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Written by Jan
(9/18/2006 1:34 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, 4 people and 3 servants, penned by Barbara
We can't think of their relative poverty by considering ourselves, as the notion of having 3 servants while being on a limited income is beyond our modern comprehension. While I agree with posts below that talk about servants then being like domestic appliances now, it doesn't help me much to look at it that way because the majority of people in our society have those appliances whereas the majority of people then couldn't afford 3 servants.
I like your point about thinking about it as an 80% reduction in income - that helps to put their plight in perspective.
I always struggle in S&S to think of the Dashwood ladies as poor because they were very far from poor. They had £500 a year when the average labourer had to raise a family on £30 per year and many farm labourers in rural areas had even less than that. If you look at them from a £5000 per year perspective then they are poor but looked at from the wages of many at the time, they would be considered comfortably affluent.
IMO where they are to be pitied is that they lose their husband/father, their home, their lifestyle and their security. That would be hard for anyone, whatever their rank and income. In many ways I feel sorrier for Mrs Dashwood than the girls as she has never had to save money or think of economies before. She has three daughters to launch into the world but without the income required to do this in the way she might have expected. It would be hard for anyone to reduce their income by 80% so thanks for that insight.
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