Pride And Prejudice, Sense And Sensibility Essay, Research Paper
Jane Austen s characters always undergo an event that morally changes their being. In Sense and Sensibility this moral change is obvious in Elinor and Marianne. The development of these adolescents into mature, reasonable adults is a gradual transformation seen in Sense and Sensibility. Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy begin Pride and Prejudice as arrogant and biased adults and end the story as liberal minded individuals.
In Sense and Sensibility the family has been forced to move from the plush lap of luxury into a more modest setting. Mr. Dashwood has just passed away. Since this was a patrilineal society, the eldest son, John Dashwood, inherits all of Mr. Dashwood s estate. John planed to live at Norland with his wife, Fanny Dashwood. Mrs. Dashwood and her three daughters needed to relocate. This is a significant adjustment for everyone involved. In addition to the move to Barton Cottage, the family is also experiencing a decline in their income and thus must live a more middle class existence.
Marianne was Mrs. Dashwood s middle daughter. She was 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. (Austen, pg5). Marianne was only seventeen and behaved as such. She was unable to hold back her feelings even in a social setting with friends. Mrs. Dashwood s disposition was similar to Marianne s. They were similar in the expression of emotions. After Henry Dashwood died Marianne and Mrs. Dashwood, encouraged each other now in the violence of their affliction. (Austen, pg 5). The phrase misery loves company comes to mind to explain how they would commiserate with each other.
Marianne was full of emotions and thoughts that she would not conceal. Her personality was the extreme opposite of Elinor s The moral development in Marianne has its roots in Willoughby, a young gentleman that rescues her from a fall on a mountainside near their new home. It was a very romantic scene when Willoughby, took her up in his arms without further delay, and carried her down the hill (Austen, p21). Marianne was excited at the whole situation especially since his manly beauty and more than common gracefulness were instantly the theme of general admiration (Austen, p21). Willoughby was now a fixture in the Dashwood s life, he called on them regularly. The relationship between Willoughby and Marianne developed rapidly just like a passionate adolescent infatuation. When he was present, she had no eyes for anyone else. Everything he did was right (Austen, p26).
A short time later Willoughby visits at Barton Cottage to tell the Dashwood s that I am unable to keep my engagement with you (Austen, p36). He is being sent off to London on business for Mrs. Smith, his aunt. He had no idea of returning into Devonshire immediately (Austen, p36). This behavior by Willoughby is seen as a most unfortunate event. The Dashwood s are very surprised at Willoughby s quick departure and Marianne is crushed.
When Marianne arrives in London her anticipation in seeing Willoughby again is great. She almost immediately sends a note to Willoughby. Her spirits still continued very high, but there was a flutter in them which prevented their giving much pleasure to her sister (Austen, p74). Marianne was behaving like a self centered, selfish teenager. Instead of being a gracious guest in Mrs. Jennings home, she was anxiously listening to the sound of every carriage (Austen, p74) and not giving any attention to the socially acceptable behavior that was expected of her. Colonel Brandon is a character that stands on the peripheral of the story while Willoughby breaks the heart of his ward and Marianne. Colonel Brandon had a very high regard for Marianne, but Marianne had no interest in an old man.
At a party shortly after their arrival to London, Marianne sees Willoughby. He is with another woman and tells them that he did receive the information that they were in town. He makes no attempt to continue the relationship that he left at Devonshire. Marianne absorbed this site and became dreadfully white, and unable to stand (Austen, p81). Marianne almost fully realizes that the situation with Willoughby is now ruptured completely. There was no hope of reconciliation. A letter arrived for Marianne from Willoughby that was so impudently cruel: a letter which, instead of bringing with his desire of a release any professions of regret, acknowledged no breach of faith, denied all peculiar affection proclaimed its writer to be deep in hardened villainy (Austen, p84). In the end Willoughby was a worthless, selfish man who needed to marry for money instead of for love. He was a high maintenance man who could not be sustained on happiness and love. The relationship with Willoughby was over and very painful for Marianne.
