Sense and Sensibility
by Jane Austen
Sense and Sensibility Family Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
"Your father thought only of them. And I must say this: that you owe no particular gratitude to him, nor attention to his wishes, for we very well know that if he could, he would have left almost everything in the world to them." (2.6)
Fanny's flagrant disregard for the wishes of John's father demonstrates a curious lack of respect for the dead – her vision of family obligation is clearly on that doesn't extend beyond this mortal coil. Her view of family is also limited to the immediate family, and therefore more self-interested than one might expect.
"What are Mrs. Ferrars's views for you at present, Edward?" said she, when dinner was over and they had drawn round the fire; "are you still to be a great orator in spite of yourself?"
"No. I hope my mother is now convinced that I have no more talents than inclination for a public life!"
"But how is your fame to be established? for famous you must be to satisfy all your family; and with no inclination for expense, no affection for strangers, no profession, and no assurance, you may find it a difficult matter."
"I shall not attempt it. I have no wish to be distinguished; and I have every reason to hope I never shall. Thank Heaven! I cannot be forced into genius and eloquence." (17.2)
Edward's discomfort with his mother's plans for him is clear – he's simply not cut out for the role that his family imagines for him.
Elinor placed all that was astonishing in this way of acting to his mother's account; and it was happy for her that he had a mother whose character was so imperfectly known to her, as to be the general excuse of everything strange on the part of her son. (19.2)
Family here serves as an excuse for inexplicable behavior – it's natural that the one thing that usually motivates weird actions here should be blamed even when there's no proof.