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|Was Barton Cottage offered rent free?
Written by kathleen (elder)
(9/6/2009 1:11 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, "Five hundred a year", penned by Elizabeth K
The phrase used was "offer of a small house, on very easy terms" [emphasis mine], but not rent free. Does the novel indicate (in the first 8 chapters) that Mrs Dashwood would not be paying Sir John at all?
As for Fanny's predictions, she couldn't possibly know that the Dashwood women would find accommodations at low rent, let alone know what other expenses there might be. I don't think we are supposed to believe that the Dashwood women are impoverished, since they will clearly have housing & clothing & food, and will still be living as gentlewomen. In addition to supporting the 4 Dashwood women, however, the 500 pounds per year will have to take care of feeding & clothing their servants -- which is not something that compares as easily to today's world/life.
But as you mentioned: even if 500 pounds per year was enough for comfort, it would not be close to the amount to which they had been used -- and this is something that Fanny would definitely understand. They will only have 3 servants (compared to 4 times as many perhaps?), and they won't have a carriage or horses (meaning they will not have any freedom of travel). Less money for books, less money for food, less money for newer clothing -- they have definitely come down in the world. And should some major expense occur, then they will sink further still.
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