In Sense and Sensibility, Elinor and Marianne are quite different in their outlook on life, their opinions, and their emotional makeup. Where Elinor is sensible and level-headed, Marianne is romantic, full of feeling, and sees the world in full color. However, though they are unalike in many ways, Elinor and Marianne know one another uniquely and intimately.
When Willoughby bursts onto the scene, full of “youth, beauty, and elegance,” interested in her sister, Elinor is immediately on guard. She knows the “infirmity of [Marianne’s] Nature,” her weaknesses, and her temptations. Elinor is wary of Marianne’s quick attachment to Willoughby as he steadily becomes her “most exquisite enjoyment.” Elinor watches, she waits, she cautions. And when everything eventually falls apart, she consoles and comforts.
Thou knowest the infirmity of our Nature, & the temptations which surround us. Be thou merciful, Oh Heavenly Father! to Creatures so formed & situated.
What tempts you the most?