Sense and Sensibility: Neo-classicism vs Romanticism

Essay by savmanHigh School, 11th gradeA-, November 2004

download word file, 9 pages 5.0

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austin was a moralistic novel depicting the two main forms of attitudes at that time; the neo -classics and the romantics. The period in which it was written, nineteenth century England, was laden with social etiquette and customs imposed on people of that time; and thus the characters of Jane Austin's novels. The novels' two main protagonists; Elinor and Marianne Dashwood, exemplify the Neo classical era and the romantic era, respectfully. Jane Austin instils Neo-classic and romantic ideals in Elinor and Marianne as to present a view of each attitude and to further enhance the discrepancies of social nineteenths century England.

Neo- Classicism derived from the 17-18th centuries' intellectual pursuit into disciplines such as philosophy, history, classicism and science. The 'Enlightenment' era believed knowledge provided a clear future in a developing age and thus a rationalist philosophy was formed. This philosophy shunned the value of human emotions and social freedom.

Instead it placed an exalted value on order, convention, wit rationality and logic. The Neo- Classics was convinced logic and reason were superior to emotional and imagination, and believed it was proper to abstain or withhold from expressing emotive feelings and impulsive behaviour. It was this belief that formed the better part of nineteenth century England and its superficial and trivial social life. This emphasis upon the mind and reason became the topic of authors from that era however by the latter half of the 18th century a few writers had become dissatisfied and alluded to writing about feeling and sentiment. This was known as the transition period, which made way for the conversation of most writers to Romanticism. Some authors, namely Jane Austin, created Neo-Classic characters to emphasize the philosophy and compare it to Romanticism.

In Sense and sensibility, Austin uses Elinor to represent...