Elinor represents "sense" in this novel. Only nineteen, she is her mother's counselor, able to influence her in the direction of prudence. When Mrs. Dashwood wants to leave Norland Park, it is Elinor who prevents her from acting too hastily. She induces Marianne to look at things in a calmer, more sensible light than is natural to her, as when she makes her admit her impropriety in going alone with Willoughby to Mrs. Smith's house.
Elinor is very different from Marianne when she falls in love. Though attracted to Edward, she is cautious, telling her sister, "I am by no means sure of his regard for me." She keeps her self-control when she learns that Lucy has been secretly engaged to Edward and rightly concludes that Edward felt only a youthful infatuation for the girl.
Deeply devoted to Marianne, she goes to London because Marianne hopes to find Willoughby there, and she makes up for Marianne's rudeness to their hostess by her own unfailing courtesy. When Marianne falls ill, she nurses her tenderly.
When she hears from a servant that "Mr. Ferrars is married," Elinor shows that she is not always the calm, collected girl she appears to be. Being capable of deep devotion, she is also able to love sincerely, and at the story's end her faith in Edward has been rewarded in their marriage and subsequent happiness.