illustration of Elinor and Marianne Dashwood's faces

Sense and Sensibility

by Jane Austen

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What are some examples of Austen's use of satire?

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Satire is a "literary mode based on criticism of people and society through ridicule. The satirist aims to reduce the practices attacked by laughing scornfully at them--and being witty enough to allow the reader to laugh, also.  The satirist's goal is to point out the hypocrisy of his target in the hope that either the target or the audience will return to a real following of the code."  In Sense and Sensibility, Austen riducules the marriage, the roles of women, and the sentimental romance that was popular during her time.  Marianne, Willoughby, and Lucy are characters who are used to mock sentimentality and the 'dating game'. All three swear by the fervency of their love and romantic ideals, but the relationships they passionately cling to end for less than idealistic reasons.  

The roles of women become part of the satire as Austen shows the futility of the female life during this time.  Women sat around and waited to be married, and then spent the rest of their lives gossiping and having children.  Marriage itself is shown to be ridiculous in the lives of the Palmers, John and Fanny Dashwood, and Willoughby.  All marry for money and status and Austen proves that there is little else of value in their marriages. 

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