You are not currently logged in. Please create an account or log in to view the full course.

Austen: Sense and Sensibility

3. Sensibility

This is the course trailer. Please create an account or log in to view this lecture.

  • Description
  • Cite

About this Lecture


In this module, we think about the significance of 'sensibility' in the novel, focusing in particular on: (i) the meaning of the word 'sensibility', and the contexts in which it was used in the late 18th and early 19th centuries; (ii) the connection between sensibility and reading books; (iii) Marianne's criticism of Edward for reciting the poetry of Cowper without sufficient sensibility; (iv) the character of Willoughby, who does read with plenty of sensibility; (v) the extent to which the novel satirises the concept of sensibility; (vi) contemporary criticism of sensibility, including that of Mary Wollstonecraft in her Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792); (vii) the difference between Austen's critique of sensibility and Wollstonecraft's; and (viii) the extent to which sensibility is a kind of performance.


In this course, Professor John Mullan (University College London) explores Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility. In the first module, we think about the role of money in the novel. After that, we think about the themes of engagement and marriage. In the third module, we explore the significance of 'sensibility', before turning in the fourth module to consider the point of view from which the novel is narrated. Finally, in the fifth module, we think about the ending of the novel, looking specifically at Marianne's marriage to Colonel Brandon.


Professor John Mullan holds the Lord Northcliffe Chair of Modern English Literature at University College, London. He is a specialist in eighteenth-century literature, currently writing the 1709-1784 volume of the Oxford English Literary History. Most recently he is the author of How Novels Work (2006), Anonymity: A Secret History of English Literature (2008) and What Matters in Jane Austen?: Twenty Crucial Puzzles Solved (2012). A broadcaster and journalist as well as an academic, he writes a weekly column on contemporary fiction for the Guardian.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Mullan, J. (2022, February 07). Austen: Sense and Sensibility - Sensibility [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Mullan, J. "Austen: Sense and Sensibility – Sensibility." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 07 Feb 2022,

Get instant access to over 5,800 lectures