Thursday, November 25, 2010

Reading A-Z: Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility

It was impossible for her to say what she did not feel, however trivial the occasion; and upon Elinor therefore the whole task of telling lies when politeness required it, always fell.
-Chapter 21
I read bits of the introduction of this novel first, and was surprised to find that it is another contender for ‘Jane Austen’s worst novel’. I don’t really get why.

I must admit, however, that I am a bit conflicted about certain aspects of the novel – mainly Marianne and her romance with Brandon. While at the time this was perfectly understandable, the whole 17 year old girl and 35 year old guy thing was a major source of squick. I don’t go so far as to ship Brandon and Elinor, but I really don’t like the way Marianne was disposed of… perhaps because I think there is a certain level of ‘break the heroine’ that I abhor in stories.

I really enjoyed the relationship between Elinor and Marianne, and the relationship between the sisters and society. The whole social dance is displayed and (covertly) criticised, and in spite of claims that Marianne does not participate in this dance, she obviously does just to a much lesser extent than her sister. I have a hard time deciding which of the sisters I like more. I admire Elinor’s stoicism and her ability to follow the social rules while being honest, but Marianne’s sheer gutsiness is irresistible. Obviously, though, Marianne needs a little more sense. Her behaviour after Willoughby’s betrayal is too extreme, but in the end I did think she was broken a little too much.

All in all, although my favourite Austen is still Pride and Prejudice followed by Persuasion, I did enjoy Sense and Sensibility.

And next up on Reading A-Z: Frank Beddor, The Looking Glass War.

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