Austen sets her heroines some tricky tests. But what exactly do they reveal? Acknowledging the complexity of her thought, this approach examines the many different elements to which she is attentive, and in particular those concerning personality, the understanding, and the situation. It suggests that—like Locke—she is interested in factors that facilitate or hinder states of reasonableness and conscious control. Challenging readings of her work which focus primarily on conceptions of character to be found in theories of virtue ethics, this essay analyzes the various “powers” that her characters are able (or unable) to draw upon or resist.