people in the story, the Bast’s. These people prove to give the story an unexpected twist, light humour and more depth. Jacky Bast is an extrovert with a sense of people around her. As a former prostitute she had had an affair with Henry Wilcox 10 years ago in Cyprus.
Leonard is a poor insurance clerk he has little money – barely enough to live on. He is obsessed with improving himself and reads books constantly to try and improve his education and get a better job. Leonard wants to do a lot better with his life. He has learnt to appreciate that he is alive and to try and get the most out of it he is trying to improve himself so he will be higher and more renowned in society. Sense and Sensibility written by Jane Austen also shows us a strong and well-built relationship between the sisters – Marianne and Margaret Dashwood.
Again in this story there are many important characters. It too is set around families and brings and joins them all together in the last few chapters of the book, giving it a wonderful and unpredictable ending. The main family in the novel is the Dashwoods. They are introduced right at the beginning of the novel and the whole story follows the sisters Marianne, Elinor and Margaret. Mrs. Dashwood the kind and loving mother of the three young girls becomes a widower at the beginning of the novel when her husband Henry dies.
Mrs. Dashwood inherits nothing from her late husband except the un-known wish from her husband to John that he is to make sure her and her children are looked after and will live well. Mrs. Dashwood only wants what is best for her daughters and goes out of her way to accomplish this for them; she also has a romantic side to her and enjoys her daughters being whisked off their feet by romantic callers. Her eldest child Elinor is 19 years old and the heroine in the story, going through many difficulties and trivia’s.
Elinor is very composed and affectionate to all living things, when she falls in love with the Mr. Edward Ferrars she loses all these traits as she falls in love. She comforts and supports her sister Marianne when she is let down by Willoughby. Marianne is 17 and shines out with her spontaneity and great sense of life. Her romantic idealism leads her to fall in love with John Willoughby even when he disappears and leaves her high and dry. After this change of heart she marries her admirer – for many years – Colonel Brandon.
The youngest of the Dashwood daughters is Margaret, she has a great sense of humour and at 13 she already shares her sister’s great passion for romance and is stunned by Willoughby’s romantic ways. The Dashwoods are a very close family and tell each other everything about relationships and daily walks. They depend on each other to fall back on and are all very well mannered. Throughout the novel the young and beautiful Dashwoods fall in love with many people. The most famous and most loved of all being Edward Ferrars particularly admired by Margaret.
Edward is sensible and the older brother in his family. He falls in love instantly with Elinor but escapes from her for a while and is involved in a four year secret engagement to Lucy Steele but in the end turns up and marries Elinor as he as always wanted. His younger brother Robert manages to be the escape route for Edward to get back to his only one true love Elinor, as Lucy falls slowly in love with Robert and ends up marrying him instead. Marianne’s first love in the novel is John Willoughby.
He is an attractive young man but who deceits Marianne’s heart by greedily leaving her for the wealthy Miss Sophia Grey leaving her traumatically distraught. The unexpected Colonel Brandon finally gets his wish when Marianne returns his unrequited love. Colonel Brandon is a retired officer who falls in love with Marianne when he first lays eyes on her. He constantly tries to impress her but is always beaten away by Willoughby. He acts kindly, honorably and graciously towards the whole family throughout the novel, making the family more than glad that Marianne marries him in the end.
In Howard’s End you notice from the beginning the very strong relationship between Margaret and Helen. In their relationship Margaret takes on the stereotypical role of being the mother because she is the oldest out of the pair. This seems natural to Margaret as her mum and dad have died leaving her and her aunt Juley to look after Helen and Tibby. Margaret feels it is her duty to protect Helen from any pain or embarrassment on her part. We can see this when Margaret and Ruth meet for the 1st time since they meet in Germany.
Both the Adults agree it is better that Helen and Paul do not meet, and that it is good that they have no chance of meeting at the moment as Helen is in Germany unaware that Paul is in Nigeria. As they meet Margaret is happy that they both feel the motherly love for the two love lost “children”. ‘”You’ve been worrying too! ” exclaimed Margaret, getting more and more excited, and taking a chair without invitation. ” How perfectly extraordinary! I can see that you have. You felt as I do: Helen mustn’t meet him again”‘ In Sense and Sensibility Elinor also take the role of being the more organised and the mother of the sisters.
She two looks after her younger sibling Marianne, thinking that she knows best and tries to do everything for her. When Mrs. Dashwood exclaims that it may be months before they hear anything of Willoughby again Marianne is angry and says that it is more like a matter of weeks. This pleases Elinor because although Marianne is angry at the thought. Marianne has spoken and that means she is on her way to being mended ‘ Mrs. Dashwood was sorry for what she had said, but it gave Elinor pleasure, as it produced a reply from Marianne so expressive of confidence in Willoughby and knowledge of his intentions’.
The quote also tells us that Elinor is not only glad that she had finally spoken, she is also glad that she is able to speak of her and still has faith in him in returning – making that whole family believe that he will return and make her happy and well again. Helen and Margaret are very alike in the way that they are both representing the Schlegel family and household, which represents the intellectual aspect of middle class citizens. When Margaret first excepts the marriage proposal from Henry she presses on him whenever they are in the company of Helen to go and talk to her and make friends.
