Using ‘silence’ as a manipulative tool in Sense and Sensibility

Topics: Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen, Apache Pages: 3 (1732 words) Published: October 31, 2014

Using ‘silence’ as a manipulative tool in Sense and Sensibility ""Pray, pray be composed," cried Elinor, "and do not betray what you feel to everybody present. Perhaps he has not observed you yet"" (131). In the patriarchal world which governed by money and self-interest, Elinor and Marianne, the Dashhood sisters had left without fortune and support, and their beloved men were remote from them. In the novel of nineteenth century, Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen wrote about two Dashhold sisters who had lost their home and estate after the death of their father - whose properties went to his male heir. One of the main characters, Elinor Dashhold, sensible and sensitive, takes the responsibility for her family and speaks as little as possible with a great caution, however she is criticized by her mother and sister for not telling her feelings, although every time she had different reasons for keeping silence. As Keith Basso hypothesized in his research about Apache people’s reluctance to speak to focal participants as an ambiguous status of their relationship, Elinor is similarly responding to ambiguity with silence, but unlike the Apache this ‘silence’ takes the form of conversation. In this paper, I am going to give three cases where Elinor did not speak a lot and kept silence, but when there was necessity to talk or answer the questions she replied to ambiguity with other forms of conversation: either by avoiding the direct answers or by asking the questions. It is the thesis of the paper that Elinor understands that conversation can be a form of silence, and she is able to use this understanding to manipulate the characters around her. Elinor Dashhood, in her nineteenth, is already qualified to be the counsellor of her eager and imprudent mother. Jane Austen beautifully describes her character as: "She had an excellent heart; -- her disposition was affectionate, and her feelings were strong; but she knew how to govern them…" (6). She is self-possessed and...
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