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General Discussion > If Mrs Ferrars disinherited Edward when he stuck to his promise to Lucy Steele...

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message 1: by Bu (last edited Oct 10, 2010 02:01PM) (new)

Bu (bu72) ... why didn't she oppose to his son Robert marrying her???

I NEVER understood that. Enlighten me please?


message 2: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum I think she liked Robert (notice I didn't say "love", as I'm not sure she was capable of it) much better than she did Edward. She also knew that Edward was more docile and persuadable, and she thought that she could keep him in line with her threats and punishments. Robert? Probably not. And then there were the characters of Lucy and Robert themselves, their deviousness, which enabled them to cajole and kiss up to her without the qualms Edward would have suffered. I think that like does call to like!


message 3: by Liz (new)

Liz Allen | 25 comments I actually have a feeling that Edward is her favourite - as he appears to be Fanny's favourite brother. The impression I get is that Edward's mother has "high expectations" for him. Therefore she will not allow him to marry a woman of lesser fortune and importance than she deems appropriate for her son.

Continuing with that thought, she probably doesn't care as much for Robert and appears to be content for him to please himself as he sees fit.


message 4: by Amalie (new)

Amalie Yes it is a good question isn't it. I think it's perhaps have something to do with the laws of inheritance. She has already disinherited one son she can't disinherit both, specially since she is a widow and women could not inherit property, right?

Remember Elinor comments on this marriage. She says something like Mrs Ferrars got punished for her snobbish and arrogant attitude towards both Lucy and herself. So may be her hands were already tied when they got married.


message 5: by Jennifer (last edited Oct 12, 2010 08:12AM) (new)

Jennifer Gentry (authorjennifergentry) | 97 comments Amalie wrote: "Yes it is a good question isn't it. I think it's perhaps have something to do with the laws of inheritance. She has already disinherited one son she can't disinherit both, specially since she is a ..."

I'm not sure that women couldn't inherit property. Consider that Anne de Bough stood to inherit Rosings upon Lady Catherine's death. So long as there was not an entail, or any brothers, I think that a woman possibly could inherit property.

I agree that it's possible that Mrs. Ferrars' hands were tied in that since she'd already disinherited one son, she could not very well disinherit the other without seeing her property and wealth pass to someone outside of the family.

So too, I think Lucy Steele's ability to suck up to her Mother-in-law made her a far superior choice for a daughter-in-law than Elinor (as I do not in any way see Elinor sucking up to Mrs. Ferrars). And Jane Austen herself tells us that both Robert and Lucy worked to favor Mrs. F to such a degree that she ended up having a change of heart regarding the marriage. From that, I believe Robert and Lucy are of similar mindsets. They will stoop to the lowest lows in order to get what they want--even if it means they must demean themselves with excessive flattery; something I'm quite sure neither Edward or Elinor would do.


message 6: by Amalie (new)

Amalie Good question Jenny and an answer, I always wondered how Anne de Bough stood to inherit after Lady Catherine. If anyone else knows better please enlighten us! about women inheriting during Austen's time.


message 7: by Alicia (new)

Alicia The reason Mrs. Ferrars and Fanny have such high expectations for Edward is because he is the eldest son. It's not because they like him better.

When Edward's engagement to Lucy Steele is revealed, Mrs. Ferrars makes over her fortune to Robert irrevocably--she cannot change her mind. That's why Lucy goes for Robert. Mrs. Ferrars now has nothing to hold over Robert's head, or Edward's either, for that matter. They can both do what they like.


message 8: by J. (new)

J. Rubino (jrubino) | 215 comments As to why Mrs. Ferrars didn't oppose Robert's marriage, it is because she was not aware of the attachment until they were married. Austen writes that Robert began to visit Lucy in order to persuade her to give up Edward. He was obliged to visit repeatedly because "Some doubts always lingered in her mind when they parted which could only be removed by another half hour's discourse with [Robert]" and so Lucy reels Robert in until "[Robert] was proud of his conquest, proud of tricking Edward and very proud of marrying privately without his mother's consent."

Mrs. Ferrars is in the fortunate position of having all of her husband's property and fortune bequeathed to her, except for a small sum (2000 pounds) set aside for Edward. It is her intention to give him a property with an income of a thousand a year, an income she offers to raise by an additional 200 pounds a year if Edward will give up Lucy. When he refuses, she withholds everything, transfers the right to the property to Robert with the resulting irony that Lucy does wind up marrying the property owner.

Women could indeed inherit property and money, and property could even be entailed through the female line. However, under the laws of coverture, a married woman's property and money came into possession of her husband upon marriage. Property was often preserved for a woman by placing it in a trust, which kept it out of the husband's hands (he might retain a life interest); premarital settlements often included a stipulation for "pin money", which was an allowance given to a wife for her sole and exclusive use.


message 9: by SarahC, Austen Votary & Mods' Asst. (new)

SarahC (sarahcarmack) | 1473 comments Mod
This are great thoughts and great info and the question in the beginning was very interesting. Apart from the legal question, I wonder if Mrs. Ferrars felt she would begin to look foolish if she continued disinheriting one son or the other, because wouldn't she? It is a great thought and the Ferrars family are some of Austen's most over the top folks.

