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Free Study Guide-Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen-Free Book Notes
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OVERALL ANALYSES

AUTHOR'S STYLE

Sense and Sensibility was the first novel written by Jane Austen and hence it reflects the views and ideas of a young girl of twenty-two. It includes autobiographical elements, as do other novels written by her. Jane Austen had only one sister, Cassandra, and the two were very attached. The bond that existed between Jane and Cassandra is to be found between Elinor and Marianne. The two heroines of the novel also resemble their real- life counterparts in their nature and attitude. Elinor possesses the good sense of Cassandra and the cordiality of Jane. Marianne displays Jane's love for reading, music and dance. The setting of the novel is also based on actual locations. The Dashwoods' cottage at Barton in Devonshire resembles Jane Austen's house at Steventon in Hampshire.

Jane Austen trod on familiar territory and did justice to it. All her novels are written in and around London, the city Austen was familiar with. She writes about families belonging to the upper- middle class, to which she herself belonged. The problems her heroines face were similar to those faced by the girls of her society in early nineteenth-century England. Austen convincingly enhances her limited sphere through a realistic portrayal of settings and characters.


All the novels of Austen display some degree of satire, effectively used in exposing the hypocrisy of individuals and society. Her satire operates at different levels. Sometimes it is targeted directly at individuals like John Dashwood and his wife, Fanny Dashwood. Whenever Austen presents John Dashwood, she points out his conspicuous mercenary attitude and makes him appear as a caricature blinded by money. His wife is portrayed as a scheming woman, driven by avarice. Sometimes the satire is subtle, as in the sketches of Sir John and Lady Middleton, whose idle existence Austen highlights. Through crude jokes and spicy gossip, Mrs. Jennings is depicted as being blatantly comic. In the case of Edward and Elinor, who are blissfully happy but wish for "better pasturage for their cows," the author's attitude is gently satiric.

Jane Austen brought new depths to the English novel through her insight into human psychology. She explored the novel's potential by creating a crucial link between the eighteenth- century novel of society and the psychological novel of the nineteenth century. A critic has said, "Her motive for writing, and the function of her wit and irony, is to strip reality of individual distortions. Her prescription for the dislocation of fantasy and reality is a clarity of vision and rational interpretation of evidence that can come only with a selfless concern for others." Jane Austen is a realistic novelist whose works reflect the society of the early nineteenth century but whose Themes have a timeless appeal.

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