What are the standards of masculine conduct and values that Austen seems to uphold, as portrayed through her male characters in Sense and Sensibility?

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Tamara K. H. eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Edward Ferrars is described as a shy man, but once a person gets to know him, he is easily seen as being very open, sensitive, and caring. He is intelligent and well educated. His one flaw is a result of his being emotionally at war with his mother. His mother wants him to have a "distinguished" political career, but he is too shy. Edward would prefer a quiet, private, domestic life (Ch. 3). Due to being unable to fulfill his mother's wishes, Edward becomes idle, and his idleness leads him to make a poor choice in a wife, which he must keep secret from his mother because his mother also wishes him to marry a rich woman, and Lucy is not (Ch. 49). Through Edward, Austen teaches us that Edward has the heart and mind that is most desirable and valued in a man, but that his idleness leads to folly which hurts himself and others.

Colonel Brandon is described as an unattractive man, who is very "sensible" and "gentlemanlike" (Ch. 7). When Marianne first met him, he earned her respect by actually paying attention to the music she was singing and playing, as opposed to pretending to pay attention like the others of the party. Elinor also finds him to be a good friend (Ch. 11). He is further described as being very thoughtful of others' feelings (Ch. 12). He is also extremely noble and when he learns how Willoughby has hurt Marianne, he goes straight to Elinor to reveal Willoughby's true character and explain that Willoughby had seduced his ward and abandoned her with child (Ch. 31). Colonel Brandon does everything he can for Marianne, even saving her life. Austen shows us through Colonel Brandon that his values and behavior is what a man's ought to be.

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Sense and Sensibility

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