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Sneaking a Peek at Sense & Sensibility Entry 18

People: Edward, Elinor, and Marianne

Text: Throughout Edward’s visit, small conversations continued to reveal the truths of his rather shy and inexpressive personality. Elinor found herself quite at a loss to figure out if he still had the same regard for her as he seemed to express when they first met at Norland. One moment, she thought she caught a glimpse of his admiration, but then during periods of reserve, she doubted herself.

               One conversation between Edward, Elinor, and Marianne revealed a bit more of his character and his craving to always speak the truth. He even went so far as to indicate that he took his opinions a bit to the extreme intentionally so as to be sure he was understood. The discussion surrounded the ability to admire natural beauty.

               “I know nothing of the picturesque,” Edward claimed.

               “I am afraid it is but too true,” said Marianne; “but why should you boast of it?”

               “I suspect,” said Elinor, “that to avoid one kind of affectation, Edward here falls into another. Because he believes many people pretend to more admiration of the beauties of nature than they really feel, and is disgusted with such pretentions, he affects greater indifference and less discrimination in viewing them himself than he possesses. He is fastidious and will have an affectation of his own.”

               “It is very true,” said Marianne, “that admiration of landscape scenery is become mere jargon. Everyone pretends to feel and tries to describe it with taste and elegance. I detest jargon of every kind, and sometimes I have kept my feelings to myself, because I could find no language to describe them in but what was worn and hackneyed out of all sense and meaning.”

               “I am convinced,” said Edward, “that you really feel all the delight in a fine prospect which you profess to feel. I like fine prospects but not on picturesque principles. I do not like crooked, twisted, blasted trees. I admire them much more if they are tall, straight, and flourishing. I have more pleasure in a snug farm-house than a watch tower.”

               Marianne looked with amazement at Edward, with compassion at her sister. Elinor only laughed.

Emotion: honesty

Insight: Psalm 15:1,2 notes, “O LORD…who shall dwell on your holy hill? He who…speaks the truth in his heart.”

               I love the beauty of this conversation to display the differences between the three people talking. Marianne loves all things beautiful with a deep and fervent passion. Elinor, somewhat moderate after years of living with her sister, admires nature, but does so with less passion and more propriety. But Edward Ferrars has taken the idea of speaking as he feels one step further. Elinor suggests that he even pretends to be a bit more indifferent than he actually feels, just to not be misunderstood. Then Edward clarifies his opinions by saying that he does admire beauty, but not just in terms of something being picturesque. He admires tall, healthy trees and disdains the beauty that an artist sees in a gnarled tree. Edward is truly saying what he feels.

               Psalm 15 points out the refreshing cleanness of one who always speaks the truth in his heart. The psalmist even reflects that God prefers the company of an honest soul. Edward is being transparent with the way he admires what he really feels to be beautiful. Not that Marianne’s passions or Elinor’s quiet compliments aren’t honest, but Edward gets the prize for not pretending what he doesn’t feel. May we embrace the beauty of being open and transparent. May we see that God really values the one who speaks the truth in his heart.


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