Jane Austen: Sense and Sensibility

‘The more I know of the world, the more am I convinced that I shall never see a man whom I can really love. I require so much!’

Marianne Dashwood wears her heart on her sleeve, and when she falls in love with the dashing but unsuitable John Willoughby she ignores her sister Elinor’s warning that her impulsive behaviour leaves her open to gossip and innuendo. Meanwhile Elinor, always sensitive to social convention, is struggling to conceal her own romantic disappointment, even from those closest to her. Through their parallel experience of love—and its threatened loss—the sisters learn that sense must mix with sensibility if they are to find personal happiness in a society where status and money govern the rules of love.

This edition includes explanatory notes, textual variants between the first and second editions, and Tony Tanner’s introduction to the original Penguin Classic edition.

It’s no surprise that Pride and Prejudice is an all-time favorite of mine. So many of us fell in love with Mr. Darcy at a young age, and we just never really let go of that crush. But I’ve had a hard time getting into some of Austen’s other books. Emma I like, but everything will always fall short of P&P.

Sense and Sensibility probably would have been better titled as Nonsense and Secrets Destroy Your Life.

I.

Was.

So.

CONFUSED.

Everyone is love with the wrong person in this book, which seemed that it would have been solved simply if they would stop keeping secrets from everybody else. Oh, this person is engaged already to this person, and this person is engaged already to this person, but not really because no one knows it and they aren’t ACTUALLY engaged, he just has a lock of her hair.

WHAT THE WHAT.

The only honest person in the whole freaking book is Colonel Brandon–who I might be even more in love with now than Mr. Darcy. If we all had a Colonel Brandon in our lives, we’d all be SO much better off.

Instead we all have Willoughbys and Wickhams.

By the end of this, I was skimming, so I took to Hulu to watch the 2008 version–and it made much more sense in movie format. Still, the only real result is that I fell even more in love with Colonel Brandon, and everyone else seemed much more the mess. Of course, in true Jane Austen fashion, it all turns right in the end, but goodness she does like to torture her lovers, doesn’t she?

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Mansfield Park

When I added Mansfield Park to my TBR list, I was excited because I was finally going to get to read a third Jane Austen novel. I’ve read Pride & Prejudice a million times, and Emma twice now, but that’s as far as I’ve gotten so far.

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Or so I thought.

Apparently, I’ve picked this book up before, and read at least the first half. I had major book dejavou. I remembered Fanny and William and Edward. I remember the play being practiced. That was about as far as I got though, everything after that was unfamiliar.

I was expecting another romance from Austen, similar to the above two books. So when Mr. Crawford started playing for Fanny’s attention in the second half…I figured he’d win in the end. After all, Darcy and Mr. Knightley were both pretty patient, right?

But Mansfield Park is really a completely different book, really more relatable to something you’d see in a 90s teen movie than in an 1800 romance. You have a young woman with social anxiety who just wants to be helpful and loving to everyone she meets. Her best friend of course is in love with the popular girl. PG’s brother is a flirty stud (see:  fuckboy) who all the ladies want, but when Fanny gets a new dress she suddenly becomes beautiful in his eyes and he “must make her fall in love with him” before he leaves in two weeks. Fanny doesn’t trust him, doesn’t want his attention, and when he screws up, some how that’s her fault. (See again:  fuck.boy.)

Ah well, it all turns out ok in the end, as Jane Austen novels always do. I liked this one, though. Definitely not what I expected at all, and it makes me even more excited to read the rest of her books, if they are all going to be so different.

 

Fulfill’s Boxall #82

Jane Eyre

I keep seeing this post floating around on Tumblr about how Charlotte Bronte fell in love with Jane Fairfax from Emma, and so she wrote a fanfiction about her as a governess. I don’t know if it’s true or not, but that post was enough to get me to read both Emma and Jane Eyre somewhat back to back!

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This is my second read-through (I listened to the audiobook when I was in college), and I love Jane Eyre even more now than I did the first time. Of course I always get more from a book by actually reading than listening.

Jane is such a prim, proper, plain-looking character. If you look up an images search of the way she’s been portrayed over the years, she always looks so delicate. But Jane Eyre is anything but soft. She maybe a woman with very strict ideals–but she fights for those ideals with conviction and a steady conscience. Not much can sway her.

This book is so much more than a love story. Of course, the romance is there, but that really isn’t the important part of the narrative. What else do we have?

  1. Child abuse
  2. Poverty
  3. Epidemic
  4. Feminism
  5. Mental Illness
  6. Importance of family ties and friendship
  7. Hypocrisy
  8. Disability

And the list could go on and on, but this is the major stuff that I noticed. All this from a Victorian/Gothic novel. You don’t see that happen to often.

I did have one question to pose, maybe someone out there can answer it for me.

One thing I am always curious about with 1800s women’s literature is why they never give the names of places (and sometimes dates). It’s always –shire or S(…setting). Is it a lack of creativity regarding places, or was there some unspoken rule about listing where the setting was? London is always mentioned, and Bath, but anywhere else is left to mystery. It’s always so frustrating to me, and I can not help but wonder why this is!

Emma

It is no secret that Pride and Prejudice is one of my favorite books. However, I am sadly lacking in most of Austen’s other books. Some I’ve started and haven’t finished, and some I just haven’t got to yet.

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I have a matched pair of P&P and Emma, but this is only my second read through of the latter. It just does not measure up to my beloved OTP. I feel like Jane Austen made a list of every single thing she found ridiculous in her gender, and said “OK, that’s my main character.” Emma is vain, selfish, spoiled, and dense.

I was having a really hard time getting through it and then I realized…Holy Crap this book is Clueless.

 

Mind blown. From then on, I just started comparing all the characters and it made it so much easier to read. Who knew that silly 90s movie would make literature fun? As if!