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Sneaking a Peek at Sense & Sensibility Entry 17

People: Edward Ferrars, Elinor, Marianne

Text: At the cottage, a conversation continues between Edward, Elinor, and Marianne about the differences in personality, an old conversation from their former days at Norland. Elinor always reveres restraint and propriety. Marianne only gives herself over to her passions and emotions. Edward is laid back and shy. But apparently, the girls see something in Edward that he does not see in himself. They think he has an obvious character trait, that he is blind to.

               Edward said to Elinor, “You have not yet been able then to bring your sister over to your plan of general civility. Do you gain no ground?”

               “Quite the contrary,” replied Elinor, looking expressively at Marianne.

               “My judgment,” Edward replied to Elinor, “is all on your side of the question; but I am afraid that my practice is much more on your sister’s. I never wish to offend, but I am so foolishly shy, that I often seem negligent, when I am only kept back by my natural awkwardness. I am so little at ease among strangers of gentility.”

               “Marianne has not shyness to excuse any inattention of hers,” Elinor said.

               Edward replied, “She knows her own worth too well for false shame. Shyness is only the effect of a sense of inferiority. If I could persuade myself that my manners were perfectly easy and graceful, I should not be shy.”

               “But you would still be reserved,” said Marianne, “and that is worse.”

               Edward stared, “Reserved! Am I reserved, Marianne?”

               “Yes, very.”

               “I do not understand you,” replied he, coloring. “Reserved! How-in what manner? What can you suppose?”

               Elinor looked surprised at his emotion but tried to laugh off the subject. Edward made no answer. His gravity and thoughtfulness returned on him in their fullest extent-and he sat for some time silent and dull.

Emotion: reserved

Insight: Proverbs 5:21 knows humanity, “For a man’s ways are before the eyes of the LORD, and He ponders all his paths.”

               As humans, we tend to think that we know ourselves pretty well. And Apparently Edward Ferrars believes that he understands his own character. He believes that he is shy because he lacks the confidence in his own ability to mix comfortably with people in his class in society. As a gentleman, he believes that he cannot easily converse with those in his circle. But he seems completely shocked by Marianne’s pointing out that even if he was secure in his abilities, he would still have a reserved personality. A person that is considered reserved doesn’t easily share his feelings, thoughts, or emotions.

               But as surprised as Edward was to learn that he was considered reserved, God is never surprised. Our habits, methods, personality traits, and ways of doing things are an open book, easily read by our skilled Creator. Not only does God know about our true character, but He also takes time to study us. Maybe one way to not be taken off guard like Edward is to assess ourselves in the light of God’s gaze. Are there things about us that we are blind to? May we be open to our own strengths and weaknesses and allow God to mold our characters by His own excellent traits.

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