Use of literary linguistic styles in Sense and Sensibility

The novel by Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility is popular in its themes that capture the tradition of the old practices of primogeniture and lives that are shaped by political intrigues. The author uses several literary techniques such as imagery, formal and long sentences, rhetoric questions and repetition to generate the themes of the book. It is a successful piece of work despite slight language flaws that are pardonable given the time of its writing.

Long and formal sentences

The use of long and formal sentences in Sense and Sensibility is brought out clearly in the writing. The long sentences make the reader think deeply about the character or the message that is to be passed across. These sentences are like:

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“What I mean is upset by the way in which I mean the way in which it is pain, the phoneme, the term pain, which has its set of connotations which take you in a completely different direction” and

Benjamin’s example is the German word Brot and the French word pain. To mean “bread, ” when I need to name bread, I have the word Brot, so that the way in which I mean is by using the word Brot”.

They are long and complex, using several commas and punctuations to bring out the message that the reader wants to pass across. These sentences are formal and belabor to bring out the idea of differences in the use of the word in two languages. Thus, the attempt to use description is possible with long sentences. They are usually passive sentences that illustrate and emphasize a particular concept (Schulz, (1981).

Irony and parallelism

Jane Austen’s use of the two devices are evident in the reference of bread and wine to the political life that she is pursuing as the main agenda in the text of Sense and Sensibility. Although the general theme in the book is that of modernity and progression as contrasted to the old practices such as primogeniture, the characters are used creatively to express engender similar themes. The conversation and use of brot and Pain et vin seem to have a different meaning and not plainly as expressed in the text. The political life is them likened to “Pain et vin” on one hand when used in French and the opposite in Germany. The discussion in the excerpt is more than the bread and wine that is expressed. Much as the author would want to enjoy this life, the other side that is upsetting and the opposite are contrasted. It may not be that bad or sweet but the fact that they are presented in the opposite light causes the reader to want to know why and how different they are.

Juxtaposition and paradox are used in comparing two terms that have a different or are in apparent opposition to each other. The words at the beginning of the excerpt, the phases in “Brot” and “pain,” between dire and vouloir dire” seem to be opposed and the author uses them to emphasize the difference and the implication of the two terms. When one understands one term and compares to what its opposite might mean, whether they know it or not, the reader gets to deepen the understanding of the subject in discussion. The same extends in other terms, “Brot”and “Wein”, which seem to be differing also in meaning in the context in which they are used. Juxtaposition is used to arouse consideration of the meaning of the words beyond what is apparent. It is not just bread or pain that the author referring to, but a concept that is likely to be painful or pleasing. Montgomery and Durant express that often, juxtaposition is used to refer to the deep meaning of objects represented in the text. It is up to the reader to read between the lines and relate the objects to the concept that is referred to.

Considering that “Pain et vin” means bread and wine” and pain are used in the context to illustrate a particular concept, the style used here is that of imagery. They represent a particular concept than what is just described in the text. It is not bread and wine that the text is explaining but the larger image of what they represent. They are used to imply satisfaction, pleasure, and contentment. It is the positive side of life when one is free from any trouble and worry. Beyond the text, there is a feeling that is expressed by the author.

The number of times the word “Brot” is spread throughout Sense and Sensibility, one notices the repetition and effort of using the words to express the meaning. Repetition is used commonly in literature for emphasis purposes. Brot and pain that seem to be diametrically placed in the text allude to a concept that is representing a particular concept. Emphasis is given in the two translations of the word“Brot” and what it actually means in both French and Germany. It gets to be the main theme in the excerpt that the author wants to express. As explained elsewhere, it is not just “brot” that the reader is to pay attention to but the general political aspirations of the author.

The first person description of the terms is a literary device that is used to express emphasis and the point of view of the story. The storyteller or the narrator in the first person creates a feeling of appreciating the story first-hand. This enables the reader to delve into the mind of the author and assess the tone and subject that is conveyed across. It arouses interest and makes the message to have more weight as compared to being narrated by another person. There is the use of “I” throughout the excerpt in Sense and Sensibility. It is through this that the readers see the description of the “Brot” that is being emphasized. The tone of the message is also brought out using this style.

The importance of first-person narration is also explained in the Cross-Ref website. According to the source, the use of the first person in the essay creates a sense of “directness and immediacy” through reading from the author’s personal experience. Therefore, there are limited chances that the message would be exaggerated or diluted in any way. It is through the author that we get the message. The message is, therefore, true and real in Sense and Sensibility. In the case of the excerpt, the author expresses her concern about the meaning of ‘brot” and “wine” when used in French and Germany.

The device can also be used to bring out other literary styles such as narrative irony. At the beginning of the excerpt, the author poses a question in the first person form in Sense and Sensibility. This captures the attention of the reader and the question itself is rhetorical. The author does not expect an answer but rather expects the reader to ponder to the reason for asking such a question.

However, the use of first-person narration is not always effective and requires skillful authors to succeed in using it as a literary style. It may lump so much information that is plainly presented that makes the whole piece to be dull and boring. Besides, the author is limited to areas of using it as the reader does not expect the author to know everything, especially in the multi-character setting. The reader gets used to too much of “I”s, which makes the writing to lack imagination or suspense. Sometimes, the reader wants to be “shown” rather than being “told” to break the monotony. Moreover, when the author does every part of the writing, it is doubted on the basis of authenticity. The author may also not be able to fully and effectively develop a subplot.

As the author narrates the experience in using the word in two languages, the audience is sometimes caught in humorous explanations the meaning is explained. The use of “I” is more often and the punctuations get the reader to pause and ponder what is the message that is presented. The author uses alliteration towards the end of the excerpt and uses it effectively to capture the interest of the audience. Throughout the conversation, the reader and narrator are in unison and using such punctuations and expressions amid the sentences.


The author uses several literary styles that are not so obvious in the text albeit their effectiveness. One of such that was apparent is the use of first-person that is used to create a sense of immediacy and access to the author’s mind. The style is simple but the poor is used flatly. Other styles that are used to develop the theme of the author are imagery and parallelism, particularly in the use of the phrases that have different and opposite meanings in French and Germany respectively. But important is why the terms were used. The context of the excerpt denotes a political life that is double-faced as represented by the two terms. The two terms can be said in another light to represent the style of the paradox. Though a short piece, the excerpt captures the general theme of the book and uses a variety of styles through the characters used.


Montgomery, M & Durant, A () Ways of Reading reading skills for students of English Literature, New York: Taylor and Francis

Schulz, R A (1981) “Literature and Readability: Bridging the Gap in Foreign Language Reading”, The Modern Language Journal, Volume 65, Issue 1, pages 43–53

CrossRef website, http://www.crossref-it.info/textguide/Great-Expectations/5/500

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