Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen: Objection to the Arbitrary Social Rules

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Jane Austen’s novel, Sense and Sensibility, embodies her objection to the arbitrary social rules of the regency era through the actions of her characters (Hearn). The rules of society effect every decision one makes because of the constant desire to have what others cannot afford. Eighteenth century England’s value of dowry, fortune, and estate constrict the main characters of Sense and Sensibility’s expression of true emotion and ability to associate with people beneath their social class. Is Austen trying to teach the reader a lesson about the un-importance of wealth in one’s true love, or proving that wealth and love can coexist in a relationship?
Young women in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were groomed to become “demure [and] delicate” wives worthy of the consideration of a wealthy potential groom (Hearn). It would be their future role to represent their husband socially and raise his heirs. Women were often unhappy about their parents choosing their spouse. They were told that love would grow in due time. In the meantime, their daughter 's marriage often simply reassured their family 's place in society. It also guaranteed both families that their heirs would have social status and financial stability. Further, her marriage joined her family with her groom 's family socially and often financially. This was just the opposite of common families who tended to marry for love and impulse.
Austen uses Elinor’s sensible and understanding characteristics to illustrate her idea that love is something deep and personal, not easily created or destroyed. Elinor sees Edward for who he is, not who he seems to be. Her initial description of Edward is “…certainly not striking; and his person can hardly be called handsome, till the expression of his eyes, which are uncommonly good, and the general sweetness of his countenance, is perceived“(Austen, 4.6). Clearly, she feels drawn toward Edward in a way that is entirely unintentional. Edward is



Cited: Austen, Jane, and Claudia L. Johnson. "4." Sense and Sensibility: Authoritative Text, Contexts, Criticism. New York: Norton, 2002. 121. Print. Hearn, Colleen Porter. "Jane Austen 's Views on Dance, Physical Activity, and Gender as an Interdisciplinary Topic." Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance 81.2 (2010): 6-8. ProQuest Research Library. Web. 20 Feb. 2013.

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