Those that think too much of ‘pewter’ miss out on the warmth that real relationships can bring; the satisfaction that your partner won’t flee when the chips are down and when the real trials of life begin. Those with superficial values can be bought and seduced by the trappings of position: the overseas post, the expensive dinners and the holidays in exotic locations. Those that can enjoy the fruits but still act ethically towards their families and the people they work with are heroes indeed.
Recall in Sense and Sensibility, the deathbed promise is elicited from Manipulated-and-Mean-Husband-Mr John Dashwood to help his step mother and two half sisters. His father has no power to leave his second wife and three daughters any money. The property they have all lived in is to pass straight to his son from his first wife and leave his current family with very little. Mr John Dashwood acquiesced to his father’s wishes and “promised to do everything in his power to make them comfortable”. He was independently wealthy from his mother’s inheritance (his father’s first wife) and from his own wife’s fortune and now he was to get another substantial fortune. Three fortunes he could lay claim to and his step mother none.
Remember Manipulated-and-Mean-Husband-Mr John Dashwood does intend to give Mrs Dashwood, his step mother, and his half sisters three thousand pounds. But his wife, Supercilious-Superior-Sister-in -law, decides that indeed it would be unfair to their own “poor little boy” to give away such a large sum from the three fortunes. She talks around her husband, “what on earth can four women want for…they will live so cheap!….They will have no carriage, no horses, and hardly any servants; they will keep no company, and can have no expenses of any kind …And as to your giving them more, it is quite absurd to think of it. They will be much more able to give you something.”
Austen’s mastery of character is evident here – she knew how easily one can be persuaded to do the miserly thing. All Fanny Dashwood had to do was to play the victim card and tug the heartstrings: her little boy would be worse off. She goes further: Your father thought only of them……that if he could, he would have left almost everything to them. As Austen comments: This argument was irresistible. Manipulated-and-Mean-Husband Mr John Dashwood was successfully persuaded. He was reduced to doing some “neighbourly acts”; sending over some fruit or game or the like rather than giving any money. Their actions tell us a lot about these two!