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Rory Book Discussions > Sense and Sensibility

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message 1: by Alison, the guru of grace (new)

Alison | 1282 comments Mod
Shall we break it up? Or discuss it as a whole. My copy is around 175 pages. 50 short chapters.

message 2: by Anna (new)

Anna (lilfox) | 199 comments Maybe as whole. It's not as long as Count of Monte Cristo

message 3: by Alison, the guru of grace (new)

Alison | 1282 comments Mod
Thank goodness for that!!!!!!!

message 4: by Anna (new)

Anna (lilfox) | 199 comments Yeah

message 5: by Joanie (new)

Joanie | 197 comments My copy minus notes etc is 367 pages-how can there be such a big difference? Maybe it's bigger vs. smaller pages/font-weird.

message 6: by Dini, the master of meaning (new)

Dini | 691 comments Mod
Argh, I need to finish my currently-reading soon to get to this! Which edition do you have, Joanie? Mine's the Barnes & Noble Classics with 312 pages divided into three volumes. As always, not crazy about the cover. And why do they always have to pick such dark, dull colors?

message 7: by Joanie (new)

Joanie | 197 comments I have the Enriched Classics version, it's a smaller, pocket book size. I was flipping through it last night but haven't really started yet.

message 8: by Alison, the guru of grace (new)

Alison | 1282 comments Mod
Mine's a volume of Austen--B&N I think.

I say we don't split it up, because once you get going, this is a pretty quick read (in my opinion). But, it's still open for discussion.

message 9: by Dini, the master of meaning (new)

Dini | 691 comments Mod
I agree, discussing as a whole seems OK. We can put spoiler warnings where appropriate.

message 10: by Angie (new)

Angie | 512 comments Is this the thread to discuss?

message 11: by Alison, the guru of grace (new)

Alison | 1282 comments Mod
Yes, Angie. Go for it!

message 12: by Dini, the master of meaning (new)

Dini | 691 comments Mod
I started the book yesterday and am moving to chapter 16 now. This reads faster than I thought!

message 13: by Dini, the master of meaning (new)

Dini | 691 comments Mod
Okay, some random stuff: Edward Ferrars (played by Hugh Grant in the movie) is described as a man with no job. In the movie adaptation of the book I read before this, About A Boy, Hugh Grant plays jobless Will Freeman. Could this be a Rebecca effect?

message 14: by whichwaydidshego, the sage of sass (new)

whichwaydidshego | 1996 comments Mod
In one he's jobless and rich, in the other he's jobless and without income. But this probably should be a goofy conversation starter over on the movie thread, not the book one... Don't know about Rebecca Effect, but very funny.

message 15: by Alison, the guru of grace (new)

Alison | 1282 comments Mod
Maybe Hugh Grant is well suited for the distinguished, but undermotivated role, Dini. Haha. He's a cutie either way.

I read this last weekend and thoroughly enjoyed it. I haven't reviewed it yet, but it is one of my all-time favorites. I kept picturing all of the movie actors/actresses in my head as I was reading, especially Hugh. Five stars for me!!!!

And, although I THOUGHT I had read this one, I think I've just seen the movie. Both are wonderful.

message 16: by Kathryn (new)

Kathryn | 361 comments Since there's another post on Masterpiece Theater... Did any of you see the newest BBC version of this book? I thought that some aspects were quite well done, and the "artistic" feel to the film in terms of some really gorgeous shots and the locations, etc. were sometimes superior. Also, the actors were more age-appropriate (much as I love Emma Thompson and Hugh Grant, they were a bit "advanced" in years compared to the book) HOWEVER, I felt that the E.T. version was more faithful to the overall feel of the book and much richer and more revealing in terms of depth of character. If you're a true S&S fan, though, I'd say both films are worth watching.

message 17: by [deleted user] (new)

Dini, you were right, the book definitely WAS a quick read. I read, or rather, speeded through it yesterday and read my last few 50something pages this morning during breakfast.

I really, really enjoyed it. Loved the story, especially Elinor and how she behaved.
I could identify with her very much, more than with other Austen characters like maybe Emma, who was definitely likeable, but not really someone with whom I could identify. Elinor instead, with her quiet and deliberate manners made me think of myself.

