Author(s): Jane Austen
Jane Austen's first published novel was titled Elinor and Marianne in the early drafts. It was changed to reflect the dichotomy between rational thought and emotionalism, as embodied in her two female protagonists. Elinor Dashwood's cool reason, and her sister Marianne's more demonstrative nature, are revealed when their father Henry dies and they find themselves uprooted from the family home. The property has passed to Henry Dashwood's son by his first marriage, and neither he nor his grasping wife is inclined to accommodate the sisters and their mother. Austen faced a similarly uncertain future after her own father's death in 1805. A beneficent brother rescued that situation; for Elinor and Marianne, salvation lies in making a suitable match. Elinor strikes up an attachment with Edward Ferrars, who harbours a secret that constrains his commitment, while Marianne falls for a penniless charmer who throws her over for a rich heiress. Austen's finely woven story is driven by a question that occupied many of the great thinkers of the 18th century: whether individuals are best served by having their actions ruled by heart or head. -- from publisher.