Patriarchy in Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility Essay

Patriarchy in Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility Essay

Length: 1539 words (4.4 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Patriarchy in Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility

Despite the fact that Jane Austen has become what Julian North describes as a “conservative icon in popular culture” signified by her depictions of “traditional class and gender hierarchies, sexual propriety and Christian values,” the novel _Sense and Sensibility_ provides, if not a feminist perspective, a feminist discourse lacking in Emma Thompson’s film version (North 38). In this essay, I attempt to argue briefly that the novel, which initially seems to uphold cultural norms of sexuality and does little to question women’s subaltern position, can be read to undermine the patriarchy and especially male-controlled courtship rituals. Next I seek to demonstrate how the film’s adaptation by Emma Thompson undermines its own feminist intentions to become another late 20th-century romantic-comedy prescribing a happy marriage to an attractive and wealthy man as a cure-all for the single woman’s woes (Giddings 11). Ironically the novel _Sense and Sensibility_, which many critics consider embodying the paradigm of conservative Georgian literature, appears staunchly, if graciously, countercultural in comparison to its 20th-century film adaptation.

Two features of the novel can clearly be identified as providing a feminist perspective: the discourse between sense and sensibility which presents contrasting but complementary strands of female temperament and the sisterly bond that provides the Dashwood women with a self-sustaining, if only temporary, method of resistance to an ineluctably encroaching patriarchy. Often linked to post-revolutionary ideological tumult, the triumph of sense over sensibility in the novel has spurred critics to identify it both as a reactionary vi...

... middle of paper ...

... Novel: The Theory and Practice of Literary Dramatization_.
New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1990.

Kaplan, Deborah. “Mass Marketing Jane Austen: Men, Women, and
Courtship in Two Film Adaptations.” _Jane Austen in
Hollywood_, ed. Linda Troost and Sayre Greenfield.
Lexington: U of Ky. P, 2001.

North, Julian. “Conservative Austen, Radical Austen: Sense and
Sensibility from Text to Screen.” _Adaptations: from Text to
Screen, Screen to Text_, ed. Deborah Cardwell and Imelda
Whelehan. London: Routledge, 1999.

_Sense and Senibility_. Dir. Ang Lee. Perf. Emma Thompson, Hugh
Grant, Kate Winslett. 1995.

Whelehan, Imelda. “Adaptations: The Contemporary Dilemmas.”
_Adaptations: from Text to Screen, Screen to Text_, ed.
Deborah Cardwell and Imelda Whelehan. London: Routledge,

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay on Jane Austen 's Sense And Sensibility

- ... It is interesting to note the personality types of the two protagonists, the sisters Elinor and Marianne, as they contrast each other, but more importantly, give the readers different views of the feminine personality. While Elinor is more subdued and quiet, Marianne is outgoing and emotional. Here, Austen notes that women in society, no matter what their personality type, will face undue hardships because they are seen as “quiet” or “emotional”. It is relevant to note, as well, that the plight of the novel’s main characters, namely, needing to rely on the benevolence of others for financial support and being deprived of an income while needing to maintain social status (Austen, p.7), w...   [tags: Sociology, Feminism, Gender, Simone de Beauvoir]

Powerful Essays
964 words (2.8 pages)

Sense And Sensibility By Jane Austen Essay

- The first published novel of the author Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility has been applauded for its insight into ethics and social vision. Sense and Sensibility’s meaning behind its title comes from the two main characters of the book, Elinor expresses the “sense” half of the title while Marianne embodies the “sensibility”. But why the redundancy. When Austen penned the novel two centuries ago, sensibility didn’t mean practical or sensible (as in today’s definitions), its meaning translated more amongst the lines of sensitive....   [tags: Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen, Novel]

Powerful Essays
1169 words (3.3 pages)

Essay on Jane Austen 's Sense And Sensibility

- 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....   [tags: Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen]

Powerful Essays
1659 words (4.7 pages)

