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Sunday, January 30

Jane Austen Throwdown: Mrs. Ferrars' Parenting Style

Mrs. Ferrars, Jean Marsh
While aware that almost all of Jane Austen's parents have their character flaws, I have chosen one parent who has been on my mind lately: Mrs Ferrars from Sense and Sensibility. Which child was the most negatively affected by her lack of parenting skills, whether by personality or economic circumstance or choice of mate?

Which sibling was most affected by Mrs. Ferrar's motherly style?

Fanny, Claire Skinner
Mrs. Fanny Dashwood

As snobbish as her mother, Mrs. Dashwood thinks only of her own consequence and comfort. She convinces her husband to disregard his promise to his dying father of making sure his step family is financially secure, and is manipulative and cruel in her actions towards the Dashwood women after Mr. Dashwood's death. Fanny echoes her mother's sentiments about Edward's choices in life, and favors Robert,  Meanspirited, self-absorbed, and myopic about her own fortune, this bitter nut did not fall far from the matriarchal tree.

Edward, Dan Stevens
Edward Ferrars

As eldest son, Edward is commanded to do his mother's bidding. He felt that had he been given some employment and something useful to do in his earlier years, his 18-year-old self would not have had the time to pursue his romantic inclinations towards Lucy Steele, and that he would have soon gotten over his tendre towards this most unsuitable woman. He is disinherited by his mother when she learns about his engagement to Lucy, and must make his own way in the world on a barely livable income, watching his brother reap the financial rewards that were his by right. Imagine what good deeds Edward and his thrifty Elinor might have accomplished had his mother approved of his marriage to a more worthy woman than Lucy ( which she failed to see) and provided him with a larger income.

Robert, Leo Bill
Robert Ferrars

Robert, an effete snob if ever there was one, is as mean-spirited as his sister. Although he is recipient of his brother's fortune, he lack of empathy for Edward's situation. He also lacks his sister Fanny's instinct for self-preservation, and makes the mistake of marrying Lucy Steele. After sitting in his mother's proverbial doghouse for a while, he and Lucy are welcomed back with open arms and her full support. But Lucy is as calculating and manipulative as ever and makes his life hell, so that soon all the couple does is quarrel. In Robert's case, beware what you wish for.

Which sibling was most affected by Mrs. Ferrars' motherly style?
Fanny Dashwood
Edward Ferrars
Robert Ferrars free polls


Gina said...

I said Fanny. Depriving the girls of their money was really awful.

Anonymous said...

In Edward's case, if Mrs Ferras hadn't disinherited him, Lucy wouldn't have pursued his brother and Edward would have had to marry her.