She is determined that they should be friends as they will be in the same family but is very anxious for them to like each other as they are the most important people in her life. If they weren’t friends she couldn’t see how she could deal with it. She likes Helen so much she can’t see why Henry wouldn’t. Helen is also very passionate about her relationship with Margaret. When Helen turns up at Evie’s wedding she annoyed with Henry for giving them wrong advice. When she is saying this to him she is expecting Margaret to take her side but instead Margaret doesn’t have much input.
When the Argument had calmed down a little Margaret says to Helen ‘ I am to marry Henry I must take his side’ this is the last time they speak until Margaret sees Helen pregnant. Helen is very upset with this because Margaret is he sister she feels like Henry is taking her and their friendship away from her. She feels lonely and befriended and this is why she doesn’t contact her because she feels that she is no longer needed as Margaret has someone else now, Margaret as a husband. When Helen leaves for Germany for the second time Margaret is unaware of their fight being so big to her.
After not really hearing from Helen for a while apart from in telegrams and postcards she realises something must be wrong. To her it doesn’t seem like it is Helen writing. When they meet Helen feels that Margaret can get her anything. This is natural as you expect the mother figure able to get you what you want and need. She asks by saying at Howard’s End ‘But it would give me great pleasure to have one night her with you’. Margaret sets out and risks her marriage to get her dear sister this. Their love for each other is so great they will risk anything to keep their friendship from ending.
In Sense and Sensibility, Edward comes back to Barton Cottage when Lucy marries his brother instead realising that he has always been in love with Elinor without admitting or realising it. When he lets it be known to the family that he is not married to Lucy and they have all been mistaking, Elinor acts out with joy ‘She almost ran out of the room, and as soon as the door was closed, burst into tears of joy, which at first she thought she would never cease’. Marianne is very happy that her sister has finally found happiness as it means there will be no more worry in the family for her. Marianne could only speak her happiness only be tears. Comparisons would occur – regrets would rise – and her joy, though sincere as her love for her sister, was of a kind to give her neither spirits nor language’. Meaning that she could not speak of her love for her sister as it was too great and too meaningful that there are no words too describe it. In both the novels it ends up that there love for each other finds ways to make them stay together throughout and both sets of sister’s end up living near each other. In Sense and Sensibility the novel ends with the sisters being reunited at the colonel Brandon land.
With Elinor and Edward working for him in the parsonage that had been promised to Edward months before. After pursuing and courting Marianne she finally recognised his kindness and agreed to marry him. They moved to his estate and once again by fate the sisters were brought together. The two sets of new families brought happiness to Mrs. Dashwood knowing that the sisters were within walking distance of each other, so they could look out for each other as they always had. ‘Between Barton and Delaford, there was that constant communication which strong family affection would naturally dictate … hat though sisters and living almost within sight of each other, they could live without disagreement between themselves, or producing coolness between their husbands’. This means that they can now live practically together without getting into any fights or disagreements because their relationship is so strong. With it being so strong it means that their husbands have become friends and everyone has put all the trivia’s of the past behind them and now look forward to enjoying time with each other in the future.
In Howard’s End it ends with Helen having her baby at Howard’s End with Henry and Margaret. They all live together looking after each other. ‘Helen rushed into the gloom, holding Tom by one hand and carrying her baby on the other’ This shows that the families are united together as Helen has her baby as well as taking care of Henry’s only grandson. This is showing that she has been trusted with their family in her hands. The book ends with Helen saying that the field has been cut and the crop of hay will be the best ever ‘ We’ve seen to the very end, and it’ll be such a crop of hay as never! This could be a metaphor for their life, the sisters have been together throughout all their problems and now they are going to have the best time ever. The relationships between the sisters are strong. The older sisters Elinor and Margaret have very much in common they both look out for their younger siblings taking on the stereotypical role of being the mother figure. The Dashwoods and the Schlegels are very similar as they both at the end put all there differences behind them and love and learn from the past and each other.
Throughout the novels they have fights and instances which make them hate each other. One of the differences between the Dashwoods and the Schlegel sisters is that the Dashwoods encounter many relationships and support each other in relationships and urge them to go ahead and comfort each other when they fail. The Schlegels keep by their thoughts and Helen despises Henry for taking Margaret from her and is jealous of there relationship where as in Sense and Sensibility Marianne urges Elinor to go ahead with the relationship as she wants to see her happy more than be happy her self.
When they are in relationships the other sister can sense when it is right or wrong to intervene sowing how close the families are. In Sense and Sensibility when Willoughby leaves Elinor knows best not to jump in right away and leaves Marianne so she can have some time to herself. You get the same feeling from Howard’s end when Helen becomes pregnant Margaret stands back and allows Helen to make up her own decision on what to do, but when Helen decides to stay with Margaret she is only to happy to have her to stay and welcomes her with open arms.

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