Jane Austin-Sense and Sensibility
Our life has all the complexities, and it seems we are born within the set parameters of these complexities that don’t allow us to perceive the things and the way to see the things we want to see or what our mind and heart want us to feel and see. This intricate social life creates number of paradoxical situations and misunderstanding leading what Jane Austen in her so captivating and soul searching novel, Sense and Sensibility tries to make us understand. In our society it is most important for us “to see what is really there and not what one wishes to see.
” Written in 1811 England, Jane Austen seizes the sense and sensibility shown by the two sisters Elinor and Marianne, in their passionate love affairs. Love is the most intimate and private affair. In love and marriage, people in their own dreams and fantasies want to look at the world around what they really want to see and experience but for Jane, our happiness lie in our ability to look at the situations of the life as they are and live in them. Situation turns when we start concealing the facts of our life.
This secrecy and concealment entrails number of estrangements and disillusionments and we are not able to see what is there and only make our assumptions. The secrecy and concealment occurs in the love and marriage relationships. We often hide our love or marital relationship, afraid of being lashed by the society, but this secrecy leads to several misunderstandings. The Sense and Sensibility began with secrecy of the love affairs. Elinor who loved Edward never knew he was already engaged to Lucy and only later part in the novel when this secret was revealed; she came to know the truth.
On the other hand, Marianne was kept in dark about Willoughby’s attachment with Miss Sophia Grey and her secret love with him. This is also true with Captain Brandon who secretly loved Marianne. In fact even Elinor for a long time kept her love for Edward secret unless the day it was revealed. When Jane Austen wrote, it was the beginning of new rays of sun encompassing in the social life of England. It was the time of change, and the approaching of the social life was so endured by Austen that she pricked her senses on the ways of the world with artistry delight as she saw it and experienced it.
Though Elinore and Marianne Dashwood had the sensibility as they entered into the love affairs yet ultimately it was their senses that prevailed through out. They had to seek the emotional vacuity despite of love in their lives and were forced to enter into the social life devoid of any feelings. They wanted to lead their life on their own terms but they could not do so. They suffered disappointment and heartache yet they wanted to attain the balance between their passion and prudence.
As story moves forward, many characters seem to involve themselves in the riddle of their assumptions of other characters and often manipulate evidences in ways not expected of them. Lucy Steel was eager to marry Edward, but she did not know that Edward was in love with Elinor. Still Edward, tried to be faithful towards Lucy as he had to enter into an engagement with her due to mother’s pressure and her money. Later in the story, much to the amazement of readers, reality of Lucy entering into relationship with Edward’s brother appeared before him.
On the other hand, Marianne always claimed his love for Willoughby, who never loved her and defying her love left to the other place, where first he entered into relationship with Miss Williams and then married Miss Sophia Grey, all because she had fortune. Later Willoughby’s realizing his mistake wanted to come back to Marianne but it was too late, as Marianne meanwhile understood her life with Willboughby was impossible and she realized Captain Brandom secretly loved her, so she compromised and later married him.
Only after marriage, Marianne felt that her love with Willboughby was just an infatuation without sensuous feelings and she loved Captain deeply. In our daily lives, we come to face with number of situations that are not of our liking but we need to adopt them with dexterity and determination and adjust them according to our abilities. We have our own likings, joys and sorrows and we want to see our dreams fulfilled with everything moving according our own expectations; but this may not happen because what we want to see and experience may not be truly happening.
Situations might be contradictory to our expectations and our dreams seem to be shattered to grounds. In whole story, characters had number of expectations but these were all dependent on their own assumptions, without any solid base or evidence. The result was quite devastating, as when they came to face with reality, only disappointment came in their part. . Their joyous expectations turned into harrowing experience. Marianne thought Willboughby would marry her but he left her and married other lady.
In the beginning of the story, we are shown how Elinore controlled the situation when her mother and sister mourned her father’s death and lost wealth. She proved to be very sensible girl and persuaded her mother to maintain healthy and good relations with stepson. In between sense and sensibility also prevails morality. For Austen, duty and manners are two parts of her ethical system. Manners, for Austen are not just normal etiquettes, but imply, deep moral codes, so demanding for a writer, in this sense Austen can also be called as a conservative Christian moralist, and her views are confounded in religious principle.