Still, there is one aspect about the book that I did not like terribly much (attention, spoiler!!):

Marianne marrying Colonel Brandon sort of felt very much "out of character" for me. Sure, she said that she was altered by her experience with Willoughby, but still... I thought that for someone like her, it was too much of a complete change. It did not awfully disturb me, but it was enough to irritate me a slight bit.

message 18: by Ann (new)

Ann | 345 comments I think Alan Rickman's Colonel Brandon is far superior to the BBC's Brandon! My main impression with the BBC version compared to the E.T. was that everything more more distinct in the E.T. version - Elinor was more Sensible, Marianne more dramatic, Edward more shy, etc. So, perhaps the BBC version was more realistic, but as far as telling the story and the feel of it, I much preferred the E.T. version. It could be because that's what I've always know though.
That aside, I must give Emma Thompson credit for an amazing adaptation!

Also, yes Marion, I can see your point about Marianne and Brandon - it is a bit sudden. If you haven't seen the E.T. version, I encourage you to - it may help;) In my opinion at least:)

message 19: by Alison, the guru of grace (new)

Alison | 1282 comments Mod

I kind of thought it was important for Marianne to end up with Brandon b/c it showed how the sister's reversed roles a bit at the end...Marianne made a sensible choice, and Elinor, via her breakdown over Edward became more in tune with and able to let go of her emotions. Kind of bit of a plot device, but it's Austen, so I forgive. :)

I agree that once you've seen Kate Winslet & Alan Rickman together, it's more digestible. But I can see where you're coming from, Marion. Austen wasn't too complimentary of Brandon's looks or personality!

message 20: by Ann (new)

Ann | 345 comments There is a book discussion post about Marianne representing Sensibility and Elinor representing Sense, if anyone is interested:

message 21: by Dini, the master of meaning (last edited Sep 10, 2008 08:12AM) (new)

Dini | 691 comments Mod

I just got to the middle of the book when they found out Willoughby was a scoundrel.

It just seems a little weird to me that Elinor is always suspicious of Willoughby and never believes he and Marianne are engaged (although, of course, they never did say they were), but on the other hand she still trusts Edward's feelings for her despite the revelation that he's engaged to someone else. She even thinks Edward is stuck in an engagement he didn't want. I mean, the two guys generally did the same thing: they gave attention to the Dashwoods which inevitably makes them think there was something special, but they offered no promises. Elinor is supposed to be the sensible one, but the blind trust she has for Edward seems to me to contradict that.

message 22: by Kathryn (new)

Kathryn | 361 comments SPOILER:

When I first read S&S I, too, was a bit perplexed (and not exactly pleased) by Marianne ultimately chosing Brandon. However, after reading the book again (and seeing Alan Rickman's portrayal in the film) I tried to rearrange my romantic sensibilities and view him in another light. I wonder if Marianne did much the same, realizing that his deep devotion to her and his indefatigable goodness were marks of a much fuller heart than she realized; that flowers-and-poetry aren't the end-all. (Especially darling at the end of the film is when Brandon IS trying to improve at reading poetry to Marianne--I like this touch as it shows that he is also becoming aware of what she would appreciate in her lover and is doing his best to provide without totally altering his character.) I also found in interesting in the recent BBC version that Marianne is impressed with Brandon's loyalty to his former love--that he has been harboring the secret sorrow and still nurturing his love all this time--and she begins to think that his heart is more capable of this deepest love than Willoughby's.

message 23: by Alison, the guru of grace (last edited Sep 10, 2008 11:28AM) (new)

Alison | 1282 comments Mod
Dini--I can't respond to you properly until you've finished the book. Then we'll talk. :)


Kathryn--you've sold me on the BBC version. Must watch it soon. I think Marianne had to learn the hard way (like many of us, warnings didn't work--she actually had to jump in there and get her heart broken) what was really important in a man.

One thing that was a big turning point for Brandon for me, was when Marianne is feverish and calling for her mom (getting chills just thinking about it), and Brandon goes and brings her (the mom) back. I was reminded of ?????????? is it Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice that does something for the Bennetts--one of them runs off with a scoundrel, and he goes and stands up for them so they can be married, and thus saves them societal shame??? Austen's heros always show such loyalty to the family, and character that ultimately wins over the ladies. Men of substance!

message 24: by Dini, the master of meaning (new)

Dini | 691 comments Mod
Alison, I'm intrigued! Now I really gotta go and read it faster ;)

message 25: by Kathryn (new)

Kathryn | 361 comments Great connection there, Alison!

