Study Guide

Sense and Sensibility Chapter 2

By Jane Austen

Chapter 2

  • After moving in to Norland, Mrs. John Dashwood (a.k.a. Fanny) and her henpecked husband try to decide how much financial support to give to his sisters.
  • Though John initially has a rather generous plan to give each of the girls a thousand pounds (a fairly substantial gift), his wife has other ideas – she complains that to remove a total of three thousand pounds from their young son's inheritance would be too cruel.
  • John protests that it was his father's last wish that he should take care of his half-sisters. Again, Fanny brushes him off, saying that the dying man probably didn't even known what he was talking about.
  • John then lowers the amount to five hundred pounds each – surely that's enough? Fanny agrees that's plenty of money. In fact, to her, fifteen hundred pounds altogether is still too much money to part with.
  • OK, back to the drawing board. John has the idea that perhaps he should give money to Mrs. Dashwood, instead, to benefit the whole family – say, one hundred pounds a year.
  • Once again, Fanny shoots him down; after all, she says cruelly, what if Mrs. Dashwood lives more than fifteen years? Then they would be out more than fifteen hundred pounds in total.
  • John agrees – after all, paying an annuity is such a hassle.
  • In the end, the couple settles on a simple solution: they won't give the Dashwood any money, except for the occasional small gift here and there. After all, they reason, what can a household of four women need any money for?
  • Fanny, of course, has to have the final word – she bemoans the fact that Mrs. Dashwood got all the nice china and furniture from Norland (apparently, getting the house and the money wasn't enough for Fanny – she wants the household things, as well!).