ENG 340 Sense and Sensibility Paper

Submitted By Amajna
Words: 944
Pages: 4

Amina Mesic
Dr. Adams, Theresa
ENG 340 A
10th March 2015
Dashwood Sisters: Intellectual Women of 19th Century Many critiques would argue how Jane Austen's feminist ideology in Sense and Sensibility was exceptionally progressive and advanced considering the time period she lived in. Others, however, would argue how she advantageously and successfully manages to establish the balance between what women of the 19th century were expected to be, and what they actually were and wanted to be. Furthermore, in her article “Taste: Gourmets and Ascetics,” Isobel Armstrong states how Jane Austen represents the characters of Dashwood sisters as “being deliberately presented as thinking, articulate and intellectually aware” (365) and entitles them as “intellectual women” of the 19th century. Moreover, from the novel itself it is evident that Austen's depiction of her female characters, particularly Dashwood sisters, does epitomize the contentment and the struggle of being a desired women. In addition to this, Austen herself uses Elinor and Maureen characters to display the importance of intelligence being a characteristic associated with women rather than only men. In her novel Sense and Sensibility, by giving Dashwood sisters the characteristics of reasons, sentiments, and intellect Jane Austen is challenging and reshaping the ideas of typical gender stereotypes and gender norms of the 19th century. In the 19th century the definition of proper lady, and how to become one and behave as one came to be one of the most important and the most required qualities of women for establishing fertile ground for desirable marriage and family, as marriage and family life were the greatest achievements women could possibly wish for at the time. In her novel Sense and Sensibility Austen does place an emphasize on importance of marriage and family for the status of women in the 19th century; however, she also challenges the same ones by giving her main characters, Dashwood sisters, the qualities of intellectual women by creating a balance between their senses and sensibilities. From Austen's novel one can argue how Elinor, the older Dashwood sister is the one that follows and trusts her sense quite more than her sensibility. Austen seems to shower Elinor's character with great amount of sense as she describes her as “eldest daughter, whose advice was so effectual, possessed a strength of understanding, and coolness of judgment, which qualified her, though only nineteen, to be the counselor of her mother...” (Chapter I, 4). However, Austen also portrays younger Dashwood sister, Maureen, as “sensible and clever; but eager in everything: her sorrows, her joys, could have no moderation. She was generous, amiable, interesting: she was everything but prudent” (Chapter I, 5). Furthermore, in her article Armstrong argues how Dashwood sisters are “both associated with sense..., just as they are both associated with sensibility at other time in the novel” (364). From these examples one can see how both, Elinor and Maureen at certain occasion can be seen and understood as both, sense and sensible, but moreover as intelligent women having either potential or capability of distinguishing what is “real” and what is “unreal”, as well as when to let their reason, and when to let their sensibility owerpower them, and opposite. Moreover, it seems like Austen is trying to emphasize an importance of desire for independence of her female characters in order to show how women of the 19th century did oppose those typical social and gender norms and expectations. She gives Dashwood sisters the title of intelligent, critical, artistic, and passionate females by making them interested in politics, economics, poetry, as well as by giving them the power of capability, such as Elinor's capability of holding down their family. Austen further describes Elinor as a person with “an excellent…