Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Sense and Sensibility Review

     It was part of my vaguely conceived intention, when I created this blog, to use it to review books and movies that I have read. This has become a bit more defined now, and I feel that I should use this as a medium to review  little known classics which people might want to read, but aren't sure since they've never heard of them and can't find anyone else who has either (and by this I mean stuff I hadn't heard of and wanted to know more about), and things that people normally love, but I have my own differing opinions of. All reviews, of course, will be done in an effort to give a Christian perspective on the content and appropriateness of the books in question. Reviews will be broken down into categories and will end with an overall conclusion. The categories will be: Overview, Spirituality, Sexual Content, Violence, Plot, Style, Theme, Character Development, and Overall Conclusion.

edit: This is for my friend Lauren. Who complained. The rating system is on a 10/10 scale. 1/10 is really really bad. 10/10 is really really good.

      Now, I would submit to you my first book review, and I feel that I am stepping into very dangerous territory with almost everyone that I know. I am going to review Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen, and I am forced to admit that I am not an Austen fan in the slightest. I shall still strive to be as unbiased as possible, and ask you to understand that I cannot be wholly unbiased and will not, therefore, be giving any book by Austen and 11/10 stars. Without Further ado I shall begin the review.

     Jane Austen's novel Sense and Sensibility revolves around the lives of the Dashwood sisters, particularly the two eldest: Eleanor and Marianne. Eleanor is cool headed and sensible, ruled by reason and not really requiring a passionate love to induce marriage. Marianne, on the other hand, is ruled by her passions and can do nothing with only half of her heart. The Dashwoods reside in the grand estate of Norland Park. Their lives are rudely interrupted, however, when Mr. Dashwood, their father, dies suddenly. The estate then passes into the possession of their half brother and the Miss Dashwoods find themselves moved from their central city life to the starkly different atmosphere of the country, but not before Eleanor meets and becomes attracted to the brother of her sister-in-law. In the country the sisters must acclimate themselves to a very different lifestyle, now forced to keep company with frivolous neighbors, the good, if not dreary, Col. Brandon, and the passionate Willoughby (with whom Marianne relates to and falls wholly in love with). The beliefs of both sisters are put to the test through the characters that they meet and the encounters that they have with them. Will Eleanor be able to be with the man of whom she is so fond? Is Willoughby really the man that Marianne makes him out to be?

Spirituality 8/10
     In Sense and Sensibility the subject of religion isn't discussed much. The characters are living in the Victorian era which is still steeped in the Christian tradition. In that sense there are still many Christian themes and traditions that carry through the novel. In another sense, however, (and still in a very Victorian sense) religion isn't a very important subject in everyday life. That being said, Christian virtues such as charity, kindness, and self-control are promoted as the superior means through which one can live life. In this sense, while not being a Christian novel, it promotes Christian ideas and virtues as part of a culture that still recognized the value of the Christian tradition.

Sexual Content 9/10
     There's really not much here, I don't even remember there being any described kissing. The only reason it's not a 10 is because of a scandalous affair between and adult and a minor, resulting in the minor giving birth to an illegitimate child. This, however, is painted a scandal, and the man involved is very clearly presented as a scoundrel.

Violence 10/10
      Nothing violent really happens. There is a brief description of a duel, but it wasn't graphic at all.

Plot 6/10
     This is where I'll probably start losing friends. The story in this book just wasn't really that great. It was predictable and a bit cliched. It was a bit more complex than most modern love stories, following the affairs of two young women, but was wholly predictable from beginning to end. [SPOILER ALERT] The only real twist in the story was the repentance of Willoughby and how he always regretted not marrying Marianne. [end SPOILER ALERT] Also, on a slightly related note, the plot of this book resembles the plot of at least one, if not more of Jane Austen's other novels. This is a bit troublesome to me as well but a bit irrelevant to this review. The plot really wasn't all that bad for what it was intended to be, though.The story was intended to make the reader feel good and to end on a happy note, with each character coming to the best of all possible ends.

Style 7/10
     The style of this novel was pretty. It was simply written, yet elegant at the same time. I did enjoy the ease with which the story read. The language wasn't flowery or overblown like it could have, but was straightforward. I must admit that I liked the wit and the way that several characters were described made me laugh. The scenery and nature of the English countryside was described beautifully, but overmuch. Austen's style captures very well the humor and elegance of her time and was very impressive overall.

Theme 7/10
     The message of Sense and Sensibility is, overall, a good one. It speaks of the power of a love that is not ruled by senseless passion. It also holds that love, once lost, can be rekindled. It's a positive message that I believe is not normally found in romantic novels. It teaches a certain temperance in love and teaches hope for those with broken hearts. My only problem is a practical one. That, since this is a romance novel, it gives an unrealistic picture of love, and that's always been a bit bothersome to me.

Character Development 4/10
     Look at me. Losing more friends. I felt that most of the characters in this novel were rather contrived. Eleanor was a kind of bland character who never really changed throughout the entire story. Many of the characters were rather silly, and I didn't like them at all. There were only a very few characters who had any sort of depth at all - namely Col. Brandon and Willoughby (and Marianne by the end). There was a fair cast of characters, but it was a bit difficult to distinguish between many of them. Even many of the main characters seemed shallow to me and rather underdeveloped. I couldn't quite bring myself to like very many people.

Overall Conclusion 6.5/10
     There were many points that I personally didn't like about his book, but, putting that aside it actually was pretty good. It was an easy read and well written. The charictarization and plot, however leave much to be desired. I think, on the whole, it is ten times better than many other romantic novels. It's not at all trashy and is very sweet. I think it would have been helped a lot by a stronger plot and better developed characters.It was a sweet book, it ended the way I expected, and did succeed in making me feel good. In all I felt that it was not a bad book, but not a life changing one either.


  1. Gasp! You think Elinor is a flat character! Shameful!

    Okay, actually, as much as I love the Emma Thompson movie of this, I've never cared for the book much...just 'cause it's SO long and tedious. It's actually my second least favorite of Jane Austen's novels (the least favorite being Persuasion).

    Anyway, I don't agree with quite everything you've said, but I'll still be your friend :)

  2. HAYDEN!!!!!!!!!!! (that was probably a bit too enthusiastic)Even though the book wasn't my favorite I'll admit that I love love love the movie :). I tried to be as fair as I could though, and I did like Col. Brandon and Marianne. I just kept waiting for them to get together the whole time. Thanks for still being my friend. I promise that I probably like all other acceptable things :p


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