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|I totally agree that it's relative
Written by Jan
(9/18/2006 5:39 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Its a comparative poverty, Jan, penned by JulieW
I have a copy of The Complete Servant and your extract illustrates their reduction in income in terms of what they now could afford and their status.
This is why Mrs Dashwood has most of my sympathy as for many years she has been used to a much higher standard of living than the one to which she is now forced to endure. I can see it must have been frustrating for Elinor to try and make her mother accept this but I also think that many other widows found themselves lowered from mistresses of large households to being dependent on the goodwill of relatives. This is a huge loss of status and security and for that I pity her.
As to supplementing their income by working... well I agree that if they did that then they would also lose their rank in society, their connections and all prospects for the girls. This is why it is so hard for them - they need to keep their claims to gentility but with limited income to support that. IMO it would be harder to be at the poorer end of the gentry class than at the richer end of the class below, especially if one had been used to being comfortable in one's own society.
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