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|Just So Happens...
Written by BarbaraB
(8/10/2003 6:25 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, What do the neighbours think?, penned by KateL
Could someone kindly explain to me just how John gets away with this socially? Of course our heroines don't have any legal claim on his money, but they're his nearest connections and as head of the family, surely he has a responsibility towards them! If we, two hundred years later think he's an undutiful cad, what must his contemporaries have thought? Yet nobody mentions it, or seems to want to snub him at all.
It just so happens that I happened upon this statement in a JA Companion: "The death of Henry Dashwood and the occupation of Norland by the greedy Jonh Dashwoods initiate the action. The narrator's even tone implies it is as certain as death that men merely use dependent woman, that virtue goes unrewarded, that ingratitude, caprice , and selfishness prevail, that people do active harm and yet remain respectable. The Dashwood family had lived for generations 'in so respectable a manner, as to engage the general good opinion of their surrounding acquaintance'; and John Dashwood will clearly not lose the good opinion of his neighbours by leaving his dependent female relatives penniless." After some discussion of John Dashwood's character, it leads to this: "...the narrator makes it clear that his respectability reflects badly on his neighbours." I have always wondered how he got away with such bad behavior myself. I don't know if this is much of an explanation but hope this helps. :-)
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