deficiency of all mental improvement

Category: Education | Type: Discussion | Title: Sense and Sensibility (in Context) | Author: Jane Austen | Ch: Chapter 22

This is Austen's primary use of "improvement"—the cultivation through moral and intellectual education of in this case a woman who was "naturally clever."

Austen is writing during the last and most active stage of the Enclosure (Search) movement, which offers graphic proof of the benefits of turning wild, unproductive land into useful, arable pasture. Lucy is an instance of a good but undeveloped mind that now displays "want of delicacy, rectitude, and integrity of mind" and who "joined insincerity with ignorance." A damning epitaph. In the background is the question, Will this be the fate of the Middleton children, the Dashwood children, the Palmer children, fortified by large sums of money?

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