Edward Ferrars is a major character in Sense and Sensibility. He is the brother of Fanny Dashwood and Robert Ferrars, but unlike his two siblings, he did not develop any of the snobbery that they had.
Edward was the eldest son of a very rich man who died and left most of his fortune to him. Unfortunately, the fortune depended on the will of his mother, Mrs. Ferrars. His mother had a dream of getting into the public eye, and wanted him to be in Parliament. He never fulfilled her wishes.
Upon the death of Henry Dashwood, Edward's sister and brother-in-law moved to the estate, effectively displacing the Mrs. Dashwood and her three daughters. Edward stayed at the house before the Dashwood women moved out, and met Elinor Dashwood, the eldest half-sister of his brother-in-law. The Dashwood women were pleased with his disposition and how he was unlike his sister.
Mrs. Dashwood looked forward to when Edward would marry Elinor, as she could see their regard for each other as plain as day.
[WORK IN PROGRESS; MORE COMING SOON]
As first described in Sense and Sensibility: “Edward Ferrars was not recommended to their good opinion by any peculiar graces of person or address. He was not handsome, and his manners required intimacy to make them pleasing. He was too diffident to do justice to himself; but when his natural shyness was overcome, his behaviour gave every indication of an open, affectionate heart. His understanding was good, and his education had given it solid improvement. But he was neither fitted by abilities nor disposition to answer the wishes of his mother and sister, who longed to see him distinguished—as—they hardly knew what.”
His personality, while it lacks the flash of Marianne Dashwood's romantic interest Willoughby, indicates more fortitude. Despite the good common sense that links him to Elinor, he is able to attach himself to other people and form bonds of friendship and love with ease. He exemplifies great loyalty when he sacrifices his potential happiness with Elinor to honor a promise he made to another girl when he was younger. He and Marianne's future husband Colonel Brandon are both models of great character under unimpressive exteriors. This simplicity makes them rather less three-dimensional than Pride and Prejudice′s Fitzwilliam Darcy and Emma′s Mr. Knightley.
Notes and references
- Sense and Sensibility, Chapter 3