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Mrs. John Dashwood
Jane Austen perceives Mrs. John Dashwood as a “ Narrow-minded and selfish”(5) person that is
unconcerned about the feelings of others. Jane Austen gives a vivid description of Mrs. John Dashwood’s
selfish actions and illustrates her selfishness in the text. Mrs. John Dashwood shows no concern for her
husband’s family when his father dies. She does not want to assist them when her husband’s sister is in
need of money. She uses manipulation to make her husband believe that he should not help his family.
Jane Austen portrays Mrs. John Dashwood as a person that is only concerned about herself and is
incapable of loving anyone but herself.
In the beginning, Austen states that Mrs. John Dashwood “installed herself as mistress of
Norland”(7). Mrs. Dashwood makes an obtrusive entrance into the lives of the grieving Dashwood family.
She immediately arrives at Norland with her child and attendants without sending any notice. She is not
welcomed by the Dashwood family. Austen shows that the “indelicacy of her conduct” displays her lack of
concern for others(5). Her father-in-law has just died and her concern is not for her husband or his family.
She is only concerned with herself.
Then, when John Dashwood wants to obey his father’s wishes by giving his sisters money to help
them, Mrs. John Dashwood convinces him that “to take three thousand pounds from their dear little boy,
would be impoverishing him to the most dreadful degree”(7). Mrs. John Dashwood uses manipulation to
persuade her husband not to give monetary assistance to his father’s widow and children. Mrs. John
Dashwood’s statement makes Mr. John Dashwood question his idea to help his sisters. “How could he
answer it to himself to rob his child, and his only child too, of so large a sum”(7). Mrs. John Dashwood
uses guilt to make her husband change his mind. The fortune left to Mr. John Dashwood is large enough
that giving three thousand pounds to his sisters would not take away from his son’s inheritance. Mrs. John
Dashwood seems to be expressing a concern for her son’s future. However, at the young age of four years
old, her son could not possibly need his inheritance anytime soon. The!
refore, she could not have been too concerned about the future of her son. The only person Mrs. John
Dashwood seems to be concerned with is herself.
In the end, Mrs. John Dashwood convinces her husband that his father was not “in his right
senses”(7) when he asked him to assist his widows and daughters. She convinces him that his father did
not mean monetary assistance, but probably meant John Dashwood should help them with “looking out for
a comfortable small house for them, helping them to make their things and sending them presents of fish
In conclusion, Jane Austen shows Mrs. John Dashwood’s lack of concern for others when she
does not want to help her husband’s grieving family. She convinces her husband that these people are not
his real family. When she uses manipulation, however, it shows a lack of respect for the decision-making
of her husband. This is not love. Austen shows that because of Mrs. John Dashwood’s selfishness and
greed she is incapable of loving anyone but herself.
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Jane Austen, English-language films, Sense and Sensibility, Films, Elinor Dashwood
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