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|I Can't Help Wondering
Written by BarbaraB
(10/8/2006 2:31 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, They could rent another cottage, penned by Tracy W
I can't help wondering if it would be all that easy to rent 'another' cottage. It wasn't that easy to get one to begin with: But she could hear of no situation that at once answered her notions of comfort and ease, and suited the prudence of her eldest daughter... It was through the good graces of Sir John that they got Barton Cottage as it was and, as already pointed out, that could have its risks. It would seem to me that it would be even riskier renting from someone who does not have any sense of responsibility, committment or obligation as might a relative. In my opinion there would be the constant possibility of the owner suddenly needing to make his cottage available to relations and/or close friends of his own who might find themselves in a situation similar to the Dashwoods. I can't imagine they could enjoy much ease of mind in renting from a stranger as such. ---just my opinion.
The Dashwoods do have to marry in order to remain/regain their status in the upper tier of the gentry since they are not independently wealthy. Otherwise they would be subject to a life of 'genteel poverty'. To us this all sounds a bit crazy because we see their 'poverty' as being leaps and bounds better than what many of us grew up in ourselves or even exist in today. But this was a 'system' that the gentry wanted to preserve and in order to do so, one had to retain a certain level of respectability when it came to money and conducting ones' self according to the 'rules'. While, as you say, it was not essential, they marry to keep them out of the hedgerows, "In Austen's day, single woman who weren't wealthy were scorned as spinsters, so marriage conveyed status for a woman... ...The husband protected the wife and secured her place in society..." (Joan Kligel Ray) In some instances 'scorned' might seem a bit harsh but 'poor' spinsters were often treated differently. In our last group read, we saw an example of this. Friends and neighbors were kind to the characters I'm speaking of and helped out, yet, at one of the parties they were only invited to the after dinner entertainment because they had lost their 'upper gentry' status due to a lack of funds. It was an unfortunate part of the way things worked and if the Dashwood sisters were to avoid a similar fate, they would have to marry. :)
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