P&P SPOILER: Yes, in P&P it is Darcy who dashes off to find the runaway/"elopers" Wickham and Lydia (Lizzie's sister) to make Wickham marry her and thus restore the good name of the Bennets. Yes, AMEN to Austen's men of substance!
(I've always had an especial place in my heart for Mr Knightly--I know he usually gets the short end of things, paling in comparison to Darcy, but I think he is so good -- though perhaps it was Jeremy Northam's swoony-darling performance in the film that truly won me over!)

message 26: by Alison, the guru of grace (new)

Alison | 1282 comments Mod
Perhaps it was! :)

message 27: by whichwaydidshego, the sage of sass (new)

whichwaydidshego | 1996 comments Mod

Dini, don't you think, though, that Elinor's trust is rooted in the soundness of Edward's character. He defended and protected the Dashwood women to his sister at times and was simple, honest, and true in both word and deed.

I mean, I can see her, a thoughtful person, not entirely trusting Willoughby who shares every thought, but does not display integrity. He will readily abuse people who have made him even slightly unhappy right there and to anyone. What sort of character does that display? He is also not true in the sense that he absolutely believes what he says in the moment, but he might believe something else entirely the following day. His contradictions and effusiveness together I think are what cause the thoughtful and observant Elinor to distrust him... or at least hold back her full fervor of acceptance.

I am neither one of these women. Or rather I am a combination of the two of them, so I get both of them to a degree, and neither one of them wholly.

message 28: by whichwaydidshego, the sage of sass (new)

whichwaydidshego | 1996 comments Mod
Oh my gosh, Kathryn! I'm the same with Mr. Knightly! I didn't really enjoy the book too much, but I just love him. Jeremy Northam was brilliant and edible in that role! I FAR prefer the story of Elizabeth and Darcy, but Knightly... I think he could make me swoon! LOL

message 29: by Kathryn (new)

Kathryn | 361 comments So good to hear some huzzahs for dear Mr. Knlightly (and Mr. Northam!) out there :->

message 30: by Kristel (new)

Kristel | 164 comments I have read almost all books Jane Austen ever wrote, Pride and Prejudice being my absolute favorite. But...some comment on one of my favourite authors: basically she always write about an almost poor family (well, not really poor, only with just enough to get by in early nineteenth century society mids), daughters in that family, and scoundrels like Willouhby (great scoundrel!) or Wickham (P&P) and the of course the hero who saves the day (the incredible mr. Darcy, so well played by dashing Colin Firth in the BBC adaptation!).

Spoiler - it also made me wonder, the blind faith that Elinor - distrusting as she was of Willoughby - had in Edward.

message 31: by whichwaydidshego, the sage of sass (new)

whichwaydidshego | 1996 comments Mod
Two things, Kristel...

First, was it really blind faith? Because to me she was able to see Edward's depth of character where she could only ever see surface with Willoughby. I don't think she was so naive as what "blind faith" connotes.

*****P&P SPOILERS*****
Also, do you really think that the hero in P&P is Mr. Darcy? I rather always fancied that it was Elizabeth. I mean, yes he takes care of the Lydia-Wickham situation, but while wonderful he is right, if he'd had less pride before it never could have happened. She was the one that both changed and helped him see his need to change. To me she was the hero of that story. Don't get me wrong, ADORE him for all he did... is also one om my all-time favorite books... but while I think what he did was wonderful, I never thought of Elizabeth as being "rescued" exactly. Okay, as I say it, I get your perspective. But I still see Elizabeth as the heroine.

message 32: by Alison, the guru of grace (new)

Alison | 1282 comments Mod
Just had to look back over the plot of Pride and Prejudice. I would agree that Elizabeth is the heroine. It certainly seemed to be "her" story. Mr. Darcy's just an unforgettable "leading man," thanks in no small part to Colin Firth.

S&S Ending SPOILER!!

I was looking around for some talking points on Sense and Sensibility, and I came across an interesting perspective. I read something that said that although both sisters are married at the end of Sense & is felt by many to be Austen's saddest novel. What does anyone make of this?

message 33: by Kristel (new)

Kristel | 164 comments I had the same idea about Sense and Sensibility, it was a sad novel. Especially Elinor seems to be so disappointed in life, a bit dreary, maybe even a bit worn out and on the other side: Marianne is so joyful in the beginning of the story and she becomes more adult, more of age, I don't know if that's an accurate description of what happens to Marianne, but again, life knocks here down I suppose, that's the feeling I got. And Marianne compromises...

