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|Some musings on age differences.
Written by Barbara
(9/21/2006 1:43 a.m.)
No matter how charming we might find Colonel Brandon, there is no arguing that there is quite an age difference between 17 and 35. And while Marianne's pronouncements about his 'age and infirmity' and her supposition that the only reason he might wish to marry would be to acquire a live in nurse are meant to be laughable, still I can see that he would seem to be 'exceedingly ancient' to her at first.
I have a close male friend who is about the same age older than me as Colonel Brandon is older than Marianne. Except for the fact that my friend has grandchildren and I am a good 15 years (fingers crossed) away from that, the age difference is absolutely irrelevant. Still, I doubt that I would have befriended this person when I was a teenager and he in his mid-30s.
However, while John and Fanny seem to be close in age, and while Edward is not a lot older than Elinor, there are other age gaps in the story. The Middletons, for example have a 14 year age difference with Lady Middleton at 26 and Sir John at 40. Because they have a 6 year old child, they were no more than 19 and 33 when they married--I find that interesting that this span is like adding two years to Marianne's age and subtracting two from the colonel's.
I also find it interesting that with Sir John five years older than Brandon and with a six year old plus three younger children, clearly at age 35 his wife was not just being a nursemaid to him!
Also, Marianne's parents must have had a bit of an age difference. When Henry Dashwood died, he had a 26 year old son (approximately). We don't know Henry Dashwood's age, but surely he wouldn't have married his first wife before he was of age himself, so that would make him 22 at the earliest when John was born--very likely older, though. He was probably at least 50 when he died. He may have been even older than that, as it sounds as though he died from natural causes and not as the result of an accident or sudden illness, as there was time to call John to his sick bed, etc. So it's fair to assume there was at least a 10 year age difference between the Dashwoods, probably.
Was there some sort of belief or notion at this time that it was more desirable for the husband to be at least a little older than the wife, so he could guide her and she could look up to him?
I wonder whether John Dashwood would have been so influenced by his wife if he hadn't married so young, but instead married when he was a little older and to someone who wasn't controlling him?
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