Musings on Austen

I’d never actually read Sense and Sensibility until this weekend, but I’m glad I did. Its social satire isn’t as sharply hilarious as Pride and Prejudice’s or Emma’s, perhaps because the rich people involved aren’t simply behaving badly, they’re doing bad things that have material consequences, whether it’s forcing people out of their homes or into penury or denying them incomes that would help them marry and live more comfortably.It’s also an interesting book in that the male main character, Edward Ferrars, is weaker than the typical Austen hero. Mr. Darcy’s flaws, for example, arise from a surplus of character, fine feeling and attachment to honor. Mr. Knightley’s flaws are only flaws from Emma’s perspective — they’re obvious to the reader as evidence of character — and his only real trouble is not declaring himself to Emma sooner and allowing confusion to take root. Edward, on the other hand, exhibits less strength of character. He makes a rather silly engagement and fails to find a way out of it. And rather than pursuing his choice of career, he spends a lot of time hanging about and disappointing his mother. Austen does a great job of establishing why Elinor’s a worthy object of his love, but doesn’t do nearly so much to prove why Edward’s worthy of her affection: this is one area where Ang Lee’s movie is really an improvement, fleshing out Edward’s character considerably. Much like the regret I think many readers feel over Jo March not marrying Laurie, I sort of feel as if it might have been fair for Elinor to end up with Colonel Brandon.And as a side note, is it me, or is Bones really just an extended Sense and Sensibility remake with Angela as Marianne, Brennan as Elinor, and many, many more corpses?