Sense and Sensibility
How we cite our quotes:
Mrs. Smith has this morning exercised the privilege of riches upon a poor dependant cousin, by sending me on business to London. I have just received my dispatches, and taken my farewell of Allenham; and by way of exhilaration I am now come to take my farewell of you. (15.3)
Willoughby's excuse for leaving Devonshire is ironclad – after all, in this world, when money says, "Jump," the only possible response is, "How high?"
"Strange if it would!" cried Marianne. "What have wealth or grandeur to do with happiness?"
"Grandeur has but little," said Elinor, "but wealth has much to do with it." "Elinor, for shame!" said Marianne; "money can only give happiness where there is nothing else to give it. Beyond a competence, it can afford no real satisfaction, as far as mere self is concerned."
"Perhaps," said Elinor, smiling, "we may come to the same point. Your competence and my wealth are very much alike, I dare say; and without them, as the world goes now, we shall both agree that every kind of external comfort must be wanting. Your ideas are only more noble than mine. Come, what is your competence?"
"About eighteen hundred or two thousand a year; not more than that."
Elinor laughed. "Two thousand a year! One is my wealth! I guessed how it would end." (17.2)
Wealth, we see here, means different things to different people. To Elinor (and Edward), it's simply a certain level of comfort – but to Marianne, there's a base level of luxury that she can't imagine herself living without. Of course, this idea is attuned to what her life with Willoughby would be like.
"I should be puzzled to spend a large fortune myself," said Mrs. Dashwood, "if my children were all to be rich without my help." (17.6)
Mrs. Dashwood's vision of wealth, unlike those of Marianne, aren't self-centered – rather, she sees wealth as an asset to the family, and can't imagine what she would spend money on if not her kids.