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Written by BarbaraB
(9/16/2006 12:18 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Not his grandfather, penned by Barbara
My first reaction was like Reeba's because that whole family did much to improve the quality of the uncle's life after his sister died. It wasnt't just their presence that made a difference but a genuine concern for his well being by a "constant attention...to his wishes" and not out of self-interest but from "a goodness of heart". On the other hand I have to agree with you about the uncle's right, as was common practice at that time, to keep the estate in the family because, after my disgust on behalf of the Henry Dashwood family, I remembered reading something a couple of weeks ago by Joan K. Ray:
"At the opening of the novel, Uncle Dashwood disinherits the Dashwood females and gives his estate to a 4-year old grandnephew. Now is that sense or sensibility? On the one hand, the uncle was charmed by the child's antics (sensibility) [and] on the other hand, the uncle undoubtedly sees that leaving his estate to the little boy ensures male Dashwood occupancy for several more generations (sense)".
Still, I guess my problem with the uncle is :
1. He had to have known that the wife and daughters would have been in a bad way fianancially if his nephew passed on at an earlier age than might be expected. I feel that if Henry had gone before himself, he would have done better by the woman. Thus, why couldn't he have foreseen the possiblity of the reverse, their being in the same position if Henry followed close behind him and been, having so much wealth, a bit more generous in what he left for the ladies.
2. Also, and if I'm wrong here, please correct me, it appears that he didn't even warn them that he had changed his mind, that he was not going to leave the inheritance to Henry outright. I know he didn't have to, but considering how great they had been to him, you would think it a small thing to do. I don't know, maybe, maybe not but it might have given Henry time to work out something better for his family. Although feelings (sensibility) did not necessarily govern one's actions when it came to family lines/estates a little more kindness would have gone a long way. It's almost as if the kindness of the Dashwoods was their undoing---- by agreeing to live with and keep the uncle company, etc. it presented the uncle ample opportunity to be in the company of the little boy which otherwise probably would not have happened. The visits of John and Fanny provided the opportunity for their son to steal his greatuncle's fancy, thereby triggering a desire in him to revert to the practice of keeping the Dashwood estate intact by preserving it for him. ---just my humble opinion, of course. :)
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