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Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility Essay

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Updated: Apr 19th, 2021


Literary work is a reflection of what is happening in the society. Authors normally voice their opinion about issues affecting the society through various themes. These themes are closely linked together through analysis of a character’s actions.

In the contemporary society, introduction of literature research has extensively increased the volume of literature in every topic of interest researchers may be interested in especially in use of expression tools such as metaphors to present a symbolic view that a character displays in a play or a book.

As a matter of fact, irrespective of the level of knowledge and understanding of research facets, literature versions are inclusive of literature tools such as metaphors. Literature comparison is about enjoying the phrases, feeling the narrator’s words in action, imagining, and placing oneself in the writer’s shoes.

Writings with consistent assumptions and symbolic insinuation add comprehensiveness to sentence structures or phrases with hidden meaning. Thus, this reflective treatise analyses the theme of triangulated desires in the books “Pride and Prejudice” and “Sense and Sensibility”.

The pieces dwell much on marriage and its holistic perception which is influenced by race, gender, family relationships and social status. The books show how an individual’s sense of identity is vulnerable to manipulation by others of higher social class.

Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility

Jane Austen (1775-1817) relied heavily in a balance of irony, realism, and parody in her genre to present a distinct literary style in depicting different societal setups. Through use of irony, Austen was successful in addressing hypocrisy that was dominant in the 18th century in the theme of triangulated desires.

This themes form the foundations upon which the societies at that time were built. It resonates across generations since its influence is inherent. Triangulated desires as a theme touch on identity crisis, tradition, manipulation, and marriage. As observed, Austen’s society is deeply rooted in their culture and is inflexible to accommodate modernity. They view such ideas as alien with no bearing in their lives.

In the texts “Pride and Prejudice” and “Sense and Sensibility”, Austen artistically underscores the traditional position on marriage as a trajectory and paradoxically dependent on desire with homo-social relations forming the underlying huddles towards fulfilling the traditionally internalized protagonist beliefs in marriage as a normative social positioning institution.

More about Pride and Prejudice

Austen then endeavors to expose these excesses of female and male ‘homosocial’ and formative desire bonds which climax in either marriage dissolution or final resolution. In addressing this theme, Austen uses ‘homosocial’ desires privilege to authenticate female possibilities in marriage institution. She proceeds to recuperate to different degrees of patriarchal symbolism on gender-class system.

The Theme of Triangulated Desires

“Pride and Prejudice”

In the text “Pride and Prejudice”, Austen presents a relationship between Darcy and Bingley as that filled with unending triangulated desires. The ‘steady friendship’ between Darcy and Bingley is a reflection of a powerful visible ‘homosocial’ bond that immediately sparkled at Meryton ball during their first meeting (Austen 1995, p.10).

Despite Bingley’s superior social class, Darcy is worn out in strong jealously when the latter enjoys a dance with “the only handsome girl in the room” (Austen 1995, pp. 6-7). Reflectively, this indifference displayed by Darcy is more than coincidental fancy but an unending desire to hold Bingley in her arms. Darcy proceeds to dance with Bingley’s favorite friend Jane.

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The erotic triangle between Darcy and Bingley is based on unending ‘homosocial’ desires with Jane being the mediating figure in romance. In this aspect, it is apparent that Darcy would be happier to dance with Bingley instead of dancing besides him holding a heterosexual figure. Since this opinion doesn’t not process, it is apparent that the desires of Darcy are not met.

To balance an undying desire and ‘homosocial’ ego, Darcy proceeds to dance with Bingley’s sisters besides openly spurring Elizabeth’s dance offer claiming that “I am in an honor at present to give consequence to young ladies who are slighted by other men (Austen 1995, pp. 6-7).

This is a reaction sentiment Darcy is displaying after feeling slighted by his superior ‘heterosocial’ friend’s currency. In doing so, a reader can identify the lose end competitive logic for triangulated desires between two grown men who belong to different social classes. Macpherson (2003) asserts,

In any erotic rivalry, the bond that links the two rivals is as intense and potent as the bond that links either of the rivals to the beloved… the bonds of “rivalry” and “love,” differently as they are experienced, are equally powerful and in many cases equivalent… not by the qualities of the beloved, but by the beloved’s already being the choice of the person who has been chosen as a rival (21).

