My Jane Austen Odyssey: Sense and Sensibility

(This is part 1 of a series of reflections on each of Austen’s novels as I reread each one this year.)

I feel the point of S&S is that one should not allow oneself to be ruled by emotion, even appropriate emotion (like the grief the Dashwoods feel when their father dies).

One must be “mistress of herself”

What a good book to read nowadays, when airing every emotion is seen as Authenticity. When Emotion is equated with Truth.

Elinor is the Austen character I relate to (or perhaps aspire to) the most. No matter what suffering or trial she is up against, she is calm, she is collected, she is thinking of others.

Marianne’s passion most nearly results in her death. While exciting and beautiful and romantic, allowing herself to air every emotion inevitably put her brain and caution in the backseat. Hence the whole Willoughby problem (a person with her same flaw + x100 selfishness). Yes he did love her, authentically, passionately! But no he did not tell her the truth. And for all his passion, he’d rather have a bit more money to keep up his hunting. So much for emotion?

Elinor isn’t against expressing emotion- she’s for it being expressed at the right time. For using caution and Sense! Being quiet and keeping one’s emotions to oneself is not a flaw (I used to believe it was, with myself), nor is it proof of a Less passionate personality, less deep emotion. By the end of the book, I could not help but see it as a selflessness, Elinor constantly concerned for others above herself. Edward, the complete opposite of Willoughby, has so mastered his emotions that he would do what is Right (marrying Lucy) even if it was completely against what he Felt like doing. I think the Rightness of his actions here are not completely understandable in today’s culture where an engagement means very little (and marriage less too).

I enjoyed Austen’s characterization through dialogue especially in this book— Mr and Mrs John Dashwoods conversations were always hilariously greedy; Mrs Jennings earnest but lacking in fanciness; Lucy So biting and sneakily mean.

Elinor is my favorite aspect of this book though. Really can anyone help but adore Elinor when the loathsome Lucy is attempting to ruffle her feathers, and she plays it so cool?

So what do you love about Sense and Sensibility ? Which novel is your favorite?

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