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|Very interesting Mandy
Written by Jan
(10/13/2006 12:02 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Focus : Romanticism. The private & the public ; Letters., penned by Mandy N
My focus for the whole GR has been Elinor's outward suppression of her feelings. What I'd like to know is your view (and anyone else's) on Elinor's sensibility... I'll try and be succinct but my thoughts are a bit jumbled.
Both sisters have now had all their hopes ruined and they are heartbroken. JA clearly distinguishes the outward responses of each, which is true to each character that she has carefully built up for us. What I'm not sure about is whether Elinor would have been regarded in JA's era as having less sensibility than Marianne just because she doesn't show it.
I've only read a little around the Rousseau/ romanticism philosophies on sensibility and can't really find a clear answer. It seems to me that Elinor feels every bit as much as Marianne and they only differ in their behaviour. I'm not sure that Elinor hides her feelings solely because of social rules, I think she does it out of concern for how this would adversely affect others, which in itself shows immense 'feeling'(and more than Marianne's). If JA drew this more simplistically, we'd have Elinor suppressing herself purely because it was expected of her and yet time again we see her putting her own feelings second for the purpose of ensuring the comfort of others (eg being civil to the Middletons and Mrs Jennings). This doesn't portray the sisters as polarised versions of sense and sensibility or even at equal ends of a see-saw (as in the opening credits of S&S1). I don't think JA is saying that Elinor is sitting in the balanced centre either. I think she is saying that the two qualities aren't mutually exclusive and you can have a large dose of both (was that a general view or rather original on JA's part?).
I am currently of the opinion that Elinor has as much sense as sensibility and that her sensibility is actually greater than Marianne's because she is so sensitive to others (even when they irritate or exasperate her). I'm wondering if JA is saying here that Elinor actually is all sensibility but Marianne has all the appearance of it?
If you can understand these rambling thoughts, I'd be grateful for your ideas!
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