Sense And Sensibility 2 Essay, Research Paper
Jane Austin s novel Sense and Sensibility focuses on the struggles of the Dashwood daughters when they are left with little money after their father dies. The lack of any kind of dowry leaves the future marital status of the girls uncertain. However marriage looks hopeful for Marianne when she meets wealthy Willoughby and he begins to court her. He is from an affluent family and shows great affection for Marianne and her family who are living in near poverty. All of Willougby s actions indicate that he will propose to Marianne and that the Dashwood s lack of wealth is not an issue. Willougby does love Marianne, but knows that this is not a good enough reason for him to marry her. Austin depicts the scene where Willougby expresses that he has no intentions of continuing a relationship with Marianne and her family as a sensible decision for himself. He leads the Dashwoods to believe that it was only the power of their own imaginations that lead them to see an interest that he never intended for he could never carry permanent company with their class in society. This scene depicts the overall theme of the novel, which is the harsh dividing of social classes and the importance to some to keep them separated. Through the character of Willoughby, Austin demonstrates that she understands how the power of the intellect as beneficial. Hannah More also shows through the male character in her poem on the same subject matter that he too uses the power of intellect.
Marianne desperately wants Willoughby for a husband. He is young, handsome, exciting and shares many similar interests. And of course he comes from a wealthy family. He courts Marianne the way a potential suitor does and leads her and her family to believe that a proposal will certainly occur. He is very openly attentive to Marianne in the presence of others and treats her as a lover. He comes to their home, and even takes her to the home that will one day be his own through inheritance. Willoughby also shows his romantic inclinations such as when he takes of lock of Marianne s hair. The day that it is assumed Willoughby will propose to Marianne takes a drastic turn when he drops the bomb that he is leaving town with no intentions of coming back any time soon. He tries to skip around the real reason that he is leaving them until he is asked several questions that he will not truthfully answer. He then becomes embarrassed and arrogantly tells them that he will not tolerate being questioned in such manner.
Mrs. Dashwood was too much astonished to speak, and another pause succeeded. This was broken by Willoughby, who said with a faint smile, It is folly to linger in this manner. I will not torment myself any longer by remaining among friends whose society it is impossible for me now to enjoy (59)
This slight smile and his words show that he considers his place in society above theirs and implies that if they see differently that they must have been imagining things. He then rushes out the door and leaves them in utter confusion about his behavior. The Dashwoods are baffled about how they could have imagined his actions as anything but a sincere courtship towards Marianne. They come to the conclusion that although he loved Marianne, but it was never his intention to marry her because then he too would not have wealth.
This scene depicts the overall context of the novel. The entire novel contemplates the notion of whether it is better to marry for love or for money, and which one is more important for a fulfilling life. Willoughby believes that money will provide him with a more gentile way of life and therefore chooses that it is more important than his love for Marianne. For Willoughby s family keeping wealth within a certain circle of society is very important. If one chooses to marry someone out of the society circle the consequences will be the stripping of inheritance.
The power of intellect is beneficial for Willoughby for he uses it as a way to try to sensibly make a quick exit from the Dashwood family. He rationalizes his behavior by claiming that he cannot possibly continue his relationship with Marianne due to his social and affluent status. Willoughby justifies his decision on an intellectual level for he cannot imagine a life with out money. Austin illustrates Willoughby s so called sensible, intellectual decision much in the way that Thomas Hobbes claims in A Glossary of Literary Terms. He describes what he believes the literature of sensibility represents, that a human being is innately selfish and that the mainsprings of human behavior are self-interest and the drive for power and status (190). Austin clearly shows this notion through the character of Willoughby of what the literature of sensibility represents.
The man mentioned in the Hannah More s poem is much like Willoughby for he too leads a girl on and then leaves her grieving and searching for answers as to why he left.
Alive to every woe by friction dresses,
The innocent he wronged, the wretch distressed,
May plead in vain; their suffrings come not near,
Or he leaves them cheaply with a tear (30)
Like Willoughby, this man cares little about the feelings of the one he as wronged. He gives no explanation for his behavior, only the pathetic offering of a tear for his condolences.
Both of these pieces show how one can use the power of intellect to determine and make decisions in their lives. They also use this is justify their actions, which are often cruel, hurtful and self-serving. Social status often plays a huge role in the determination of how sensible one will be in these situations. Clearly both characters use their intellect instead of their hearts to pave the road for their future.