Wealth and Happiness in Sense and Sensibility, by Jane Austen Essay

Wealth and Happiness in Sense and Sensibility, by Jane Austen Essay

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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. Ho...

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...oose wealth she shows that the consequences are not always expected.
Wealth and happiness was the common debate for most people at the time, and usually wealth would conquer happiness. Women, and even men, always wanted to “marry up” and climb the social ladder. Austen seems to convey the idea that one should marry someone for love but does put importance on money. Although most of her main characters marry for love she makes sure they have an income. Even the characters who claim that happiness is most important, such as Marianne, have a subconscious desire for men of wealth; and sensible characters such as Elinor hesitate at the idea of a marriage that would be made impossible by a lack of fortune. In the end love and happiness triumph over wealth and grandeur as Willoughby and Lucy lose the people they love and Marianne, Edward and Elinor live contently.

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