Marianne becomes deathly ill during a short stay at the Palmer s home. Marianne was languid and low from the nature of her malady, and feelings herself universally ill, could no longer hope that tomorrow would find her recovered (Austen, p141). A message was sent to Mrs. Dashwood and Colonel Brandon took the responsibility to carry the message. He stood by the whole time Marianne was sick and behaved like a responsible, caring and loving companion. During her recovery she realizes that her sister, her mother and all around her have been injured by her selfishness, I cannot express my own abhorrence of myself. Whenever I looked towards the past I saw some duty neglected, or some failing indulged (Austen, p159). Marianne in her new responsible manner realized that she would marry Colonel Brandon. She found her own happiness in forming his (Austen, p174). Marianne could never love by halves; and her whole hear became in time, as much devoted to her husband, as it had once been to Willoughby (Austen, p175). She had grown to know that a marriage based on friendship and mutual respect could be as rewarding and fulfilling as a marriage based on passionate infatuation.
Elinor was the eldest daughter, the most prudent and the most sensible. Elinor at nineteen years old was more rational then her mother. She had an excellent heart; her disposition was affectionate, and her feelings were strong: but she knew how to govern them: it was a knowledge which her mother had yet to learn, and which one of her sisters had resolved never to be taught (Austen, pg 5). Elinor was the dutiful, responsible caregiver of the family. She was able to hide her emotions in order to be socially respected. Her grace and prudence were discussed in many social circles.
Elinor undergoes a moral development through her exchanges with Edward, her brother in law. She first meets Edward at Norland, he is there visiting her sister, Fanny Dashwood. Mrs. Dashwood, considered their serious attachment as certain, and looked forward to their marriage as rapidly approaching (Austen, pg9). Mrs. Dashwood interpreted their behavior at Norland as a prelude to an engagement. Elinor does state, I think very highly of him that I greatly esteem him, that I like him (Austen, p11). Elinor s repression of emotion is so severe that she would not even allow herself to freely express her feelings in the company of her sister. Later in the story Elinor receives information that Edward has been engaged for four years to another women, Lucy Steele. Lucy is familiar to Elinor since she has relations at Devonshire and she was always willing to discuss Edward with Elinor. This may be because Lucy is aware of the possibility of a relationship between Edward and Elinor. This is an emotional blow to Elinor but she is able to hide this from her sister for months. The fact that Elinor can hide this information from her best friend, her sister, displays that she is emotionally cold and responsible to an extreme.
Elinor always remains composed and after she is aware of Edward s commitments to Lucy, she reflects on the situation. She never blames Edward for defrauding her. The youthful infatuation of nineteen would naturally blind him to everything but her beauty and good-nature; but the four succeeding years years which, if rationally spent, give such improvement to the understanding, must have opened his eyes to her defects of education; while the same period of time, spent on her side in inferior society and more frivolous pursuits, had perhaps robbed her of that simplicity which might once have given an interesting character to her beauty (Austen, pg64). Elinor has the adult ability to view a situation from the eyes of all participants. She is not biased and judges the character of Lucy and Edward with fairness. Elinor is able to construe Lucy s motives for being so interested in Edward, since he has significant wealth and can provide her with a very comfortable life. Elinor believes that self-interest alone could induce a woman to keep a man to an engagement of which she seemed so thoroughly aware that he was weary (Austen, pg 70). Lucy is aware that Edward may have lost interest but refuses to acknowledge his feelings for fear of her future.
Edward looses his fortune once his mother discovers his engagement to Lucy. Since she is of sub-par education and class, the engagement enrages Mrs. Ferrera. The engagement is called off and Lucy becomes interested in Robert, Edward s younger brother. She seduces him and they are soon married. Elinor is unaware of this event and is very melancholy. Edward visits her and tells her, perhaps you do not know-you may not have heard that my brother is lately married to-to the youngest-to Miss Lucy Steele (Austen, pg 165). Once Elinor processes this information she runs out of the room behaving very emotionally and joyfully. The weight of her knowledge and the length of time that she suffered all came to this one moment where emotion took over and her sensibility was abandoned. This is a breakthrough for Elinor fore she is showing emotion openly. This is the climax of her moral change. She realizes she will be able to marry for love and that had she shown her emotion earlier to Edward, he may have broken the previous engagement.
Pride and Prejudice occurs in two parallel worlds, the world of riches and the society of lower class people. Elizabeth Bennet and her family come from the country where they do not have much money. She is one of five daughters, which is a hardship on her family since she must be married or live in poverty after the future death of her father. Mr. Darcy is very wealthy; he is derived from the lap of luxury.