Spoiler - P&P - although I must agree that Elisabeth is a heroine, I thought she did some compromising by marrying Darcy at the end. Was it true love, I really like to think so but the 10000 per annum maybe helped a little. But I still think that Darcy saved the day, Elisabeth was quite prejudiced in believing that evil Wickham for so long, of course his charming and witty personality made her besotted. Okay, Darcy was to damn proud, but really would anyone tell their family story just like that, especially in that time and age when keeping a facade was so important?

Generally I think that the heroine of Jane Austens books almost always makes a compromise a little at the end of each story. But then again, that makes her books so great.

message 34: by Hannah (new)

Hannah (hmatkins) Possible P&P and S&S spoilers: I would have to say that I think Sense and Sensibility would be considered Austen's sadest novel simply because of how hard the characters experience hardship in the their troubles before resolution. In P&P, Elisabeth didn't have Darcy before the resolution, but the Lydia-Wickham situation had been resolved and Jane had Bingly. I guess to me, it didn't seem like the sisters were in great sadness for very long. But in Sense and Sensibility, Elinor knows for a long time about Edward-Lucy connection and she constantly has to hold it in. Then you have Marianne who gets hurt, and that resolution takes a while for her to be ok. I don't know, it just seems to me that in Sense and Sensibility, both characters have "loved and lost" for longer than I think Austen made her characters "lose" in every other book she wrote. I don't know; it's just my thought. Either way, I enjoyed both of them. :)

And as to Darcy vs. Elisabeth being the hero/heroine of the story. I do think that Elisabeth is a heroine because she helps Darcy see his prideful ways. But also, Elisabeth is extremely prejudice and very opinionated. She's not willing to give Darcy a second chance and is quite cruel to him when he proposes (kind of rightfully so, but still). I think that Darcy helped Elisabeth overcome her prejudice and learn some things about people as well. Maybe it's because I am a romantic, but I like to think that they helped each other grow, were hero heroine to each other, which, I consider a good quality in a relationship. It's definately Elisabeth's story, but I do think that Darcy in many ways, saves her.

message 35: by whichwaydidshego, the sage of sass (new)

whichwaydidshego | 1996 comments Mod
*********LIKELY P&P SPOILERS*********

Hmm. I guess I always thought that Elizabeth saved herself. That's why I love her so much - she was strong and resolute, yet when proven wrong was more than willing to change her mind and admit her faults. Of course Darcy's change effected her change, but I didn't think he "saved" her.

I NEVER felt, in all my readings of the book, that Elizabeth compromised. Quite the contrary! I thought that Darcy became what she had always wanted. Maybe it's the romantic in ME, but I've always felt the slow gradual change to love. (Heck, I go through it with her!) I think that the fact that Jane was marrying Bingley made it clear that she was secure should she decided never to marry - she didn't NEED an income anymore to survive. Her sister had enough to care for her - and the heart to do so.

In fact, I think of all Austen's characters, that Elizabeth stayed the most true to herself. (Okay, maybe Elinor is a rival.) She had her opinions altered, but she always seemed someone ready to admit her faults once she recognized them.

Sorry. This is supposed to be about S&S!! LOL This is just so much fun talking about this with you, too!

*********POTENTIAL S&S SPOILERS***********

I'd never thought of Elinor as disappointed in life, or worn out. I mean, I see her character as proper and quiet. In that propriety, she doesn't let her feelings reveal themselves, but she isn't denying them. The fact that she holds to that love for Edward even when her hopes seem dashed shows me hope in life, not disappointment.

Maybe it's just easier for those of us in modern society to think of her that way because we can't fathom that kind of reserve. We are a society that is all about candor, to put it mildly. We often mock and ridicule rather than understand or embrace a person who clings so fiercely to politeness and societal civility. Or maybe it's just the opposite, we DO mock and ridicule people who are out of that standard, but the standard has flip-flopped and now we devalue those who espouse propriety.

Can I ask, how do you see Elinor compromising?

I think Marianne is so altered by her disappointments, and no one grieves that fact more than Brandon... he loved that youthful vigor and overt nature and wanted to strenuously protect it. I thought, in her facing such hurt, she saw Brandon for the self-sacrificing, giving, caring person he was... she saw that in her rush to judgment, she missed his depths. Looking at the surface will do that. I thought that her love with him, while less impassioned to the outsider looking in, was perhaps settled on a deeper level and was no less real - and certainly more lasting.

