Sensibility and Paul De Man Conclusions Despite Research Paper

  • Length: 7 pages
  • Sources: 5
  • Subject: Literature
  • Type: Research Paper
  • Paper: #70054660

Excerpt from Research Paper :


Despite the fact that De man was not a trained philosopher his post war theoretical work is majorly concerned with the nature of the subject and the language in addition to the role played by language and subject in the larger epistemological question of how and what one can claim to know. As a scholar in the field of literature, however, he often took his departure from, and kept returning to, the problems that mostly affect literature in terms of language and criticism. De man did some work in literary theory and criticism dating back to 1950s, although this work cannot be associated with any previous school of criticism that were flourishing during that era. (De man 567)

Research questions

What major theme does Austen bring about in her book 'sense and sensibility'

What styles does she use to build on the major theme?

Theoretical foundation

One obvious reason for the difference between de Man's approach and that of other schools prevalent at this time is the fact that he worked within a North American context, but brought with him a considerable body of knowledge of continental philosophical thought ranging from Kant, Hegel, and Nietzsche to the more recent work of Husserl, Heidegger and Sartre.3 It needs to be said, however, that in spite of this background in philosophy he never managed to integrate the diverse philosophical sources of his work into a coherent body of ideas that would have allowed him to develop a systematic theory of literature or an epistemologically grounded theory of interpretation. (Moore, Lisa 45)

De man did some literature in the early 1960s that distinguished his annihilative work of the 1970s, however there a considerable sense of continuity in his work. In his other book, De man argues that due to the authenticity that most literature is seen as anecdote rather than factual, they elucidate the alienation amidst a sign and meaning: it means more than what critics endure in sagacity because it lays bare the worthlessness of human matters as de Man quoted Rousseau). Due to the resistance in acknowledging that literature does not necessarily mean, De Man later observed that the language departments had become institutions that serve nothing other than their own subject matter as the academic work of literature that has become the craft of applying psychology, history and civics or other areas of study related to the literary text, in an effort to make the text have a better meaning

The key themes that are highlighted by De man are varied. He exerts to bring out the astriction between the bombast and meaning, this is what De man employs with the intent of bringing figurative language and trope to light he also seeks to bring out moments in the text where etymological forces attach themselves into the bond which curbs the process of understanding. The works by De man which are contained in his collection represent an attempt to seek out these anomalies in the texts of new criticism and move beyond ceremonial. His main point is that of darkness towards insight criticism this is asserted by the fact that the intuition seems instead to have been gained from a negative movement that animates the critic's thought, an unstated principle that leads his language away from its asserted if the very possibility of assertion had been put into question." Here de Man attempts to undercut the notion of the poetic work as a unified, a temporal portrait, a self-possessed repository of meaning freed from the internationalist and affective fallacies. In de Man's argument, formalist and New Critical valorization of the "organic" nature of poetry is ultimately self-defeating: the notion of the verbal icon is undermined by the irony and ambiguity inherits within it. Form ultimately acts as "both a creator and non-doer of organic totalities," and "the final insight...annihilated the premises which led up to it." (Sutherland, John 213)

In his other books de Man further looks into the attractions arising from the works by Nietzsche and Rousseau, he is engrossed in crucial avenues which have a meta-linguistic function or meta-critical implications, particularly those where figural language has a dependency on classical philosophical oppositions which are so central to Many of the essays in this volume attempt to undercut figural tantalization, the notion that one can control or dominate a discourse or phenomenon through metaphor. A good incident where De Man brings out the hereditary conception is in the book The Birth of Tragedy, where he appears to insinuate that history is for instance, he claims that genetic conceptions of history appearing in the text are undercut by the rhetorical strategies Nietzsche employs: "the deconstruction does not occur between statements, as in a logical refutation or a dialectic, but happens instead between, on the one hand, meta-linguistic statements about the rhetorical nature of language and, on the other hand, a rhetorical praxis that puts these statements into question." For de Man, an "Allegory of Reading" emerges when texts are subjected to such scrutiny and reveal this tension; a reading wherein the text reveals its own assumptions about language, and in so doing dictates a statement about undecidedly, the difficulties inherent in tantalization, their own readability, or the "limitations of textual authority."

Only his later work, largely based on deconstructionist ideas (though by no means discontinuous with his earlier phenomenological-existentialist writings), comes close to such an achievement. Let me begin my discussion of de Man's pre-deconstructionist work by taking a look at the dialectic of blindness and insight which he claims to have detected in the work of fellow literary critics and philosophers and which is the hallmark of the critical work produced during this phase. (Williams, Raymond 54)

The Romantic Period in history is generally dated 1780-1820 it is the concern of romantic writers to write about elements like nature, imagination and emotion. This era occurred due to the enlightenment with tended to value judicious and factual thought. This era begun with a literary category which attempts to explore more psychological issues of feeling, and emotion which many found to be obsessed with oneself in other words it places selfness first.

Austen published her first novel which is concerned with balancing the needs of society with the needs of the individual and she casts a cynical eye on the extremism of a movement known as the Sentimentalist, which had much in common with the Romantics. She does not mention any of the Romantic poets who were popular in that day with the exception of Walter Scott. (Watt, Ian 10)

The story is centered on two heroines, two sisters, who are opposite in nature. Elinor, the eldest sister, is a practical woman who feels deeply, but is vigilant in keeping her emotions in check. She understands that the needs of the individual cannot run roughshod over the needs of society. Yet, she is emotionally healthy and is able to care for her own needs.

Marianne, on the other side actualizes her Romantic soul. She feels that to control any emotion is damaging to the self in the end we see that just as Anne Elliot, in alluring, she was a slave to the society more than Marianne, at the opposite end of the social spectrum becomes just self annihilating in a different way. Next week we will delve deeper into the novel and into the character of these two very different sisters who represent 18th century society.

Symbolism is not the main style in Austen's writing. Although there are some things in her novel that are somewhat symbolic for example, how Marianne's passionate music or Elinor's careful, precise drawings express their personalities, nevertheless they're not exactly symbols. In essence, Austen is concerned with character; she doesn't spend much time describing things and their meanings, but rather she chooses to focus on the purely human aspects of the story.

Theme of Romance

In Jane Austen's book Sense and Sensibility, Marianne --the affectionate Dashwood sister is often badinaged by the narrator and her sister Elinor for being over-Romantic. In the introduction part of the book, Marianne is described as the one who is astute and brilliant, but eager in everything; her agony and her relief have no moderation. She is generous, affable and amusing: she is everything but judgmatic." Marianne is intense and passionate in everything she does, and is so exaggeratingly emotional, that by modern-standards she would be the quintessential drama-queen. Marianne has taken the ardent, fiery emotion delineated in Romantic poetry and integrated it into her own personality and life. Marianne has become a living work of Romantic art, but through the course of the novel, Marianne learns that she must be sensible and pragmatic to function in the real-world.

Edward is a good-hearted, respectable, but albeit shy young man who earnestly loves Elinor, but he only engages in as much emotion as conventionally proper in 18th century society. This does not satisfy Marianne... But then again, nothing does. (Troost, Linda, and…

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