Clutching My Pearls is about Jane Austen and the times she lived in. Lately I've been placing Jane Austen's novels in the context of other novels written during the same period. Click here for the first in the series.
"And you know there is generally an uncle or a grandfather to leave a fortune to the second son.” [says Mary Crawford]
“A very praiseworthy practice,” said Edmund, “but not quite universal. I am one of the exceptions, and being one, must do something for myself.”
-- Mansfield Park, Jane Austen
Money could be an important plot driver. Mr. Wickham turns his attentions from Lizzie Bennet to Mary King after Miss King acquires ten thousand pounds. Willoughby betrays Marianne Dashwood for Miss Grey and her fifty thousand pounds.
Even beyond romance, money dictates the opportunities for Austen's characters. Anne Elliot's father is a spendthrift, so the family must rent their estate and move to Bath. The poverty of Miss Bates and Mrs. Smith affects the roles they play in Emma and Persuasion respectively.