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Hanly, M.F. (2016). Sibling Rivalry, Separation, and Change in Austen's Sense and Sensibility. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 97(4):1057-1075.

(2016). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 97(4):1057-1075

Sibling Rivalry, Separation, and Change in Austen's Sense and Sensibility

Margaret Ann Fitzpatrick Hanly

(Accepted for publication 18 March 2015)

The paper explores a process of growth represented in the interplay of Jane Austen's characterizations of Marianne and Elinor Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility, approaching the text through the lens of psychoanalytic theories on oedipal sibling rivalry, separation, and processes of change. A close reading of Sense and Sensibility tracks Marianne Dashwood's repudiation of any ‘second attachment’ as the surface of an unconscious fantasy, denying a rival for the mother's love. A psychoanalytic view contrasts Marianne's lack of separation from her mother, her use of denial and projection, and her near death after losing the man she loves, with her older sister Elinor Dashwood's capacities for depression, reflection, and greater acceptance of loss and separation. The narrative portrays Mrs. Dashwood's identification with and idealization of her daughter Marianne, which contribute to her oedipal sibling ‘victory’. In the language and structure of the novel, the projections, identifications, aggressions, and separations (conscious and unconscious) of the sisters in the vicissitudes of their adolescent loves and rivalries constitute a process of growth. Austen's novel brings to life, with the vividness and coherence of great literature, forces and fantasies in oedipal sibling rivalries, inspiring renewed attention to their subtle presence in the transference and countertransference of the psychoanalytic process.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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