Besides the hidden desires at dance party, Darcy becomes an obstacle in the intended union between Bingley and Jane. Darcy’s desire for Bingley has totally blinded him and he confesses that “I have no wish of denying that I did everything in my power to separate my friend from your sister, or that I rejoice in my success” (Austen 1995, p. 130).

When confessing that Jane “want of connection could not be so great an evil to my friend as to me,” Darcy with ease “preserve his friend from… a most unhappy connection,” stating “other causes of repugnance” as the “total want of propriety so frequently, so almost uniformly betrayed” by the family of Jane (Austen 1995, pp. 134–35).

The theme of triangulated desires is presented in the possessive jealousy of a ‘homosocial’ Darcy whose desire for Bingley cannot allow him to let go of the fantasy he has for him.

Despite this desire, Darcy composes a passionate letter to Bingley to make a confession of a failed union between him and Elizabeth. In an interesting turn of events, the triangulated desires of Darcy lands on Lydia who is saved from social abjection of being unfit for marriage. Macpherson asserts,

Darcy saves Lydia not because he cares about Lydia or about the Bennets—not even because he cares about Elizabeth. Elizabeth acknowledges that Darcy had “done this for a girl whom he could neither regard nor esteem”… but it turns out that Darcy saves Lydia because he feels himself, without having “schemed to do wrong,” to be accountable for Wickham (16).

Darcy is fully responsible for the reprehensible actions displayed by Wickam. In fact, he admits this as inspired by ‘homosocial’ desire competition. As a result, Darcy “becomes the better man in ‘homosocial’ competition with Wickham, and successfully routes his triangulated ‘homosocial’ desire through the “heterosexual detour” of marriage in the novel’s curiously anticlimactic denouement” (Macpherson, 2003, p.15).

After a long struggle, Darcy detours his ‘homosocial’ investments in Bingley and Wickham and is presented as a better person after reviving Elizabeth’s and Jane’s marriage plots. As a result, the new status position Darcy as a superior male among the three males with triangulated desires for ‘homosocial’ clandestine.

Elizabeth is described as an essentially masculine person because of her unladylike affection for Jane. Austen asserts “very nonsensical to come at all! Why must she be scampering about the country, because her sister had a cold” (Austen 1995, pp. 21-23). Elizabeth’s homoerotic excesses towards her sister Jane paint her as part of the hidden ‘heterosocial’ society.

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Reflectively, integrating this in the theme of triangulated desires introduces physical and emotional insistent which is climaxed in momentous fulfillment achievement. Elizabeth is described severally as ‘feeling really anxious’ and face glowing in presence of the sister more than it should be for sisterly love.

Her motivation towards showing concerns to Jane may be classified as a heterosexual courtship with Jane being the sole object of ultimate destination. These desires towards a female of same family indicate an implicit ‘homosocial’ inclination in the romantic chivalry described as unfeminine. Interestingly, these manly features make the ‘homosocial’ Darcy attracted to Elizabeth (Austen 1995, p. 24).

“Sense and Sensibility”

Literature is a passionate subject that requires originality when reading through it. Originality is an essential thing required to improve the manner in which we view the narration and understand it.

As a matter of fact, from the external focus, a reader can connect the previous arguments in the text “Pride and Prejudice” and “Sense and Sensibility” since two have same theme of triangulated desires. Austen is more philosophical in her writing of the book “Sense and Sensibility” than in the book “Pride and Prejudice”.

Though the plot is built in a conservative society, unending desires separate Marianne and Willoughby, who loses her to Colonel Brandon. The theme of hidden and recurring desires control the lives of main character in this wobbly plot. This aspect is narrow and creates an essence of assuming a static plot setting.

This is a wise way to maintain the literature touch, making it simpler to understand. In this narration, that is, “Sense and Sensibility” the author has created a quantifiable and intrinsic reader understanding of what metaphoric use on a character was about and the resultant effect created.

Marianne is presented as an intelligent, frank, loving, and musically talented (Austen, 1996). Willoughby is a man of many faults who is appreciative of Marianne and deeply loves her. However, the desire for class and economic power pushes Marianne to exchange marriage vows with crude Colonel.

Desires to own a home and forms the main driving force for different character traits exposed by Austen. Across the text, home is presented as the ideal landmark, a beloved place, and a treasure defining happiness. Love without a home is but a fantasy.

Though things are falling apart, owing a home to the Dashwood sisters is an accomplishment of triangulated desires. Many characters such as the Steeles, Edward and Willoughby are haunted by the unfulfilled desire to own a roof over their heads. Despite having a shelter, they don’t have land and are considered loosely hanging in the conventional society (Austen, 1996, p. 34).

