Sense and Sensibility: The Risk of Being Female

  • LeRoy W. Smith


In the traditional view Sense and Sensibility juxtaposes ethical or moral opposites and satirises the novel of sensibility by showing that feeling is a dangerous guide to conduct.1 As a chapter in Jane Austen’s treatment of the ‘drama of woman’, the novel concentrates on the sexual and emotional vulnerability of women in a patriarchal society.


Social Form Patriarchal Society Emotional Vulnerability Economic Satisfaction Kindred Spirit 
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Notes and References

  1. 3.
    See, for example, L. Brown, ‘Marrying and Mothering’, pp. 33–6; Bush, Jane Austen p. 83; Duckworth, ‘ “Spillikins, paper, ships, riddles, conundrums, and cards”: games in Jane Austen’s life and fiction’, in Halperin, Jane Austen.: Bicentenary Essays p. 285; L. P. Hartley, ‘Jane Austen and the Abyss’, Essays by Divers Hands 35 (1969) 97–100; Lerner, Truthtellers pp. 160–6Google Scholar
  2. S. Morgan, In the Meantime: Character and Perception in Jane Austen’s Fiction (University of Chicago Press, 1980) pp. 111–12; Nardin, Decorums p. 24; and Rees, Jane Austen, Woman and Writer p. 131.Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    Henriettta Ten Harmsel, Jane Austen: A Study in Fictional Conventions (The Hague: Mouton, 1964) p. 47; see Hartley, op. cit., p. 97; Nardin, Decorums pp. 30–5; and Rees, op. cit., p. 131.Google Scholar
  4. 10.
    Chrisopher Gillie, ‘Sense and Sensibility: an Assessment’, Essays in Criticism 9 (1959) 5.Google Scholar
  5. 18.
    A. McKillop, ‘The Context of Sense and Sensibility’, Rice Institute Pamphlets, 44 (1957) 77.Google Scholar
  6. 22.
    H. Hartmann, Ego Psychology and the Problem of Adaptation (New York: International Universities Press, 1958) p. 87. Auerbach, in ‘Jane Austen and Romantic Imprisonment’, in Monaghan, Jane Austen in a Social Context pp. 20, 24, describes the ‘sense’ that Elinor endorses as ‘less general wisdom than . [an] acute perception of “the fangs of the tyger” ’, a ‘seismographic awareness of … the reality of others’ power’.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© LeRoy W. Smith 1983

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  • LeRoy W. Smith

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