We’re reading Sense and Sensibility in my Austen class right now. I’ve really enjoyed re-reading it again, because the last time I did I was pretty young and I feel like I am appreciating it a lot more this time around.
It got me thinking about “sense” and “sensibility” in our own society today—and how our values might have changed since the 18th Century.
I’m going to put this on the table upfront. I love Elinor. I relate to Elinor. I feel like Elinor is the fictional version of myself and we both deal with our issues in life very much the same way. Which is, keeping feelings to ourselves. Good or bad. If I am extremely happy, I will call my family and tell them how happy I am, but it’ll probably be a five or ten minute phone call. And then I will ask them about their day because I’m done talking about it.
Now, my sister is very much like Marianne. When she’s in love or upset, you can’t get her to shut up about it. She just wants to talk and talk and talk about it until my ears feel like they are going to bleed.
I’ve been thinking about how our society seems so much more bent on the “sensibility” view than perhaps people were in Austen’s time. Every time something wonderful or terrible happens, we update our facebook statuses or text someone. There’s this constant need to talk to someone about our feelings.
In fact, it seems like people don’t believe you’re actually dealing with a situation unless you talk to someone about it.
But that’s not really true. Different people deal with issues differently. And just because someone isn’t talking about their problems doesn’t mean they aren’t dealing with them.
In the 18th Century, sensibility was seen as somewhat of a negative thing. Although I think Austen is trying to say there is room for both “sense” and “sensibility” in her novel, I think we’ve lost some of the “sense” we might have had in the past. I think the acceptance of both is important—and that just because someone is dealing with their lives in a different way doesn’t necessarily mean they are wrong in doing so.
What do you think? Which are you? “Sense” or “sensibility” or a combination of both?