Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

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What do the manmade structures in Sense and Sensibility tell us about the societies in which the characters live?

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D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I would interpret the question to mean social structures. The manmade social structure that tells us the most about the society in this novel is patriarchy.

Patriarchy is a system in which men are in charge of society, and a person's last name is passed down from one's father. In this system, property is most often handed down from father to son or the closest male heir. Women are grafted into this system through marriage, and women who are unmarried are marginalized.

The novel shows how the Dashwood mother and sisters are edged out of an inheritance by male heirs and forced to leave their home at Norland to live in a much smaller house called Barton Cottage. The injustice of this kind of privileging of men over women is implied through the fate of the daughters, rather than stated outright.

Because marriage is what...

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Kale Emmerich eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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