JA's use of the five senses
Posted by Caroline on July 24, 1998 at 13:22:18:
I've been thinking a lot about JA's style recently, and what makes it unique. One of the things that constantly comes to mind is her use of the five senses. She doesn't actually depend on them nearly as much as other authors, and the variation of the way she uses them seems to be unusual, too.
She uses sight a great deal. She's constantly telling us how someone appeared to someone else, albeit in a very concise way. An example- when Wickham and Darcy meet on the Meryton street, one turns white, the other red, but she doesn't say who does which! However, she uses sight to move a plot along or make a scene more vivid in many instances.
She uses sound much less often. Occasionally she mentions the sound of carriage wheels, or the tone of someone's voice, but it is never really critical to the story, it's just a perfect, minimal embellishment.
She seems to use touch not at all. I cannot, off hand , think of any passage where the touch of anything on a person's hand or face is even mentioned. Can You?
Taste is usually a subject of ridicule. It's always to do with eating- Mrs Jennings and the olives, Mr. Woodhouse and the cake, egg, pork and all that. Notice how they don't actually eat the strawberries? Same with the Musgroves- the cake and the boys' behaviour.
Smells are almost absent too. There's a bit about Fanny Price enjoying the scents of the garden, but that's it, as far as I can see. She doesn't give details of smells, good or bad, it seems.
Now I suppose you could say that most authors depend very heavily on "sight" in their novels. But the lack of most of the other senses is not so common. Dickens uses smell a lot-especially disgusting ones! So why didn't Jane Austen? Is it because she wasn't a 'sense' person? Or because nobody in the eighteenth century stooped to writing about bodily functions except in a very crude manner? Any thoughts?
- Sense and Sensuality gkb 01:25:27 7/27/98 (7)
- LOL! Lesley 23:08:57 7/27/98 (3)
- Where do I sign up? Marie-Bernadette 13:47:40 7/27/98 (1)
- 'Spect you're a charter member, dear! (::-) (nfm) gkb 20:18:06 8/01/98 (0)
- Jane Austen's Body Caroline 11:05:53 7/27/98 (0)
- Senses Lesley 00:03:29 7/27/98 (2)
- Some senses Linden 05:01:00 7/25/98 (2)
- The senses Courtney Lynne 13:48:23 7/24/98 (1)
- Reactions Caroline 11:27:33 7/27/98 (0)
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