I do like that Austen herself leaves this incident a little open ended with Elinor and Edward just leaving the situation and the people to themselves as they concentrate on their own happiness.

Thanks for sharing your knowledge of the marriage and property laws, J. I like reading in fiction about the marriage settlements that you describe. So with the earlier marriage laws, would there have been a legal cap on the amount of money that could be at the wife's discretion, or was that regulated "socially" -more simply what a husband was willing or expected to put up with as far as his wife's independence? And wasn't there a difference in the dealings of real property vs. money as far as what can be legally the husband's after marriage?


message 10: by J. (new)

J. Rubino (jrubino) | 215 comments Under the laws of coverture, a woman's property, real, money and "movables" became the husband's upon marriage. A married woman could not even make a will without her husband's permission. For this reason, if an unmarried woman was rich, there was an effort made to preserve her property in a way that the husband could not squander it - if her fortune was put in a trust, or settled upon her (so that the principle would be available to her when she was widowed), the husband was often able to have use of the interest. If a woman had real property, he might be given a life interest, while the property itself was held in trust for the children. This was the Dashwood situation - John Dashwood's father has a life interest in the estate, that is, the right to live there and to receive the income. He does not have the right to depreciate the estate, so he cannot sell off the lands or woods to enrich himself, because the full value of the estate is to be passed down to his son.
Widows who were in possession of property and money in their own right had complete discretion as to how it was bequeathed. Austen alludes to widows who have been left very well off in her two incomplete novels, Sanditon (Lady Denham) and The Watsons (Mrs. Turner/O'Brien).
A very interesting portrait of the situation is in Wendy Moore's excellent book, "Wedlock". It tells of the Countess of Strathmore who was the richest heiress in Georgian England; the premarital negotiations for her first marriage took more than a year and upon being widowed, she made a disastrous second marriage and became one of the few women able to obtain a divorce.


message 11: by Amalie (new)

Amalie J. wrote: "Under the laws of coverture, a woman's property, real, money and "movables" became the husband's upon marriage. A married woman could not even make a will without her husband's permission. For this..."

Thank you so much J for your explanation, it's so much clearer now.

J another question. Since Austen lived in Georgian England, why she is considered as a The Victorian Novelist?


message 12: by J. (new)

J. Rubino (jrubino) | 215 comments I don't know that I've ever heard Austen called a Victorian novelist - it would be using the term Victorian pretty loosely.


message 13: by Amalie (last edited Oct 16, 2010 01:47AM) (new)

Amalie Yes J. according to the chronological order she died, I think, even before Queen Victoria was born and the most accurate label would be that she is a writer of the Regency.

I have heard some refers to her as a Romantic or Victorian writer. Just wanted to know what the general feels.


message 14: by Rachel, The Honorable Miss Moderator (new)

Rachel (randhrshipper1) | 674 comments Mod
That was my reading as well--that Mrs. Ferrars couldn't change her mind after settling the inheritance on Robert, even if she wanted to. Lucy certainly was single-mindedly greedy!

I, too, have never heard of Austen being referred to as a "Victorian" novelist...EVER. Regency is ALWAYS the term I see associated with her. Whereever you saw that, Amalie, that person needs to brush up on their facts!


message 15: by Megan (new)

Megan Rachel wrote: "That was my reading as well--that Mrs. Ferrars couldn't change her mind after settling the inheritance on Robert, even if she wanted to. Lucy certainly was single-mindedly greedy!

I, too, have n..."


Seriously! Victorian? I think not!


message 16: by Robin (new)

Robin (goodreadscomtriviagoddessl) Wouldn't Victorian be in Queen Victoria's time. I thought that is were they coined the phrase.


message 17: by Megan (new)

Megan Robin wrote: "Wouldn't Victorian be in Queen Victoria's time. I thought that is were they coined the phrase."

Victoria was on the throne from 1837-1901.

She succeeded her Uncle William (1830-1837) who had succeeded his brother George IV (1820-1830) - George IV was the Prince of Wales before he became king and was called "Prinny" and was grossly obese and a total cad. He had been regent for his father (George III -(1760-1820) from 1811 to 1820 which period was called the Regency and is the time period in which Jane Austen lived and in which she was published.


message 18: by Amalie (last edited Oct 19, 2010 08:42PM) (new)

Amalie You are all right! These people seriously need to check the facts before making such 'strong' (or wrong) comments. Unfortunately, sad to say I heard it in the university. : O

Another thing, I think most poeple are biased when it comes to Austen. (May be in Asian countries or my country only) I've heard so many times my lecturers refers to her novels as "Domestic Novels" without much depth and often compares her work to that of Brontes. I think it's stupid. They lived during two eras and wrote what was concerning them socially, during their times (sigh) unfortunately some are rigid in their views.


message 19: by Robin (new)

Robin (goodreadscomtriviagoddessl) Yes, we readers of her work we know that we like her for her social commentary of her times. Sometimes people like to pigeonhole authors without thinking that they are doing the authors a disservice. Domestic novels indeed. Brontes to Austen, like comparing apples to oranges.


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