Jane Austen Concentrates on Courtship not Marriage in Sense and Sensibility

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“Austen’s subject is not courtship but marriageship” – Chen Hua
To what extent do you agree with this critic’s observation of the novel? 2/4

Cameron Whiting

Chen Hua’s view that “Austen’s subject (in Sense and Sensibility) is not courtship but marriageship” can arguably be both justifiably agreed with or disagreed with. Although almost everything in the novel – the plot, characters and their various motivations all boils down to one thing, marriage. Austen depicts marriage as an all-important concern. However it could be argued that this novel is based more around the courtship aspect of a relationship as all the time in this novel is spent describing the courting of all the young, single women in the novel and the marriages are described in little to no detail and the writing by Austen almost seems to have been rushed.

There is evidence in the novel to suggest that Hua’s statement can be perceived as being correct. Austen explores the idea that at this time in England marriage was more akin to a political, social, and economic alliance between families. When two people decide to get married, it was not just between the two lovers – it was between them, their parents, their siblings and their friends. In “Sense and Sensibility” characters like Fanny Dashwood, Lucy Steele, Robert Ferrars and Willoughby view marriage in this way, whereas the Dashwood girls, their mother, Colonel Brandon and to an extent Edward Ferrars seen marriage as something that is to be shared between two people that love each other and whether they are of a “good breed” as Fanny Dashwood alludes to in the novel or their economic situation has no bearing on the matter.

However there is much evidence in the text to suggest that Hua’s statement is false and the subject is mainly based on the courting of the young women in the novel, in this instance mainly Elinor and Marianne Dashwood. The whole novel barring the final two chapters are used by Austen to introduce and describe the

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