By Judy Simons (auth.)
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Additional resources for Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
We need to remember that she was writing at a time when the position of women in society was much more precarious than it is today and social compliance became a necessary form of protection .. Marriage was really the only career available to middle-class young ladies, who were otherwise dependent on their relatives for support. The Dashwood girls, although of good family, have no substantial income of their own. John Dashwood's concern that his sisters should find rich husbands springs partly from his worry that otherwise he might be expected to look after them.
Bear in mind Jane Austen's interest in self-knowledge. The move to London initiates a fresh stage in Marianne's education. Their respective attitudes to Mrs Jennings' invitation indicate the sisters' different personalities. Elinor is cautious; she wishes to avoid situations where she knows she might be hurt, and finds the prospect of seeing Edward (and Lucy) painful. Marianne on the other hand cannot anticipate danger: she dismisses all problems in the light of her enthusiasm for seeing Willoughby again.
Commentary Jane Austen uses different types of comedy in this book. Here, the situation between Elinor and Mrs Jennings borders on farce. Remember that Mrs Jennings, so eager to congratulate Elinor, has always assumed that Brandon was in love with Marianne. The scene between Elinor and Edward offsets this. Instead of mutual verbal confusion, it is full of mutual but unspoken understanding, the exact antithesis of what had gone before. Chapter 41 Lucy is vociferous in her gratitude to Elinor for facilitating her marriage.
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen by Judy Simons (auth.)