Reflectively, achievement of desired object symbolized good sense. On the other hand, disillusionment is as a result of underscoring on desires and depending on emotions. In her endeavor to achieve her desires, Elinor is patient enough to subject her observation to deep scrutiny before passing judgment.

Besides, Colonel Brandon loves Marianne and knows the virtue of rational proclamations in the quest to fulfill the desires of marrying her.

Unlike Willoughby, Colonel Brandon is careful when expressing his feelings towards Marianne. In this instance, good judgment and final marriage between the two is as a result of patience in the quest for desires.

Though Mrs. Dashwood thinks highly of Willoughby, she is worried by his lack of good judgment and caution. This worry is also directed towards Colonel Brandon’s feelings for the fragile Marianne. Austen (1996) wrote,

On every formal visit a child ought to be of the party, by way of provision for discourse. In the present case it took up ten minutes to determine whether the boy were most like his father or mother, and in what particular he resembled either, for of course everybody differed, and everybody was astonished at the opinion of the others (p 38).

In my view, without the theme of desire, these writings would be similar to watching a movie with no camera effects, no sound effects, and with unknown characters as the only aim is passing a message.

In Austen’s use of the desires as a theme, she succeeds in characterizing the powerful in the society and the weaker ones in their desire to find love, maintain marriages, and climb economic ladder. The patriarchal society is painted as unfair to the female members of the society.

In quest to fulfill desires, the male members of these societies share same attitude towards females. Interestingly, the wall limiting desires in both texts is an unending phenomenon which cannot be destroyed. Instead of focusing on either antagonistic or protagonist stand, the narrator present a brief on both sides.

She is comprehensive on presenting a quantifiable expository backed by a strong characterization in line with the main theme in the book.

Consistent use of this theme more than once alongside other literary devises has made the two main characters, that is, Marianne and Darcy stand out as a protagonist verses an antagonist in a battle to satisfy ego and undying desires.

However, at the end of the struggle, the spontaneous desire hits the wall for both characters. Marianne ends up married to Colonel Brandon to the dismay of many readers in the text “Sense and Sensibility”. The same fate faces Darcy who loses Bingley to Jane despite series of attempts to attract Bingley’s attention.

Triangulated desires stops reasoning and slower people from examining the limits of pragmatic possibilities necessary for psychological reconciliation. Fortunately, the self regulating society seems to offer a facilitated explanation for mutual support.

Austen has imposed the above thought as an expression to resonate on the need for better life and communicate past negative experiences. Austen suggests that the process of appreciating the social power as a power of the people enables the society to function coherently within minimal tension, despite having different desires.

Austen pushes for personal conviction as the basis of the ideal fundamental social norms that minimizes conflict in the process of creating a systematic orientation for fulfilling desires.

In presenting the theme of triangulated desires, the author characterizes personal identity as a component of realism. Recognizing aspects of loyalty, moral crisis, honor, and revenge, Austen gives her story a lifeline of a typical society filled by personal interests.

She creates a human action drama that combines stories of self-discovery and love. Austen convincingly mingles the ‘futuristic’ and the ‘realistic’ imaginations of the then naïve society.

The theme of triangulated desire is relevant in the contemporary society where difference between unity and hatred is defined by a thin line of personal interests. In most cases, the losers remain to wallow in regret as winners blow trumpet. The driving force towards triangulating desires remains to be family, love and the need to belong.

Despite these desires, the society as a bond unites different personalities and these desires often remain hidden within a person. As a matter of fact, love remains to be the sole dictator of human desires. The degree of jealousy often determines an individual’s ability to arrest unbecoming desires.

In conclusion, the two texts, “Sense and Sensibility” and “Pride and Prejudice” share connections in the plot and theme of triangulated desires. The texts are able to vividly and convincingly present the unending desires.

However, they end up in different circumstantial incidences. Acknowledged by many authors as homosocial culturally embedded female writer, Austen presents an experimental imagination of deep heterosexual relationships. Across the two novels, women are displayed as victims of the triangulated desires.


Austen, J. (1995). Pride and Prejudice. New York: Dover.

Austen, J. (1996). Sense and Sensibility, New York: Barnes & Noble Books.

Macpherson, S. (2003). Rent to Own; Or, What’s entailed in Pride and Prejudice. Representations Journal, 82, 1–23.

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