Plus, in the end, didn't he really be that knight in shining armor she'd always wished for on a far less superficial level that carrying her down a hill with a twisted ankle? That's I think the gorgeousness of this book... how Willoughby and Brandon mirror each other, but on entirely different levels. Brandon's opinions are equally strong, but he is not so course as to speak ill of those around him. Even if he would be proved right, he'd not want to hurt others. He quietly cares for those around him, not lavishing flinging words and sentiment about that in the end could not be backed up even if heartfelt in the moment. I completely see how many could think that Marianne compromised, but I think that really, she did just the opposite.

Yea! Let's keep this great discussion up!

message 36: by Alison, the guru of grace (new)

Alison | 1282 comments Mod
I agree, Michele...Brandon was a true gentleman...choosing the right time to speak, the right time to remain quiet, the right time to act. And Willoughby was such a caricature of the romantic hero. With none of the heart.

Some hardships experienced by the girls:

Dad dies and their older step-brother get's the lion's share of the money. They have to leave the place they love (after having been made to feel like unwanted guests) and move into a tiny cottage. (I know this sounds materialistic to us, but there were FOUR of them, and they were used to living so differently).

Marianne gets her heart broken. I think she is physically weakened by her heartbreak, and almost dies as a result of all she suffers. (That's a very sad scene with Elinor nursing her, she's all feverish and calling for mom...very close to death). By the time she hooks up with Colonel Brandon, she's a broken woman.

Elinor has to go through the emotional torment of hearing that the man she loves is secretly engaged to someone else. And then thinking that he's married. All of that time she's suffering and not telling anyone. How sweet is it when Marianne finds out, and is so sad that she's been going on and on, while Elinor has been absorbing her own misfortune so stoically?

They have to put up with all the teasing and prodding from Mrs. Jennings. ARG! That woman. (Love her & Mr. Jennings in the movie.)

I think of all of Austen's novels (especially the light, almost silly romp that is Northanger Abbey), this does have some of the darker moments.

message 37: by Kristel (new)

Kristel | 164 comments First of all, thanks for the enjoyable discussion in this tread :)

S&S Spoiler - I think Elinor kind of makes a compromise when she marries Edward after all. He is to me I have to admit a rather dull character without a backbone. I mean, he's only freed from his secret engagement to Lucy when she runs of with another guy. Kind of lame. Does Elinor really deserve a husband like that? That's why I think she compromises or is she really besotted with that rather dull guy? Let's forget for arguments sake that Hugh Grant played Edward in the movie because, oh my, Hugh Grant, a man that only becomes sexier as he ages! sorry for the sidetrack, me going nuts over Hugh Grant.

The remark posted above by Alisson about Elinor made me think: Elinor absorbed her misfortune really quite calm, maybe she's to practical for being misguided by love and marrying Edward after all is just rather practical in her book.

I agree that S&S truly is on of the saddest stories with many dark moments. Marianne being betrayed by Willoughby like that after playing with her feelings and almost giving her a bad reputation was just awful, predictable him being a golddigger, but truly sad. But indeed, your right, Marianne did not compromise, she realized that knights in shining armors come in lot's of different forms, like quiet Brandon.

message 38: by Hannah (new)

Hannah (hmatkins) Ok... one last thing about P&P and I'll stay with S&S: I think, now that we've talked about it, I agree with the fact that Elizabeth is a very independent and strong character. In her own way, it makes sense that she saved herself (in her ability to change her opinions of others). I guess what I meant is that Darcy "saves" her in his helping her to see the need for change. We were talking about this concept in my British Lit class (which we are studying Sense and Sensibility, and I"m loving it). There is a poem by Matthew Arnold called "The Buried Life" that talks about how love can act as a mirror to oneself and help people have clarity about life and themselves. Here's just a small quote. I loved the poem, so if you're interested, you should check it out. But here's my small tangent:

"When a beloved hand is laid in ours,
When, jaded with the rush and glare
Or the interminable hours,
Our eyes can in another's eyes read clear
When our world-deafened ear
Is by the tones of a loved voice caressed --
A bolt is shot back somewhere in our breast,
And a lost pulse of feeling stirs again.
The eyes sinks inward, and the heart lies plain,
And what we mean, we say, and what we would, we know.
A man becomes aware of his life's flow,
And hears its winding murmur; and he sees
The meadows where it glides, the sun, the breeze.

