sense and sensbility

1990s Masculinity

“The changes Lee and Thompson made to Austen’s original story meant the title Sense and Sensibility no longer alluded to just the characteristics of its heroines. It now applied to the heroes as well, with Rickman and Grant’s characters proving men could combine heightened emotional sensitivity (sensibility) with the traditionally masculine bedrock of clear-eyed rationality (sense)….They were reborn on screen…as irresistible nurturers, influencing not only how people reread the novel today but also how they reimagine the history of sense and sensibility in men.”

Devoney Looser, “Sense and Sensibility and Jane Austen’s Accidental Feminists” 

I found this quote really interesting because it somewhat supported a discussion we had in class about whether or not Edward and Colonel Brandon showed a balance of sense and sensibility. I think, while the movie definitely gave Brandon and Edward more romantic allure than the novel, both were already sympathetic characters. Sometimes, what makes a reader (or viewer) actually feel sympathy for two such closed characters is seeing that character brought to life on screen. Reading such seemingly “sense” driven characters on paper always makes them see a little dry because we cannot see their faces, hear how they say their words, look at how they act when they are not speaking but know that others are whispering about them. So much about a character comes from little things like movements, facial expressions, etc. that we cannot always see clearly in novels. I think that the film not only added qualities to the characters that would draw in a 1990s audience (we also talked about this in class and how sensibility might capture the attention of a modern audience), but explored the sensibility that was already present in the characters by bringing them to life.