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Written by Caroline
(9/16/2006 4:12 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Some thoughts on the title, penned by Barbara
Kathleen James-Caven, the editor of this edition and I presume the author of its introduction, writes that even before JA wrote her earliest draft, there was already a literary tradition of writing about the "dangers of excessive sensibility", and that there were a number of contemporary (to JA) novels with two heroines where sense 'wins' over sensibility, so I have to believe that JA was aiming for something more than that in this novel.
I agree entirely with you, Barbara. When you consider that her earliest works show, not only a mastery of the ins and outs of sensibility, but include a novella in which the heroine uses the sensibility cult as an excuse for her most selfish, violent and stupid behaviour (Love and Freindship), and her last work also deals with a fool who is a lampoon of Henry Hackenzie's Man of Feeling along with a heroine who seems so extreme as to be a caricature of the same author's Man of Sense (Sanditon)and in between are the great novels in which every one contains the the word "sensibility" applied to all kinds of characters, it is obvious that a simple division of characters into "sensible people" and "feeling people" will not do. Mr Knighly, a man of sense if ever there was one, can yet speak "softly in tones of great sensibility" (or words to that effect- I'm paraphrasing). Henry Tilney shows "real sensibility" at Fullarton, but Isabella Thorpe's "delicate sensibility" imagines that Captain Tilney is saying rude things about her. Jane Bennet does not often "display" sensibility, despite having strong feelings, Charlotte Lucas claims not to be romantic, and certainly doesn't seem to have strong feelings. I could go on for ever on this, but I suppose my point is that JA seems to have been playing with the idea of Commonsense v Feeling in everybody in all her novels.
What does "responsible sensibility" look like? It looks like Elinor Dashwood and C______ Br_____________. It looks like Jane Fairfax and George Knightly. It looks like Anne Elliot and Mrs Smith. It looks like to two elder Bennet daughters- most of the time. And "irresposible sensibility" looks like Mr and Mrs Bennet, Isabella Thorpe and Louisa Musgrove.
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