The Unattractiveness of Excessive Sensibility

More on the introduction to Sense and Sensibility: James-Cavan cites one Alistair Duckworth as claiming that “while the novel endorses Elinor’s ‘sense,’ it nevertheless admits the necessity of emotion and makes Marianne much more attractive than her sister” (17).

Hmph. That’s your opinion, Mr Duckworth. On my last reading of S&S, I was struck by nothing so much as how unattractive Marianne appears. She’s a spoiled, self-absorbed drama queen who can’t even be bothered to be polite to people because it would offend against her sense of “honesty”. Marianne would have been right at home in today’s “Be True To Yourself!! Follow Your Heart!!” society (or at least the Disney-inspired romantic comedies that incessantly preach this message) – as, I suspect, is Mr Duckworth, which is why he finds her more attractive than Elinor who has a sense of tact to go with her emotions. Which, incidentally, are described as being just as deep as Marianne’s, she just doesn’t let them all hang out for the world.

I, for one, find that far more attractive than Marianne’s Storm-of-Emotion approach to life (“FFFFeelings!!” – press back of wrist against forehead, swoon. Pu-leeeze!). Fortunately for readers like me Marianne comes around to Elinor’s way of thinking in the end; she resolves to take her sister’s approach to life as her guideline. Which makes me think that Austen considered it the more attractive style, too. I think I’ll stick with her, thank you; Mr Duckworth can keep his opinion of what’s attractive.

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