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Sense and Sensibility: A Novel of Moderation

In her first published novel, Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austin brought to life the spirit of being young, in love and living in the eighteenth century. Her story revealed the heartaches and happiness shared by Elinor Dashwood, who represented sense and her sister Marianne, who stood for sensibility. Both sisters felt strongly for what they unknowingly stood for, but each needed to reach a middle ground to find true happiness. It was not until the end of the novel, through marriage, that Elinor and Marianne overcame their nature of having sense and sensibility. Although the title suggested a story of opposites, Sense and Sensibility was about moderation, and how it was applied to two individuals to create sincere joy.

The Dashwood sisters were alike in many ways: they were both pretty, young and looking for a suitor. Their differences, however, far exceed their similarities. Marianne, the younger sister at seventeen, was described as “sensible and clever; but eager in every thing; her sorrows, her joys, could have no moderation. She was generous, amiable, interesting; she was everything but prudent” [sic] (p. 4). Elinor saw this with concern, for she

“possessed a strength of understanding, and coolness of judgment, which qualified her, though only nineteen, to be the counsellor of her mother, and enabled her frequently to counteract, to the advantage of them all, that eagerness of mind in Mrs Dashwood which must generally have led to imprudence. She had an excellent heart; – her disposition was affectionate, and her feelings were strong; but she knew how to govern them” [sic] (p. 3).

The sisters also had different ideas of what to look for in a husband. Elinor was never specific on what she looked for in a suitor; h…

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…ndship, voluntarily to give her hand to another!” [sic] (p. 259).

Marianne had overcome the passion she had possessed to find happiness, for she “found her own happiness . . . . [and] could never love by halves; and her whole heart became, in time, as much devoted to her husband, as it had once been to Willoughby” (p. 260).

The novel Sense and Sensibility is a wonderful tale of two young sisters who were able to overcome their own personal trials to reach happiness. Elinor was able to show her passion for Edward, releasing a great burden of sadness off her shoulders, while Marianne overcame her passion of Willoughby to love another, her husband. Despite the suggestion of the title, the novel was focused on moderation, and the role it plays in creating happiness.

Works Cited:

Austen, Jane. Sense and Sensibility. New York: Barnes and Noble Inc., 1996.

Comparing Dover Beach and Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

A Comparison of the Victorian and Modernist Perceptions as Exemplified by Dover Beach and The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

Matthew Arnold and T.S. Eliot, in their respective poems, share a sense of alienation, not only from other people but from nature and God as well. Arnold is writing in an age when the place of man in the universe is coming into question, for the first time since the advent of Christianity. He can no longer take the same solace in nature and the love of God that his Romantic predecessors did. While Arnold comments on isolation, however, he still addresses himself to a lover in Dover Beach, whereas Prufrock is presented as a man who has completely retreated within himself. Eliot’s isolation is total.

In the industrialized age of Arnold, people no longer were able to look upon nature for inspiration; the unpopulated country of Wordsworth’s time was no longer accessible to a centralized people. The increased pace of life and urban crowding obviated the Romantic’s luxury of reflection in natural solitude. While the poet observes nature in Dover Beach, the experience is metaphorically useful, but not an end unto itself, nor does it bring any comfort. Rather, Arnold uses the futility that he sees in the ocean’s tides to illustrate the fruitlessness of human endeavor. Although the sea appears calm [line 1], beneath the surface there is this almost cruel drama being played out, as the pebbles are dragged and flung by the waves and dragged back again, producing a “grating roar.” [lines 9-12] The image of human beings as pebbles on the sand recurs in the third stanza, when Arnold refers to the “Sea of Faith” which has withdrawn and left the rocks exposed as “naked shingles.” Eliot later also repudiates t…

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…he colloquial almost instantaneously. Arnold’s final paragraph serves a sort of summing-up of Dover Beach as a whole. At the conclusion of Prufrock, Eliot leaps into an apparently tangential thought about mermaids. It’s not his job to explain what Prufrock is talking about. Eliot has turned the enigma of modern living into a poem, rather than using his work to provide an answer to the questions that humanity must deal with.

Arnold seems to be mourning for a time past when people could look to faith for answers to questions of import. Eliot acknowledges that those days will never return and instead encourages the reader to apply a personal meaning to The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.

Works Cited:

T.S. Eliot, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. 6th ed. Vol. 2. ed. M. H. Abrams New York, London: Norton, 1993.

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