Into the Book

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When I think of Jane Austen, I often think “quietly brilliant.” Austen’s books are considered classics, but in my opinion they’re often under-rated — especially by guys. I recently finished Sense and Sensibility and was reminded all over again what fantastic work Austen produced, and how little credit she gets for her writing. Sense and Sensibility continues the trend of excellent characterization, great plot, and Austen’s famous witty dialogue.

After three books of Jane Austen, I still haven’t tired of her. She does fall back on fairly similar plotlines with each book: Girl looks for guy, meets some duds along the way, but ends up with the right guy at the end. Happy endings. And sure, if you reduce the plot that simply, that’s all there is to it every time. But what you’d be missing is Austen’s sharp dialogue, her fantastic characterization, and her often biting satire of middle class England.

In Sense and Sensibility, double meanings are as important as single meanings. Thoughts and dreams carry equal weight with actual events. Oh, and look out for the dialogue! Indeed, there’s a lot more in Austen books than meets the eye.

Jane Austen was one of the first to really use feelings and emotions as the setting of a book. She really dives deep into her characters’ heads — and in fact, was one of the first to use third person without an omniscient viewpoint that knows everyone’s thoughts. With one slight detour, this book takes place entirely in the head of Elinor. Everything is filtered through her thoughts, her perceptions, and view of the other characters.

The characters of Sense and Sensibility are what ensure it is a classic. They are the strong point, brought into relief by unexpected plot twists that showcase who they are and what they value. Elinor Dashwood is probably my favorite Jane Austen protagonist: she’s strong-minded, very sharp, witty and wry, self-assured, prudent, and cautious. She’s the embodiment of “sense.”

Marianne, her sister, is the contrast of sensibility. Where sense is cautious, and does not often air her feelings, Sensibility is spontaneous, emotional, driven by perceptions and instinct, and experiences life much more vocally and romantically than her sister. The meat of this book comes from the two protagonists responding totally differently to similar misfortunes and circumstances. I love the contrast presented in the title and explored throughout the entire book.

Pride and Prejudice is the classic Jane Austen, and I personally love Emma, so it’s extremely difficult to recommend Sense and Sensibility over either of those. All are fantastic books, and you owe it to yourself to read at least one Jane Austen novel and take a peek into middle-class England and the jousting emotions that Austen is so good at conveying. My own next stop is going to be Persuasion, which I hear is one of her best.

Andrew

Published on 15 January, 2016. Last updated on

4 Comments

  1. BushMaid

    For me, “Pride and Prejudice” was good, “Emma” my favourite story, but Elinor my favourite Austen character. 😀

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