Sense And Sensibility Character Review: Mrs. Jennings

*Warning: This post contains spoilers in regards to the narrative and characters from the novel Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. Read at your own risk if you have not read the book or seen any of the adaptations.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Sense and Sensibility to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

Every author, regardless of genre, relies on a stable of character tropes when creating the characters that inhabit the world of their stories. One of the familiar character tropes that readers of Jane Austen will recognize is the character that induces eye rolling and internal groaning. This character for the most part, is female, older and though she has good intentions, sometimes runs her mouth off without thinking.

In Sense And Sensibility, this character is Mrs. Jennings. Mrs. Jennings is a wealthy widow who is distantly related via marriage to the novel’s heroines, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood. With both of her daughters married, Mrs. Jennings is more than happy to play matchmaker for Elinor and Marianne. The problem is that her advice/attention is unwanted by the girls. Mrs. Jennings also lacks the self awareness that she sometimes has, well, foot in mouth disease.

To sum it up: While Mrs. Jennings is peripheral character, she in her own way, contributes to the narrative. As writers, we have to remember that every character plays a role in the narrative, whether they are central to the plot or they come and go as needed. The peripheral characters may not be front and center, but they still as important as the main characters. We cannot forget them or marginalize them, for if we do that, the story loses some it’s humanity and it’s color. That humanity and color is vital to the narrative, otherwise it will be just another story with another set of characters.


It’s More Than Mental Health

The shooting yesterday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that left 17 people dead reminded us that once more we must publicly grieve the loss of innocent lives due to unnecessary gun violence.

In addressing the nation this morning, you know who put much of the blame on the shooter’s mental illness. He did not mention that the shooter was able to legally purchase a weapon is meant to be used on the battlefield and not in every day civilian life.

I have two problems with this statement:

  1. Millions of people around the world (myself included) suffer from mental illness. Only a tiny fraction of us spiral down into murdering innocents, but the news reports would make it seem like mental illness is the only reason for the shooting. Unlike other medical conditions, mental illness carries a stigma. Using mental illness as a framing device for any mass shooting, regardless of the state of mind of the shooter is counterproductive in erasing the stigma and helping those who are suffering.
  2. I know it’s been said every which way for a generation, but we need reasonable gun laws now. We needed them yesterday and the day before, but some of those in power are continuing to turn a deaf ear to the cries of the survivors and the loved ones of the victims. But while they are turning a deaf ear to the voting and grieving public, they seem to have no problem accepting money from the NRA.

My heart breaks for the survivors and the victim’s families. There are no words we can use to bring back their loved ones and dry their tears. But there are laws that can be put on the books and enforced to prevent another mass shooting and we can stop using mental illness as a crutch for mass shootings.

The question is, are we willing to do so or will we continue to see lives lost for no reason?

Throwback Thursday-The Ernest Green Story (1993)

To be the first in anything is to become a hero. It is also a difficult journey that tests the strongest among us. Ernest Green is a part of the Little Rock Nine, a group of African-American students who were chosen to desegregate Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. He is also the first African-American student to graduate from  the school in 1958.

In 1993, his story was told in The Ernest Green Story.  Morris Chestnut played the title role in the television movie.

I feel like this is one of those movies we should all see, regardless of race or ethnicity. America in 2018 is not the same America of the late 1950’s. But we are also, not so far away from the period. If nothing else, this film is not only a reminder of how far we have come, it is also a reminder that the battle for civil rights and true equality still needs to be fought.

I recommend it.


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