Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Jane Austen Challenge Begins!

Do you have your Sense and Sensibility novel ready to go? I'm going to read to chapter 11 today, due to the fact I didn't have time to start on Saturday. I'll be posting my thoughts shortly! Enjoy your dose of Jane for the day! Here is a summary of the first three chapters to help you keep characters and motives straight. Sharing a summary of what you are reading has always helped my students know what to expect and to identify characters. This summary is from

Chapter 1 Summary:
The Dashwood family is introduced; they live at Norland Park, an estate in Sussex, which has been in their family for many years. Henry Dashwood has a son by a previous marriage, who is well-off because of his long-deceased mother's fortune; Mr. Dashwood also has three daughters by his present wife, who are left with very little when he dies and the estate goes to his son. Before Mr. Dashwood dies, he asks his son to promise to help his step-mother, and John Dashwood agrees; however, his son John is also selfish, and fails to really help his step-mother and half-sisters as he promised to do.
John's wife comes far too soon to the home, giving the Dashwoods little time to grieve before they are reminded that they are to vacate the premises. Mrs. Dashwood is very angry at this lack of propriety that she almost storms out; but Elinor, her oldest daughter, persuades her to stay and keep good relations with her stepson.
Elinor is entirely sensible and prudent, able to handle people and situations very delicately; her sister, Marianne, is very emotional and never moderate, lacking some of the good sense that Elinor has. While Marianne and her mother are allowing themselves to drown in grief, Elinor is grieving too but also attending to matters at hand. Margaret, the youngest sister, is young and good-natured, and not as extreme in either sense or sensibility as the other two.

Chapter 2 Summary:

Mrs. John Dashwood immediately takes over as mistress of the estate, as Mrs. Dashwood and her daughters become visitors in their former home. Mrs. John Dashwood also questions the extent of her husband's generosity; she advises her husband not to give too much lest it diminish the future inheritance of their son. She talks him down from a gift of a thousand pounds apiece, to occasionally giving them help, of a non-financial sort. Fanny reasons that they will have no expenses and more than enough money; she figures that the four of them will be better off on their five hundred pounds a year than herself and her husband, although they have many thousands at their disposal. So, John resolves to only do nice things for them on occasion, and forget any ideas of giving them money at all.

Chapter 3 Summary:

Mrs. Dashwood and her daughters stay at Norland for a few months, because it is difficult to find a new home which they can afford with their small income. She knows of John Dashwood's promise to his father, her late husband, and this reassures her; neither she nor her husband were certain of John's sincerity, but he has been kind to her and her daughters, which means that he feels some sort of obligation at least. However, she does not like Fanny Dashwood at all, and would have left Norland sooner had it not been for the friendship developing between Elinor and Edward Ferrars, Fanny's brother.
Edward is very shy, but is a pleasant and kind person once people become familiar with him. Mrs. Dashwood is glad at the attraction between him and Elinor, more because he is nice and good-hearted than the fact that his family is very wealthy. Although his mother and sister have great ambitions for him, he is a very retiring sort, and wants a quiet life and peace instead. Mrs. Dashwood grows to admire him, and believes that the affection between him and Elinor will lead to marriage. However, Marianne does not approve so much, as she finds Edward less dashing and charming than is ideal. Marianne requires a man who is far more passionate yet has all of Edward's virtues; she despairs that she will never find such a man, though her mother reassures her.

Hopefully, this summary will help you out! Remember, reading Austen is different than reading current literature. As with many classic novels, much time is put into developing the characters and sharing their history before the start of the book. This can be tedious to readers who are used to a quick plot development! Hang in there!

1 comment:

  1. I didn't get to start reading it last night so I am going to start tonight. Did anyone else join in on your challenge?