Sense and Sensibility

The Vulnerability of Male Wealth in Sense and Sensibility College

Jane Austen's books are too often reduced to simple two-sided issues, and are often seen in a narrow and restrictive light. Instead of being a novel primarily concerned with romantic attachments or the close sisterly bond between Elinor and Marianne Dashwood, however, Austen's Sense and Sensibility can be read as a fiscally-centered creation, driven principally by an underlying concern with monetary affairs. This pecuniary understanding of the novel allows the audience to explore the complexity of inheritance issues, as well as the power dynamics that so fundamentally concerned both men and women in Austen's epoch. While a more common reading of Sense and Sensibility focuses on the idea of female economics in the novel, it soon becomes clear that the issue of male wealth deserves a closer examination as well.

The very first paragraph of Sense and Sensibility opens with the legal concerns of the Norland Park estate, effectively setting up a vignette of a family in the midst of severe economic turmoil. It is precisely because of these convoluted legalities that Henry Dashwood’s younger family members – Marianne, Elinor, their sister and mother – are displaced from their home and sense of security. Essentially, the catalyst for...

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