Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Jane Austen #3--Sense and Sensibility

Sense and Sensibility is one of Austen's early works. The two eldest Dashwood sisters are memorable characters. The book is brilliant, particularly for a first-published novel. Probably because this is an early novel, Austen is quick to tell us about characters when they are introduced rather than showing us the characters in action and letting the reader make judgements about the quality of the individual. One notable exception is the memorable little scene in which we and Elinor first see Robert Ferrars as an unknown and most pettily pretentious gentleman ordering a toothpick case. Only later does Elinor realize exactly who he is, but our, and her, opinions of the man are already formed.

This book was the first of Austen's novels to be published; the novel later titled Pride and Prejudice was turned down. Perhaps this book is less disturbing to the status quo. Willoughby, rather than being an unredeemable villain, is excused from some of his wickedness, even though a modern reader really wants to bring him to the attention of Child Protective Services. Elinor and Marianne each remain basically unchanged and still have satisfactory outcomes. Col. Brandon appreciates Marianne's "drama queen" qualities; Elinor's common sense and steadfastness turn out to be just right for life in the parsonage. There is almost no troubling change in the female characters, even though Marianne does become aware that Elinor would have handled the Willoughby situation far differently if their places had been exchanged.

UPDATE: Courtesy of my DD.


1 comment:

hmsgofita said...

I enjoyed this one. Your assessments, I feel, are also spot-on! Thanks for your review!