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|Several uses of the old gentleman
Written by Candice Michelle
(8/11/2003 1:40 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, A possible answer, penned by Vicki I.
] This is my third read of S&S and I continue to find "new discoveries". Althoug JA mentions the old gentleman only in this first part of the novel she delivers (IVHMO) a scathing commentary on the injustices of 16th-17th (1700s & 1800s) century law in regards to what women were allowed to inherit. The secure future of a widow and her female children was precarious to say the least and depended largely on the good will of her in-laws.
I agree heartily here. JA uses the old gentleman for three purposes IMO. 1) As Vicki I states, she uses him to criticize the inheritance system, which is a major theme in her novels.
2) She uses him to show the blindness of people that allows them to see only what they want to see. Though, as Barbara B states, he has had time to see John & Fanny's faults, he hasn't actually seen them. Due to the brown-nosing and manipulation that they no doubt used to get into his good graces, they have concealed their true characters from him. This is also a big theme for JA.
3) Spoiled children seem to be a pet peeve of JA's. Although this is only a minor theme, it shows up later in S&S, for example, in ch 7, where Lady Middleton's children are portrayed as being loud and spoiled, and her only occupation is to dote on them. It is also a minor theme in Persuasion. It is interesting that little Harry, who is the reason for the Miss Dashwoods being deprived of a great inheritance, is also the reason given for JD not giving them any money at all, "The time may come when Harry will regret that so large a sum was parted with."
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