And there arrives a lull in the hot race
Wherein he doth for ever chase
That flying and elusive shadow, rest.
An air of coolness plays upon his face,
And an unwonted calm pervades his breast.
And then he thinks he knows
The hills where his life rose,
And the sea where it goes."

So, in conclusion to my tangent: I agree with you guys that Elizabeth did save herself - after all I think that most character change requires the person to "save him or herself" at least to some extent. I've never thought about it that way, and I guess I come to the conclusion that Darcy didn't save Elizabeth in the fact that she was the damsel in distress and he was the knight in shining armor. Perhaps, even if he never showed his love again and they didn't get married in the end, she still would have gone through that character change. She didn't need him, I guess. But he was a good addition to her. I'm sorry if that was confusing. I was thinking as I was typing. :)

And on S&S: AMEN! to all of your latest comments. I completely agree with the discussion of Brandon. I did my high school term paper on Sense and Sensibility. And one of my major points was how both Elinor and Marianne learned to not be so extreme in their emotions (Marianne as sensibility, and Elinor as sense). (it was an immature argument in some respects, but I do think the point is valid here.) Marianne's love for Willoughby was extremely passionate. I can't say for sure that there is something wrong with very passionate relationships, but I have always observed that extremely passionate relationships tend to burn out quickly. And those that don't have a seed of depth that shows itself through the passion. Anyway, I believe that though Marianne and Willoughby loved each other (which I do believe that he loved her with an immature love that wasn't not enough to change his character), I believe that the love that Marianne and Brandon share is more longlasting because of the depth that it contained. Brandon loved Marianne through the hardship and the good, while Willoughby only loved her in the good (the poem-reciting, long-walks-in-the-countryside, beautiful-carriage-rides, carrying-her-over-the-hills good). Ultimately, I don't believe that she compromised because I think that Brandon had passion in a more subtle sense. I believe she came out on top.

YAH for awesome discussions!

message 39: by Deborah (new)

Deborah | 283 comments For Austen to work for me, she has to pull me into her world. That didn't happen with S&S. So I'm left viewing the plot and characters as a post modern feminist, not a comfortable fit.

It isn't that my contemporaries haven't fallen for, shed copious tears for and eaten whole cheese cakes over their own Willoughbys. The difference is that, in most cases, they have to get up and go to work the next day. They have lives and livelihoods (or at least the opportunity for same) of their own. This is not true at the turn of the 19th century. Look at the horror that the Dashwood women have of being forced to become governesses. The "fish without a bicycle" certainly did not apply. Women, especially women at the top of an oppressive class system, were dependent on (and therefore at the mercy of) men for survival.

By the time he meets Marianne, Willoughby had already, and apparently without the least pang of conscience and without any censure by society, ruined one young woman. Only Col Brandon condemns him for his actions. Willoughby's aunt most likely saved Marianne's life.

Which brings me to what I think is an interesting point. The women whom Austen presents in the most unfavorable light - Willoughby's aunt, Edwards mother, Mrs. John Dashwood (did she even have a name of her own?) and Lucy, are the only women in the book who ever exercise any real power, either by controlling purse strings or through manipulation.

It's easy to think that Austen writes about romantic love, as we define it. I don't think this is true. What she portrays as real love, as opposed to the infatuation that Marianne had with Willoughby, is actually suitability. Elinor does not love Edward in any romantic sense, but sees him as a compatible soul, someone she can live with. Col Brandon seems to get Marianne by default and, by this time, she probably sees in him something of a father figure, someone who will look after her once Elinor is married.

And I will never understand, when Willoughby comes to Elinor with his "apology" (which is really just whining because he's realized that he might have been able to have his cake and eat it, too), that, Elinor, knowing what she knows of him, doesn't, instead of half forgiving him, break his damn nose!

message 40: by whichwaydidshego, the sage of sass (new)

whichwaydidshego | 1996 comments Mod
Anyway, I believe that though Marianne and Willoughby loved each other (which I do believe that he loved her with an immature love that wasn't not enough to change his character)...