Upon Elizabeth first seeing Mr. Darcy she had decided his character and he was, the proudest, most disagreeable man in the world, and everybody hoped that he would never come there again (Austen, p183). She had not yet even spoken to him. She had been biased from the beginning because of his refined manner. He was not the most social creature and Elizabeth viewed that as a major flaw in character. Her prejudice towards him possibly came from her jealousy of his wealth; she only saw rudeness and conceit in Mr. Darcy.
The paths of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy are constantly crossing in Pride and Prejudice. Their first meeting is at a ball and is very brief. Upon the second meeting Mr. Darcy began to find Elizabeth s appearance a uncommonly intelligent by the beautiful expression of her eyes. To this discovery succeeded some others equally mortifying (Austen, p188). Mr. Darcy was ashamed to have any feeling of preference for Elizabeth since they came from two different worlds.
Elizabeth gathers all of the negative comments that she hears about Mr. Darcy and collects them to form her bad opinion this is her prejudice. She had very little actual conversation with Mr. Darcy, but the opinions of a soldier named Wickham she accepts as true. During a stay at the Collins residence, she happens to see Mr. Darcy again. Mr. Darcy says to Elizabeth, In vain I have struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you (Austen, p 266). This is Mr. Darcy s confession of love to Elizabeth; it does not have the positive connotations that a traditional profession of love usually holds.
Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy have a heated discussion. Elizabeth will under no circumstances marry and tells him, I had not known you a month before I felt that you were the last man in the world whom I could ever be prevailed on to marry (Austen, p268). This opinion of Mr. Darcy has been born from hearsay and gossip. If she were not so against him because of his outward behavior and appearance she may have been able to discount the rumors about Mr. Darcy as unreliable. She refused to decide for herself what kind of man Darcy was; she allowed the attitude of her peers become her own. This is a problem with all adolescents, peer pressure affects every part of their lives and Elizabeth was not mature enough to think for herself.
Mr. Darcy can comprehend why Elizabeth has such a terrible opinion of him based on her statements, he tells her, My faults, according to this calculation, are heavy indeed! (Austen, p267). He is astonished at Elizabeth s honesty, but is very disappointed and hurt by her denial. He has lived a very gifted life, few people have ever told him No! People who allowed him to do whatever he wanted have surrounded him. Elizabeth denying his proposal brings him back to reality and he begins to understand how Elizabeth, her family and friends perceive him. He now understands his prejudice.
The next day Elizabeth receives a lengthy letter from Mr. Darcy detailing each one of the faults she found in his character. Elizabeth finally thinks to herself, How differently did everything now appear in which he was concerned! (Austen, p275). She grew absolutely ashamed of herself (Austen, p275). Elizabeth now comes to an understanding about how cruel she has been to Darcy. She states vanity, not love, has been my folly (Austen, p275). Elizabeth and Darcy do not meet again for a while and Elizabeth has opportunity to reflect on her past emotions and actions. She thought of his regard with a deeper sentiment of gratitude than it had every raised before; she remembered its warmth, and softened its impropriety of expression (Austen, p293). She now has regrets over her denial of his proposal.
They soon meet again at Pemberly, the luxury estate of Mr. Darcy. Darcy s behavior had been drastically modified for the better. He was attentive and kind to his visitors. He wished Elizabeth to meet his sister and she that his wish of introducing his sister to her was a compliment of the highest kind (Austen, p296). Mr. Darcy has completely forgiven Elizabeth and is attempting to prove her opinion wrong. Elizabeth has broken her prejudice and realizes her fault.
Darcy comes to Longbourn and Elizabeth s mother comments on him, but else I must say that I hate the very sight of him (Austen, 333). Elizabeth has overcome her bad opinion of Darcy, but the rest of the family has not. After Elizabeth tells her mother of Darcy s proposal she says, We all know him to be a proud, unpleasant sort of man; but this would be nothing, if you really like him (Austen, p354). Her family is willing to allow the marriage to proceed, mostly for financial reasons.
These books show a maturation of character through the trials and tribulations that life grants. In each of these stories there are parallel worlds, one of upper class and one of the middle to lower class. They show that even though two people come from different worlds and have different financial positions, love will conquer all.