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An Analysis Of Jane Austen's Sense And Sensibility

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Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility is a timeless novel that will continue to be relevant in the future. This quality is due to its detailed portrayal of British social life in the 19th century, and its rich character development. Not only a well-written novel (in the sense of literary mechanical prowess), Sense and Sensibility provides great insight into the world of 19th century British Society; this element alone solidifies its status as a timeless novel. However, there is another component that adds depth to the timelessness of the book. In addition to the two elements I mentioned previously, the text has a number of intentional ethical implications that are folded in the subtlety of the text. Using societal and character portraits, Austen…show more content…
In his apology, he reveals the hesitancy involved in his choice between Marianne and Mrs. Grey; his genuineness that he displayed towards the Dashwood sisters demonstrate he had a very tough human choice in the matter. As Weiss notes Elinor understands the “infinitely complex truth of human motivation” (Weiss 268). Instead of seeing things as black and white, Elinor elects to take into account his humanity and flaws. Furthermore, her requirement of confirmation turns out to be a very prudent course of action that Marianne should have taken. As Elinor puts it: “’I want no proof of their affection…but of their engagement I do’” (Austen 77). In this statement, Elinor wants verbal confirmation of their engagement. Her skeptical nature ended up being the correct way to go. Marianne’s mistake is a very easy one to get caught into. As Brandon explains: “for where the mind is perhaps rather unwilling to be convinced, it will always find something to support its doubts” (160). Thus, Marianne’s “sensibility” in the novel illustrates an erroneous way of…show more content…
Her article brilliantly explains a key understanding of this paper: Austen’s development of characters, particularly Elinor and Marianne, provide ethical implications. Weiss’s assertion is that Elinor uses an empirical process to come to conclusions, and that Marianne uses “predetermined theories” to come to conclusions (Weiss 257). As Weiss notes, Elinor actually “feels” more often in the novel due to her empirical calculus. Furthermore, not only are these approaches “epistemological”, they are directly related to ethics (260). She advances that Elinor’s thought process is the desirable one that Austen supports. This would perfectly concur with O’Rourke’s commentary on how the novel is “Elinorcentric” (O’Rourke 774). With this in mind, Weiss continues on to essentially argue that Austen is arguing that Elinor’s method of thinking is much more ethical. Using examples from the novel, Weiss demonstrates how Elinor’s calculus allows her to have “compassion” and be rid of “selfishness” (Weiss 266). Simply put, Marianne’s preconceived ideas “[block] her ability to see and understand the feelings of others” (266). However, it is also important to note that Weiss concedes the limitations of empirical methods in regards to understanding morality