Jane Austen 's Sense And Sensibility Essay

- In the novel Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen introduces Classicism and Romanticism culture as themes in her novel. She introduces Classicism and Romanticism through the representation of two of her characters, Marianne and Elinor. Accordingly, Elinor most strongly represents Classicism, and Marianne strongly represents Romanticism. Classicism as defined by is “An approach to aesthetics that favors restraint and rationality” (classicism). Hence, Classicism deals with belief in reason or rationality which are ideals Elinor’s character most strongly possess....   [tags: Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen, Horse]

Powerful Essays
1144 words (3.3 pages)

Jane Austen's Sense And Sensibility Essays

- Sense and Sensibility is a book that deals with many of life's circumstances during the eightteen hundreds. Although it was written in the first person it can provide the reader with a detailed perspective on the lifestyle of the upper crust of society. However, in order to get a full sense of appreciation of this lifestyle the elements of the opposite group, the lower class, must be attained. By comparing the differences amongst lifestyles characteristics which differ between individuals of their respective groups can be explained, and more importantly be justified....   [tags: Austen Sense Sensibility]

Powerful Essays
923 words (2.6 pages)

A Structuralist Reading of Austen's Sense and Sensibility Essay examples

- A Structuralist Reading of Austen's Sense and Sensibility The fundamental structural dynamic underlying the whole manifested universe, much less literature, is duality; therefore, Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility is easily analyzed from the structuralist perspective. Each of us is a complex mixture of polar opposites, the most primary of which being the division between right brain and left brain, or, more commonly, "heart and mind." Austen's technique in this novel is that of eliminating altogether the corpus callosum, thus juxtaposing the two halves into a "binary opposition," a split between the heart that throbs and exults and the mind which ascertains and evaluates....   [tags: Austen Sense Sensibility Essays]

Powerful Essays
615 words (1.8 pages)

Essay about Mothers in Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility

- Mothers in Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility      "I can no more forget it, than a mother can forget her suckling child". Jane Austen wrote these words about her novel, Sense and Sensibility, in a letter to her sister Cassandra in 1811. Such a maternal feeling in Austen is interesting to note, particularly because any reader of hers is well aware of a lack of mothers in her novels. Frequently we encounter heroines and other major characters whom, if not motherless, have mothers who are deficient in maturity, showing affection, and/or common sense....   [tags: Sense Sensibility Essays Jane Austen]

Powerful Essays
1504 words (4.3 pages)

Achieving a Balanced Life in Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility Essay

- Achieving a Balanced Life in Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility We are often told that too much of anything can be a bad thing. Even Aristotle, one of the greatest thinkers of all time, insisted that the only path to real contentment and inner peace is "The Golden Mean" (Funk & Wagnalls 328). This life lesson is learned by two of Jane Austen's most well-known characters. Only when Elinor and Marianne Dashwood achieve a balance between Sense and Sensibility do they find true happiness in their lives....   [tags: Austen Sense Sensibility Essays]

Powerful Essays
1973 words (5.6 pages)

Structure and Characterization in Sense and Sensibility Essays

- Structure and Characterization in Sense and Sensibility Fiction was not considered an important part of literature in the early nineteenth century when Jane Austen published her novels. Fiction was presumed to be immoral and even dangerous since it "over-excited the imagination" (Halperin 5). Many religious denominations instituted anti- fiction campaigns to protect young people from the corrupting influence of the novels. It was not until the middle of the nineteenth century that this attitude regarding fiction began to change....   [tags: Austen Sense Sensibility Essays]

Powerful Essays
4002 words (11.4 pages)

Judgments of Conduct in Sense and Sensibility Essay

- Sense and Sensibility is an elegant story that portrays the advantages of the first over the second, as manifested between two sisters of opposing temperaments, one of whom loves wisely and the other passionately. Set in London and its surrounding countryside, the story relates how Elinor, the eldest of Mrs. Dashwood's daughters, and Marianne, the second eldest, share in the agony of tragic love. In the opening of the book, Mrs. Dashwood and her three daughters are forced to move to a new and smaller abode, as her husband's death left her fairly unwealthy....   [tags: Austen Sense Sensibility Essays]

Powerful Essays
1013 words (2.9 pages)