Sense and Sensibility
by Jane Austen
Mrs. Ferrars is a real piece of work. She's a stern matriarch who keeps a tight rein on her children – or tries to. She's got all the power, since she's control of the family's substantial fortune, and with this power, she rules her three kids with an iron fist. Poor Edward is too weak to stand up to her at first, and she basically directs his whole life (against his will). The only kid that really gets off easy is Robert, the baby of the family, who's clearly spoiled and intends to remain that way. Luckily for him, Mrs. Ferrars seems to have a soft spot for him, and even when he runs off and marries Lucy, she forgives him eventually. It seems that like sticks to like – Lucy and Mrs. Ferrars aren't too different in their social climbing, cold, manipulative ways, and this affinity holds up in the end.
We're not sure how this woman managed to produce someone as sweet, bumbling, and socially inept as Edward, but we're glad she did. He'll never really fit in with his siblings or his mom, but they reach as much of a compromise as possible – she never completely accepts him or Elinor as part of the Ferrars fold, but they all make up, and the family is reunited at the novel's close, albeit somewhat uncomfortably. Mrs. Ferrars's forgiveness of Edward implies that she does have some feelings – after all, she didn't want to totally alienate her children, who she does seem to love, in her own special fashion. Like most parents, she just wants the best for her kids. The problem is, she thinks that she's the only one knows what the best is. Sigh.