Rosie’s Avid Readers #RBRT Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen #ClassicBooks #Bookreview

Rosie's Avid Readers

Rosie’s Avid readers are people who like reading and have a book to tell us about, they are the voice of a friend who says ” I just read this book….”


Avid Reader’s Thoughts

‘Jane Austen’s ‘Sense and Sensibility’ is a novel of contrasts and opposites, a concept established even in the title: in the Georgian era, to have ‘sense’ was to be logical and rational, and to think with your head rather than your heart, whereas to have ‘sensibility’ was to be very emotional and passionate, without self-restraint. These two ideas are symbolised by the novel’s main characters, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood; these sisters embark on a journey for love, and these two love stories are explored throughout the novel. Elinor, the character of ‘sense’, falls in love with the quiet, educated Edward Ferrars, who ends up becoming engaged to her ‘arch enemy’ Lucy Steele, but an exciting plot twist means that this marriage never takes place. Marianne, however, falls for the charming, mysterious but unreliable Willoughby, whilst she herself is adored by the older, more mature Colonel Brandon, and whilst it seems that this adoration is ignored initially, Colonel Brandon’s dedication is rewarded eventually. In the end, Elinor’s sense seems to be rewarded by Austen in her choice of husband, whilst Marianne’s reckless sensibility is almost punished with hers.

Whilst on first glance this seems to be a tale of first love and heartbreak, more themes are explored within the book, such as social class and family duty, as well as gender relations and the conflict between idealism, symbolised by Marianne, and realism, being Elinor. It is this complicated set of themes and messages explored by Austen that makes ‘Sense and Sensibility’ so unexpectedly engaging and even exciting, not something that comes to mind when you think of a Georgian novel! Another aspect of Austen’s novel that makes it so enjoyable to read is her satirical narrative style: Austen uses a technique known as free indirect discourse throughout the novel, which is when the perspective or opinion of a certain character is filtered into the third person narrative without the use of speech or the adoption of first person narration. This technique is used by Austen to mock and satirise some of the novel’s characters, such as the materialistic, self-centred Fanny Dashwood and the equally egotistic Robert Ferrars, unlikely brother of the kind, thoughtful Edward: this is yet another contrasting relationship set up in the novel. The satirical tone injected by Austen in parts of the novel gives the book a more light-hearted and humorous edge, to run alongside the more serious, mysterious and emotional narrative. One criticism I have of the novel, however, is that it can feel very slow at times: in some chapters there is drama, dialogue and passion, whilst in many others there are simply descriptions of characters and settings, where very little action unfolds, and whilst the betrayal and mystery of certain characters (I’m looking at you, Willoughby!) keeps the novel engaging and exciting, there are certainly lulls in the plot which I had to force myself to keep reading through.

Romanticism is another concept explored, and criticised, by Austen, as the excessive emotion and adoration of nature encouraged by this cultural movement is symbolised by Marianne Dashwood, who ends up falling severely ill as a result of conforming to it; Marianne’s illness is one of the many plot twists used by Austen in the novel to keep the reader engaged. Overall, this novel isn’t one of my favourites for no reason: Austen’s witty and satirical narrative style as she follows the heart-breaking, heart-warming love stories of the almost juxtaposing, but equally loveable (in my opinion at least) Dashwood sisters, whilst she also explores themes such as family conflict, materialism and a social obsession with wealth and reputation, is what makes it such a literary classic.’

Book Description

‘The more I know of the world, the more am I convinced that I shall never see a man whom I can really love. I require so much!’

Marianne Dashwood wears her heart on her sleeve, and when she falls in love with the dashing but unsuitable John Willoughby she ignores her sister Elinor’s warning that her impulsive behaviour leaves her open to gossip and innuendo. Meanwhile Elinor, always sensitive to social convention, is struggling to conceal her own romantic disappointment, even from those closest to her. Through their parallel experience of love—and its threatened loss—the sisters learn that sense must mix with sensibility if they are to find personal happiness in a society where status and money govern the rules of love.

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