Hannah, I really liked the idea that the reason their love was immature was that it wasn't enough to change his character. The reason I like it is not that he had to leave her, because honestly inheritance was vital back then (finding work that supports was not much of a possibility for gentry), but the way he left her. He was not forthright or honest. He left her believing, rather than freeing her, thus stretching out her pain (and nearly killing her).

I've obviously read the book before, but this time around I'm in the midst of the part where Mrs. Dashwood (I can't believe she is meant to be my age) and Elinor are grasping for understanding of his actions because they were so inconsistent by being hidden. His character was inconsistent with them, but not changed (we know this when we find out what he'd already hidden).

Brandon loved Marianne through the hardship and the good, while Willoughby only loved her in the good... I like that as well. Willoughby, aside from being a cad, was a weak, wimpy milksop most of all because he didn't even try to win his Mrs. Smith over to Marianne's side. He could not be consistent in his love, but gave up at the first sign of trouble. As passionate at it was, Marianne was very, very lucky to be free of him rather than discover too late what he really was. I think what pisses me off most about this book is how she excuses him when all is discovered. But then, that shows HER very real character. She could be true, he couldn't.

Oh, and great poem, Hannah.

The women whom Austen presents in the most unfavorable light... are the only women in the book who ever exercise any real power, either by controlling purse strings or through manipulation. GREAT observation, but don't you think, Deb, that she shows that in the end, real character shows itself enough that it can win even over manipulation? Also, that no happiness, or even contentment, is found there? And that even with all their power, they still don't always win their way because these women of character stand tall and the right finds it's way? They may thwart for a time, but not forever. (I had a much more lucid thought on this, which is why I started it, but it completely left me as I began typing. HATE that.)

While I think your point on suitability is valid, Deb, I have to disagree. At least on the Col. Brandon part. Maybe I'm just a fool, but I really see a realization of his heart and the deep passions that do reside there on the part of Marianne. Maybe that's the romantic in me, but I love that bit so I'm holding to it.

And I'm with you on not appreciating this book as much as most of her others because it shows most glaringly the lack of options women had at that time. (Even the men of gentry were very limited and often couldn't help themselves.) It's so appalling to our sensibilities that it's very hard to relate to. All of her books hover around this theme, but this one drags us through it... we have to learn patience and have a quiet faith with this one (be like Elinor) to come out the other side.

That lends me to a really interesting thought... how the stories carry, how what we as readers have to go through in the story, is reflective of the personae of the main character. It's a subtle difference, but it's not what they go through, but how Austen writes it so that we have to wait or rush headlong in the story as the main character would. Does that make sense?

I don't know if this will clear it up or make it harder to understand, but I'll try to explain... We have to quietly endure for and extended period in S&S. Austen didn't have to write it that way, we could have known ahead or been given more as it continued, but she writes it in such a way to reflect how the main character, in this case Elinor, faces things. In P&P we have a much more fun go because Elizabeth is fun and witty. Her experience is loud and impatient (being in that family), so we get much of that. Her readiness to accept when she is proven wrong is part of how we experience it as well. (We understand that far more than quite endurance and faith, so we relate more.)

message 41: by Deborah (new)

Deborah | 283 comments Michele - I think what I was trying to say about power is that within Austen's framework, women could only exercise indirect power, and the women I mentioned did that totally and selfishly for their own ends. I think Elinor exhibited great character, and certainly had the power of her convictions, as did Edward. Fortunately for them, Lucy's manipulation cast a wider net for her ambition, freeing Edward. And really, somebody should have popped Willoughby in the kisser!

message 42: by Kristel (new)

Kristel | 164 comments Deborah and Michele - I agree with you that Austen often portrays strong, controlling women with indirect forms of power as unfavorable. This was most clear to me in Mansfield Park, but also with manipulative Lucy Steel and Fanny, the evil sister-in-law. I also think this kind of power has nothing to do with the strength of the personalities of the heroines, more a kind of power of what someone can achieve by pulling a few strings. Almost none of the heroines in Austens books have this kind of power, but they do have strength. And I must agree in that timeframe women were dependent on men, they were made dependent. Arranging a suitable marriage was a thing one could hope and pray for. And maybe that's true also, marriages weren't as much about true love, but more about suitability, a women made a good match if she found a companion with whom she could spent te rest of her life in comfort.

spoiler - P&P's good example to demonstrate this: Charlotte Lucas and Mr. Collins

message 43: by whichwaydidshego, the sage of sass (new)

whichwaydidshego | 1996 comments Mod
Reading those last two comments after having just finished re-watching the 1939 film "The Women," I have this crazy spin on it. But I won't go into it. (Good film. You all should see it. Fascinating stuff to compare to our modern culture when they talk about that very thing - modern culture regarding women and their role.)

