Sense and Sensibility
by Jane Austen
Sense and Sensibility Language and Communication Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
"I do not understand you," replied he, colouring. "Reserved! -- how, in what manner? What am I to tell you? What can you suppose?"
Elinor looked surprised at his emotion, but trying to laugh off the subject, she said to him, "Do not you know my sister well enough to understand what she means? Do not you know that she calls every one reserved who does not talk as fast, and admire what she admires as rapturously as herself?" (17.7)
Edward's communication problems emerge rather awkwardly here – he's surprised and perhaps ashamed by the idea that other people find his reticent nature notable. However, he's clearly uncomfortable and unsure of how to remedy this. We're not sure what exactly he'd say if he could come out and say whatever's on his mind, like Marianne.
"How charming it will be," said Charlotte, "when he is in Parliament! -- won't it? How I shall laugh! It will be so ridiculous to see all his letters directed to him with an M.P. But do you know, he says he will never frank for me? He declares he won't. Don't you, Mr. Palmer?"
Mr. Palmer took no notice of her.
"He cannot bear writing, you know," she continued -- "he says it is quite shocking."
"No;" said he, "I never said anything so irrational. Don't palm all your abuses of language upon me."
"There now; you see how droll he is. This is always the way with him! Sometimes he won't speak to me for half a day together, and then he comes out with something so droll -- all about anything in the world." (20.24-26)
There's a profound kind of communication block going on between the Palmers – as though they're both aiming at different conversations. Mrs. Palmer's ability to block out the rudeness of her husband and genuinely laugh it off as "drollness," in combination with the fact that he can say whatever he wants to her face without fear of hurting her feelings, is perhaps the key to their marital bliss.
"Me!" returned Elinor in some confusion; "indeed, Marianne, I have nothing to tell."
"Nor I," answered Marianne with energy, "our situations then are alike. We have neither of us anything to tell; you, because you do not communicate, and I, because I conceal nothing." (27.17)
The difference in Elinor and Marianne couldn't be made more plain – their different tactics on communication are clearly both flawed.