A Structuralist Reading Of Austen's Sense And Sensibility

612 words - 2 pages

A Structuralist Reading of Austen's Sense and Sensibility  

The fundamental structural dynamic underlying the whole manifested universe, much less literature, is duality; therefore, Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility is easily analyzed from the structuralist perspective.

Each of us is a complex mixture of polar opposites, the most primary of which being the division between right brain and left brain, or, more commonly, "heart and mind." Austen's technique in this novel is that of eliminating altogether the corpus callosum, thus juxtaposing the two halves into a "binary opposition," a split between the heart that throbs and exults and the mind which ascertains and evaluates. Marianne is, of course, the heart of the novel, Elinor the mind. Moreover, the remaining characters, too, fall within one of these two categories. I have arranged the most important figures of the novel in this way:

          SENSE                          SENSIBILITY

          Elinor                         Marianne

          Edward                         Mrs. Dashwood

          Lucy                           Col. Brandon

          Willoughby                     Sir John

          John Dashwood                  Mrs. Jennings

          Mr. Palmer                     Miss Steele

          Mrs. Ferrars                   Mrs. Palmer

          Fanny Dashwood


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