It's a far more lasting theme than we realize (referring to the previous comments). The type of power, the dependence, all of it. No wonder it still resonates today. As different as society is, even in those ways it is valid still.

message 44: by Deborah (last edited Sep 16, 2008 09:27AM) (new)

Deborah | 283 comments Michelle, your comment about the Cukor movie "The Women" made me think of a book called "The Group" by Mary McCarthy. It follows the lives of women in I believe the late 1950s, early 1960s, all graduates of one of the 7 Sisters, I think maybe Vassar. It gives a very interesting look at women's roles prior to the feminist movement in the 1970s. I think that things changed radically for women in the wake of WWII. During that time women discovered that they could indeed do "men's" work. Although during the 1950s, society tried to put the genie back in the bottle, by the late 1960s, June Cleaver (Beaver's mom) was no longer a viable construct.

message 45: by Dottie (new)

Dottie (oxymoronid) | 698 comments This is out this week supposedly:

message 46: by Kristel (new)

Kristel | 164 comments In that one movie "Mona Lisa Smiles", they also talked about womens emancipation. It hasn't been an easy road and I still think that there is ground to be covered yet (I am from Belgium btw, a small european country and altough women and men are supposedly equal still there aren't for instance many women who hold CEO-functions in my country, mostly male dominated).

Back to Jane - it puzzles me a bit why she never wrote about a women who became a spinster, like she herself did. She was afterall a very independent woman in her time. I think Elinor would have made an excellent spinster btw.

WWII really had a big impact on society, but it I think it started after WWI, women then went to work as typist (typing was considered as "brainless" work so suitable for women!), worked at offices for the first time...

message 47: by Dottie (new)

Dottie (oxymoronid) | 698 comments It's much the same still everywhere -- though things are better, they still aren't in balance. I have been seeing the ads for the remake -- the link I posted -- and it looks very interesting -- I will get Sense and Sensibility from the library one day this week -- it looks like I need to fill in my Jane Austen gap some more. I have to be dragged to Austen for some reason!

message 48: by whichwaydidshego, the sage of sass (new)

whichwaydidshego | 1996 comments Mod
Oh Dottie, that's so sad!

message 49: by Deborah (new)

Deborah | 283 comments Dottie - have you read The Jane Austen Book Club? It's not the greatest book in the world, but it certainly puts you in an Austen frame of mind.

message 50: by Dini, the master of meaning (last edited Sep 16, 2008 10:45PM) (new)

Dini | 691 comments Mod
First of all, GREAT discussion we have here. I agree that the main characters in the novel experience a lot of hardships. And I echo all of your comments about Colonel Brandon -- what a quiet, sincere, upstanding gentleman. But the issue I have with this novel is with Edward.

I mentioned earlier that I was confused with the blind trust Elinor has for Edward. I can understand Michele's take on it (as described in message 27) that his character is more favorable when compared to Willoughby. But I still think Elinor has a right to be a little angry at Edward for not telling her about his prior engagement. He basically led her, her family and all of their acquaintances to believe that he had romantic intentions for her (the very same thing Willoughby did), when he actually is not free to do so in the first place. To me this is not a hallmark of an honest character. I was really not satisfied when in the end Elinor only scolded him lightly, "harshly as ladies always scold the imprudence which compliments themselves". Of course, by then she was too busy being happy that Edward is now free to marry her.

Edward also said he first got engaged with Lucy because he had nothing to do at the time and have never seen enough of the world to make comparisons: "Lucy appeared everything that was amiable and obliging. I had seen so little of other women, that I could make no comparisons, and see no defects... till I began to make comparisons between yourself and Lucy, I did not know how far I was got." This seemed very inconstant to me. Does it mean that if in the future he gets an opportunity to see even more of the world, and meet women who are more attractive than Elinor, he would have another change of heart?

Oh but I do think he is a man of honor, as he kept to his engagement and didn't dump Lucy even after he was disowned by his family. However, I was not happy with his dishonesty and inconstancy in relationships. It also bugs me that he and Willoughby are so easily forgiven in this book, although of course the latter's offense was of a more severe nature.

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