《Mansfield Park(曼菲尔德庄园)》小说免费阅读全文2021-A Note on Money in Austen's Novels

发布时间:2021-08-23 02:36:54   来源:网络 关键词:Mansfield Park(曼菲尔德庄园)免费阅读全文

Mansfield Park(曼菲尔德庄园)免费阅读全文

《Mansfield Park(曼菲尔德庄园)》是由【Jane Austen】撰写的一部小说

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A Note on Money in Austen's Novels

Few subjects fascinate students reading Austen for the first time more than money,and for good reason:Austen's characters themselves are both extremely interested in their neighbors'annual incomes and extremely well-informed about them.Their houses,grounds,and gardens,their trips to London,their carriages,their servants,their governesses,their pianos,and the fruit on their tables are signs of wealth and status.

During Austen's time,one's wealth is typically described as a yearly disposable income,a figure in turn calculated by multiplying the principal of one's inheritance by5percent(the interest earned by investing in5percent government funds).But determining the actual value of money during Austen's time is a greater challenge.In recent years,those of us accustomed to currency based on dollars rather than pounds sterling have been advised to multiply each pound sterling by anywhere from33,60,or200times in order to determine dollar equivalences for the United States in the late twentieth century,formulas that would put Mr.Rushworth's yearly disposable income of£12,000at around$396,000,$720,000or$2,900,000a year.Of course,scholars and economists are also quick to add that such formulas are misleading.First,the economy during Austen's time was still principally landed and agrarian,which means among many other things that the basic cost of consumer items is not comparable to their cost today,in an urban and industrial economy.Cloth,for example,which was not mass manufactured,was very expensive,and food generally cheaper.Second,wealth itself was distributed among a much smaller number of people than is the case today.When G.E.Mingay says that only four hundred families among the landed gentry during Austen's time had annual incomes within the range of£5,000and£50,000,with the average among these at£10,000(Darcy's annual income in Pride and Prejudice),we get some idea of the fabulousness of Rushworth's£12,000a year in Mansfield Park,and some insight into Sir Thomas's motives for wanting his daughter Maria to proceed with her marriage to Rushworth,even though he knows she does not love him.

If the stupendous wealth of Rushworth is the upper limit in Austen's novels,at the lower end is what her characters call a"competence,"which Edward Copeland has aptly defined as"the bottom line of gentility,increasing and decreasing with the pretensions of its possessor to rank and status."In Mansfield Park,Edmund's living at Thornton Lacey is£700a year,and this figure,twice as much as what was minimally necessary for a bachelor,is the bottom range of a competence for a married couple.At the end of Sense and Sensibility,the sensible Elinor Dashwood attains her dream of a competence when she and Edward Ferrars marry on a combined annual income of£850.Mr.and Mrs.Norris had an income of about£1000,which makes Mrs.Norris's stinginess more irrational.Commanding an extremely ample fortune of£4,000a year himself,Henry Crawford calls Edmund's income"a fine thing for a younger brother"partly because he assumes that Edmund will reside at Mansfield Park and that his living will be pocket money.The worldly Mary Crawford,with a taste for London life,is alarmed by Edmund's unambitious contentment with a competence.Five percent interest on her fortune of£20,000would bring in£1,000a year,and this money was more than a competence;indeed,it was sufficient even to cover some of the elegancies of genteel life,such as a carriage.Twice that much would be considered wealth for the minor gentry.More opulent luxuries such as a house in London required a yearly income of£5000or more.2

Lower down on the social scale are the Prices in Portsmouth.Assuming that Mrs.Price took the same lump sum of£7000to her unfortunate marriage that Lady Bertram brought to hers,she would bring£350to her family annually,a figure that would be supplemented by the£45a year Mr.Price brings in as a half-pay officer.Though hardly penurious,a yearly income of£395is not enough to maintain the gentility Fanny has been used to at Mansfield Park,even if the Prices can afford two(bad)servants.Austen herself lived with her mother,sister,and one servant on around£460a year,and when Mr.and Mrs.John Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility consign their stepmother and half-sisters to a similar income(£500a year),Austen describes their rationalizations with bristling irony:"[W]hat on earth can four women want for more than that?——They will live so cheap!Their housekeeping will be nothing at all;they will keep no company,and can have no expences of any kind!Only conceive how comfortable they will be!'"

Things get lower still for Austen's characters,though not in Mansfield Park.Left a total of£1000apiece at their great-uncle's death,the Dashwood sisters each contribute£50a year to their maintenance at Barton Cottage,and even smaller income(calculated by the precise Mr.Collins on a4rather than5percent basis)awaits the Bennet sisters of Pride and Prejudice after their father's death.Mrs.Smith in Persuasion cannot afford a servant,which probably puts her income at£50.As a governess, Jane Fairfax in Emma,like Jane Eyre after her,could look forward to a salary of£30a year.A common laborer would make around£25.In Mansfield Park Tom Bertram scoffs at Edmund's concern that the expenses from staging Lovers'Vows at home will amount to£20.



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《Mansfield Park(曼菲尔德庄园)》小说免费阅读全文、【A Note on Money in Austen's Novels】免费阅读,作者:Jane Austen。

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