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Wealth And Happiness In Sense And Sensibility, By Jane Austen

1737 words - 7 pages

In the novel Sense and Sensibility, by Jane Austen, the Dashwood family is left with much less money after their father dies. When their cousin takes them in, they move to a new home and start their new life. In this time period money and social rank were the most important things. For most marriage has nothing to do with love, it is about gaining property, money or rank. This is why Elinor and Marianne’s, two of the Dashwood sisters, answers to the question: “what have wealth or grandeur to do with happiness?” (122) are so important. Elinor, the eldest Dashwood sister has all the characteristics of sense and responds, “grandeur has but little . . . but wealth has much to do with it” (122). She is implying that to be happy in life one must have money. Marianne seems to be the opposite of Elinor and embodies sensibility; she disagrees and claims that money “gives no real satisfaction” (122). This theme is seen throughout the novels with many characters specifically with the characters of the two Dashwood sisters, Edward, Mr. Willoughby and Colonel Brandon. These ideas influence the characters’ decisions and have many consequences.
Elinor is said to be the character that has the most sense. She sharply contrasts her mother and her other sisters who are much more open with their feelings. Elinor is said to follow all the rules of society. Her beliefs and attitude are what makes it so surprising that she decides to marry a man such as Edward. Edward’s fortune depends entirely on his mother and he must stay in her good grace to inherit any money. At first Elinor’s belief that money has much to do with happiness makes sense. She has feelings for Edward who is the eldest son and therefore should inherit all the money. However when Edward’s mother finds out he has been secretly engaged to Lucy Steele for four years she disinherits him and passes the fortune to his younger brother, Robert. When this happens Lucy breaks the engagement to Edward and he is free to marry whomever he wishes. When Edward proposes to Elinor she “was overcome by her own felicity . . . it required several hours to give sedateness to her spirits, or any degree of tranquility to her heart” (366). Elinor knows Edward is no longer the favoured son but this does not seem to matter; instead she places the blame on Edwards mother, “‘and your mother has brought on herself a most appropriate punishment . . . she will hardly be less hurt, I suppose, by Robert’s marrying Lucy, than she would have been by your marrying her.’” Their happiness does not get rid of the question of money, they still worry about what they will have to live on; “they were brought together by mutual affection, with the warmest approbation of their real friends, their intimate knowledge of each other seemed to make their happiness certain – and they only wanted something to live on” (371). Austen stays true to each of their characters and writes that “neither of them quite enough in love to...

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