Satirical Representation of Society in Sense and Sensibility

The intention of Jane Austen, in Sense and Sensibility is satirical. It seems to represent the physical and psychological suffering resulting from the accident in love, is the primary intention of the novelist Jane Austen. But to represent the social reality in a satirical way is the subtle purpose of Jane Austen in Sense and Sensibility.

Jane Austen

The single-minded intensity of Lucy Steele's search for a husband is a subject of severe satire.  She can compromise everything with wealth. She continued to love Edward so long as she saw Edward, heir to Mrs. Ferrar's property. The moment Mrs. Ferrar disinherited Edward, Lucy freely chose Edward's brother Robert. Shamefully Lucy moved even between brother to brother for the sake of wealth. Nothing is more mean and mediocre than Lucy's relentless and ceaseless hunger for money. This hunger for money led to the degradation of herself. This shameful craze for wealth and absolute compromising nature of Lucy are attacked by Jane Austen in the novel Sense and Sensibility. Lucy and Willoughby belonged to the same boat. Both can cruelly and brutally compromise everything for money. They can go to the extent of betraying love also, undermining dignity also, crushing self-respect also just for money.

Marianne was sincere in pursuit for romance. She was passionately bent on the free play of passion. But her sincere cast of mind was restrained by the society. Through revealing Marianne's plight and social domination over her, Jane Austen has satirized social mediocrity and restraint.

John Dashwood is brother to Elinor and Marianne. Only mothers were different. But the father was same. John was from one mother, whereas Dashwood sisters were from another mother. At the time of the death of Mr. Dashwood, John was promised to pay a certain fixed sum for the upbringing of his sisters. And John had promised to fulfill his father's final wish. But John declined to give the fixed sum to his sisters. Not only this, he remained so passive that his wife created a torturing and intolerant atmosphere in Norland house. So they moved to Barton cottage. John Dashwood was solely nose led by his wife. He was henpecked. He forgot his sense of duty and responsibility. He became egotistic enough to overtake his duty. This negligence of duty due to vanity is satirized by Jane Austen in Sense and Sensibility.

Anne Steele is stupid. She is satirized as vulgar fool. Sir John Middleton is characterized as that kind of man who can't exist without company and noise. He is described as social fool. Lady Middleton is interested only in her children and is unnecessarily fond of talking about her own child. She is satirized by Jane Austen as the insipid fool. Mrs. Palmer is silly. She can't exist without her silliness. Charlotte Palmer and her husband are satirically portrayed. Charlotte palmer is silly. Her husband is confined to his world of aloneness. In the world of Sense and Sensibility several characters are afflicted with ridiculous vices. They try to hide those vices. But the novelist Jane Austen gets those vices revealed through the dialogic mode of characterization.

In the same way Jane Austen launches a subtle satire on the tyranny of Mrs. Ferrar. She is unreasonable to disinherit her son just for a small fault. It is not justifiable of a mother not to listen to him and go on imposing one's own view on him brutally. It is ludicrous of her to train her son so much so that he sees nothing in a girl except wealth.

In Sense and Sensibility almost all characters in this novel are engaged and engrossed with common things like love, relation, sentiment, in search for life partner, tragic outcome of love, dance, entertainment and party-attendance. From the start to the finish almost all characters are busy in coloring their world of commonplace activities. They never think about the higher pursuits like quest for knowledge and expertise in profession and works of social welfare, talk about politics and literature. In this way, Jane Austen vehemently satirizes the triviality of eighteenth century society.