Free Gender in Sense and Sensibility Dissertation Example
Gender in Sense and Sensibility.
In gender in sense and sensibility, the main characters are two women, Elinor and Marianne. One of the women represents the spirit, and the other serves to provide an understanding of mind, or rather, sensibility. In the book, the future of the female characters solely depends on the kind of men they marry. In the long run, not all of them can marry an able man, which leaves them on a dilemma to start searching for different ways of earning wealth for themselves. Other women have a controlling power on their husbands. Hence they can obtain what they want from the men. Although men are often the dominant race in society, some women stand out and become a better version of the dominant men. However, women are not recognized regardless of their efforts. Women are considered the weaker gender in societies. Although some women try to become significant members of their organizations, they are often forced to conform to ideologies formulated by male-dominated perceptions regarding the definition of the perfect woman.
First and foremost, inheritance is usually a critical element, is beneficial to one’s life, and is everyone in the society is entitled to their heritage. However, on taking a quick look at the novel, the women are not accorded the rights to any inheritance and the laws that determine who inherits specific properties leave women in a dilemma (Austen 60). Their lack of money and resources also puts them in undesirable situations. There are also minimal options that can make it possible for them to ease their marriages. In the case of marriage, men tend to consider women with higher dowry requirements for believing that they were well suited for them. As a result, money is the least of elements dictating Elinor and Marianne’s eligibility in the society through marriage.
Similarly, Marianne and her mother are romantic characters in society. As a result, it is likely for them to experience more dramatic scenes that they expect. In the community, it is illegal for women to even think of involving themselves in a romantic relationship. For instance, Austen (63) states that although Marianne desired a relationship with Willoughby, it was he who was expected to determine whether or not they initiated it. It was men’s responsibility to establish how relationships were developed in the sense of who and when they marry. Women, on the other hand, had no definite choice or power to make decisions regarding marriage. “Women were to sit and wait for a marriage proposal from the men” (Winters 12). Nevertheless, the problems that Marianne and her mother were hoping against were changed by reality. With such occurrences, it is often argued that accidents and twists by fact can change the perspective from which everyone looks at a situation, what they expect, and what happens.
Similarly, marriage to the women was not a choice but a requirement. Women in the society had to look for suitors, an issue that was quite uncertain especially since men married whomever they wanted. Such an arrangement in the featured society made it impossible for women to find their preferred suitors. Johnson (18) states that the perceptions normalized in the community are aimed at intimidating women. Women who had money and resources also had to find suitors and marry, not because they wanted such benefits, but because they wanted to secure their future through their husbands. Often the property owned by women could easily be lost to men. As a result, it was essential for wealthy women to choose suitors who would be an element of protection from such occurrences. In other words, marriage was a necessity for women as they had to use the men they married to protect their property.
Similarly, the men preferred women who already owned property and money for they did not have to work too hard to raise their families in marriage. The society is male-dominated, and regardless of how much capital a woman had in possession, they were bound to lose it under the male dominance (Winters 106). Eventually, property ownership was transferred to the husband upon marriage. In other cases, the property had to be used to take care of the family. With such, it is evident that women in society fell under the rule of men. The tendency is apparent even in the modern society though not in the same extent as in the organizations. “It is not everyone,’ said Elinor, ‘who has your passion for dead leaves.” (Winters 107). Her statement implied that it is not everyone who is subjected to oppressive male dominance in the society. Further, Austen states that “the more I see of the world, the more I am convinced I shall never see a man whom I can love. I require so much!” (Austen 56). The statement clearly shows just how powerless women have been rendered. They are no standards tied to women and any attempts to demand respect or command value are received with contempt to extents of not finding a man to marry.
Further, discretion was an essential virtue that individuals in the featured society were expected to have. It is often termed as unhealthy for everyone to know one’s thoughts and feelings towards something. Hence, keeping something to one’s self is critical to maintaining the name that people build for themselves in the society (Copeland 52). In the novel, Marianne showed a lack of discretion, which resulted in gossips around the community. The scandals forced Willoughby to reject her in public, something that is hurtful especially because he was supposed to marry her (Johnson, 64). Willoughby had a lot of women who he could marry and among them was Marianne. However, he decides to choose another woman regardless of what he had gone through with Marianne. In the novel, it is stated that “know your happiness. You want nothing but patience- or give it a fascinating name, call it to hope” (Winters 125). The statement depicts how men rule the society. They choose what to do and when to do it despite all the other variables in the community. Also, they do not take into consideration what the other people feel about their actions.
Pretense and the adoption of false characteristics are common among people in the featured society. However, the practice is more dominant in women who seek to portray a personality that is desirable by men. Fraiman (814) described women as ‘the true chameleons of nature’ since they keep switching personalities. Gender issues are often the determining factors of what one will become or what one is. For a woman to be perfect in a male-dominated community, they do anything to keep their reputation in the community (Fairman, 815). In some situations, it may not matter whether the chosen action is good or bad, even in the eyes of onlookers. Lucy, a very innocent person in the story, participates in an illegal action. In such a context, gender issues can affect whichever gender that one is, either male or female, they are all prone. Copeland’s statement that “Irrespective of your gender they issues that come with them are a bridge to everyone” (57) shows that people have to struggle to meet the standards set by the society. Societal stereotypes, therefore, force women to match men’s expectations. Men, on the other hand, have to portray important characteristics to match the dominance accorded to them in the featured society.