Elinore is a replica of moral girl. Moral codes for women and men were different. Women did not have right to be the owner of property and they were expected to stay at home, marry and keep themselves polite and humble. Men on the other hand, made all the decisions of their lives. They could adopt their career and had flexibility to adopt any behavior and choice. From deep inside Willboughby had soft corners for Marianne, yet for the sake of fortune and money he did not accede to Marianne love and went ahead to marry a rich lady.
Elinor is the model of self-sacrifice, decided best to go to London for her sister’s happiness, and tried to behave courteously to cover rude and uncivil behavior of Marianne. In social circumstances too, it is also very difficult to perceive the character and behavior of the persons attached to us. What they appear is not necessary what they are? Willoughby appeared to be a very romantic person, kind, open hearted and very genuine, but in reality he was selfish, vain and cruel. Lucy Steele too who appeared to be innocent, in reality she was connive.
Lady Middleton behaved as a well-bred wife but never wished Steele’s as their company, and she in a very gracious manner decided to resign, but along with her gracious resignation she at-least five to six times a day reprimanded her husband. High-class society representing nineteenth century England, showed hypocrisy in their dealing with others. This hypocrisy when prevails in the society curbs the sensitivity of the readers to the point that they are forced to see what the society wants to show them and are not able to see what they themselves want to see. Almost all the characters are hypocrite.
John, Fanny, Lady Middleton, the Steele girls, Mrs. Ferrars, and Robert, all displayed hypocritical attitudes displaying vanity, flattery, and self-interest. Austin’s work has the driving brightness of the eighteenth century capturing the intensity and depth of the period she belonged to stating that hypocrisy is part of the nature and society so no one is villain in her novel. With this note of hypocrisy too, Austin opens our eyes to the fact that what ever we do or in what so ever way we act we have to see and act what is really there and not see what we really want to see or visualize.
When interacting with other people, it is our judgment that counts. While judging other people, we should look at how the person really is and what he or she really wants. But our judgments about other people may come out to be wrong as is clearly seen in whole of the novel. Marianne kindness and her love for Willboughby blinded her judgment on the other people and so the judgment of Mrs. Jennings for Lucy Steele. But within this environment of hypocrisy and dubious nature and role played by various characters, Elinore represents self-sacrifice.
She sacrificed herself for her sister’s happiness and even behaved calmly in any adverse circumstances. The main crux of Austin story is a thematic representation of loss of illusions, bringing readers towards the outlook that are more mature and sensitive and along with that there is a clash between morality and the demands of the society. Eventually in the end demands of the society won, as characters were able to adjust themselves with that and they become conscious about themselves and the society.
Austen took this concept of consciousness too to bring out her mind towards the demand of the society. Marianne was fallen but in the end she arose, and resurrected. When Marianne recovered from fever, she got conscious of the fact that her life with Willoughby’s is impossible and realized her love for Captain. When Elinor returned back to Marianne’s room, she found her sister “just awaking [front unconsciousness], refreshed by so long and sweet a sleep to the extent of [Elinor’s] hopes” (333).
This implies, she had woken from the slumber sleep of her unwoven love and she repented by her former behavior. It is to the credit of Austen that how she entered into the characters and bought about that level of consciousness. All in all, Austen brought about for the reader in Sense and Sensibility `to see what is there, and not just what one wishes to see, firstly by going into depth the characters of two main protagonists, Elinore and Marianne.
One representing Sense and the other sensibility, but within this also though Elinore was showing her sense to the world but deep inside her heart, her feelings and love for Edward was looming large making her sensitive and in the end though Marinne was sensitive, yet in the end senses prevails in her and realization daunted on her that her true love and her life was with Captain Brandon. Both as well as other characters got conscious about the real facts and what are going in the minds of each other and modified their lives accordingly.
No other writer except Austen who can craft with so subtlety and supreme expertise the characters and the life of nineteenth century society and hold us to believe this truth that what ever feelings we have we cannot deny or recede back from the decencies and moral codes destined for us by our society.
Austen, Jane. “Sense and Sensibility”. (Contributor: Ros Ballaster) Penguin Classics Edition, 2003. Richards, Anne. “The passion of Marianne Dashwood: Christian Rhetoric in Sense and Sensibility (Miscellany)” Persuasions: The Jane Austen Journal, 2003.Sample Essay of PaperDon.com