Abstract

This essay situates Sense and Sensibility within the debate about the character concepts and psychological models that are most useful in explanations of un/helpful behavior, examining the thinking styles that inform the kind of altruism Austen’s heroine practices. What Austen admires is the (Lockean) exercise of “reasonable exertion,” which involves a rational assessment of one’s circumstances and objectives: a modus operandi that is sustained by a dispositional attitude of toughmindedness. While Elinor Dashwood is able to turn certain situations to her own psychological advantage, Austen finds that not even the most tough-minded of women can become invincibly rational in the pursuit of their own best interests.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. A195-A211
Launched on MUSE
2016-03-23
Open Access
No
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