Also, judgment happens more often than many people can acknowledge. The interaction between people of different calibers is the reason behind judgment issues. Judgment is good but becomes an undesirable occurrence at times. For instance, someone may judge another person on the wrong basis. Equally, it is important that one knows the kind of person with which they are dealing (Austen 45). Most women in the story rashly judge men that they are after their property if they have any and most men often judge women based on the property they have but not how loving and caring they are. Excellent and loving relationships are not considered important in the novel. Instead, most men have replaced love in relationships and marriage with the craving for the property while women seek protection from the featured society and the loss of wealth (Austen 47). In such a community, all the judgments are based on the wrong aspects since people are judged with something that they are not capable of doing. Women also judge themselves, and their decisions are inconsistent and untrue. For instance, Marianne’s associates are always kind, and this makes her praise them all the time not knowing what they do in her absence (Winters 115). Also, Mrs. Jennings’ judgment on Lucy is all wrong and unjust, “I never wish to offend, but I am so foolishly shy, that I often seem negligent when I am naturally awkwardness” (Winters 114). The statement shows how one may make the wrong judgment of their counterparts, which may be unfair to both parties. For instance, is one is mistakenly judged as a wrong person, they may be despised for something they are not.
Moreover, the society presented in the novel is portrayed as facing the issue of gender stereotypes. This means that there is no equality between men and women in society (Sedgwick 143). “She was stronger alone” (Winters 167). Females are viewed as weak beings in the community whose place belongs at home, and they do not deserve to own any property. Also, they are shown to depict emotions and are very bad at making decisions as portrayed by Marianne. Men, on the other hand, are viewed as the stronger, aggressive, and exceptionally good at decision making. Elinor falls in this category of masculinity.
Furthermore, jealousy is featured in the society with people having undesirable emotions for others. The aspect of jealousy is mainly based on Lucy Steele, and suspicion is the primary determinant of how she behaves towards Elinor (Winters 112). Willoughby is also suspicious of Colonel Brandon for marrying Marianne. Jealous goes both ways, and it does not matter the gender but the inner life of a person, what they prefer in life and what they want in their lives “I wish, as well as everybody else, to be happy; but, like everybody else, it must be in my way” (Winters 110). Jealous indicates a form of insecurity and women are portrayed as being more jealous than men. Such portrayal tends to show women as the weaker gender and men as having the power to control emotion.
The contrast between the male and the female characters in the story is way too distinct. The female characters are portrayed with love and passion which is contrary to the male counterparts whose definition and exhibition is not convincing at all (Sedgwick 132). Willoughby’s betrayal towards Marianne shows his odd reasoning about someone who loved him only because of the endowment that another girl could bring him. Edward, on the other hand, is unable to reason as a man and Elinor is better than him in reasoning (Sedgwick 133). He is unable to show his love to the one he loves, and he keeps his problems to himself because he is too afraid to share them with his lover. “Elinor agreed to it all for she did not think he deserved the compliment of rational opposition.” (Winters 302). The statement shows that women were so accustomed to being despised such that they thought of themselves as being inferior to men. The statement, “what strange creatures men are. What do they want from us? Perhaps they see us not as people but as playthings” summarizes everything (Winters 13). Men do not take women as they equal to them but as inferior beings who should not be allowed to control their lives.
In conclusion, women have lived in male-dominated societies for ages. Men do what they want, and the women have little to comment on the situations at hand. Issues facing and affecting women’s daily lives such as marriage are often left to men to decide. Men are often given the power to choose who and when to marry. In other cases, women are forced to get married to suitors whom they do not love for reasoned founded on the nature of their societies. For instance, the novel portrays women as having the urge to get married to protect their property. Besides, women are not entitled to inheritance although they are just as important to society as their male counterparts. In some situations, women are the sources of property in their marriages. However, the irony is witnessed when the daughters in a family are denied the rights to inheritance. Such trends are the perfect portrayal of how much women are despised in most societies across the globe. Although women’s place in their communities has improved over time mainly due to globalization, they have not been considered as equals to their male counterparts, which tends to reduce the quality of their lives.
Austen, Jane. Sense and sensibility. Broadview Press, 2001.
Copeland, Edward, and Juliet McMaster, eds. The Cambridge Companion to Jane Austen. Cambridge University Press, 2011.
Fraiman, Susan. “Jane Austen and Edward Said: gender, culture, and imperialism.” Critical Inquiry 21.4 (1995): 805-821.
Johnson, Claudia L. Jane Austen: women, politics, and the novel. University of Chicago Press, 1990.
Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky. “Jane Austen and the masturbating girl.” Tendencies. Routledge, 1994. 121-140.
Winters, Ben H., and Jane Austen. Sense and sensibility and sea monsters. Vol. 1. Quirk Books, 2009.
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