Sense and Sensibility

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Fanny Dashwood Character Analysis

The wife of John Dashwood. Fanny is a greedy character. She doesn’t want John to give any money to his sisters, so that her son can inherit it all, and she cleverly persuades him out of giving his sisters any money. A bit of a social climber, Fanny is more concerned with wealth and status than love or character. She tries to discourage the possible marriage between Edward and Elinor early in the novel and when she finds out about Edward’s engagement to Lucy she becomes hysterical and throws Lucy out of her home.

Fanny Dashwood Quotes in Sense and Sensibility

The Sense and Sensibility quotes below are all either spoken by Fanny Dashwood or refer to Fanny Dashwood. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Love and Marriage Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin Classics edition of Sense and Sensibility published in 2003.
Chapter 37 Quotes

All that Mrs. Ferrars could say to make him put an end to the engagement, assisted too as you may well suppose by my arguments, and Fanny's entreaties, was of no avail. Duty, affection, every thing was disregarded. I never thought Edward so stubborn, so unfeeling before. His mother explained to him her liberal designs, in case of his marrying Miss Morton; told him she would settle on him the Norfolk estate, which, clear of land-tax, brings in a good thousand a-year; offered even, when matters grew desperate, to make it twelve hundred; and in opposition to this, if he still persisted in this low connection, represented to him the certain penury that must attend the match. His own two thousand pounds she protested should be his all; she would never see him again; and so far would she be from affording him the smallest assistance, that if he were to enter into any profession with a view of better support, she would do all in her power to prevent him advancing in it.

Related Characters: John Dashwood (speaker), Fanny Dashwood, Edward Ferrars, Mrs. Ferrars, Miss Morton
Page Number: 249-250
Explanation and Analysis:

Mrs. Ferrars is absolutely hysterical upon learning of her son Edward's engagement with Lucy Steele, and here Marianne and Elinor learn, through John Dashwood, just how far Mrs. Ferrars will go to try to convince Edward to act according to her wishes. In close detail, John Dashwood describes exactly which financial and social rewards she dangles in front of her son, as well as the economic punishments that will ensue if Edward persists in marrying Lucy.

Mrs. Ferrars is acting according to her own understanding of what is proper for a particular social class. Lucy is far below Edward in both rank and income, so while her marriage to Edward would represent a step up for her (and a way to gain greater stability, of course), for Edward it can only represent a social failure. Mrs. Ferrars, however, takes something that is socially common at this time - a concern for class differences - and takes it to its absolute, absurd extreme. Edward, meanwhile, may no longer be in love with Lucy, but his sense of honor prevents him from breaking his engagement with her. Society of course respects honor as well, which is why some people will respect Edward's choice; for others, however, the economic and social clash represented by their engagement is simply too much to stand, so Mrs. Ferrars can only be in the right.

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Fanny Dashwood Character Timeline in Sense and Sensibility

The timeline below shows where the character Fanny Dashwood appears in Sense and Sensibility. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Love and Marriage Theme Icon
Character, Sense, and Sensibility Theme Icon
Wealth, Class, and Greed Theme Icon
...moved into Norland Park immediately without giving Henry’s wife Mrs. Dashwood any notice. John’s wife Fanny “had never been a favourite with any of her husband’s family,” and now her “ungracious... (full context)
Character, Sense, and Sensibility Theme Icon
Mrs. Dashwood was offended by John’s wife Fanny and thought of moving out, but her eldest daughter Elinor persuaded her not to. The... (full context)
Chapter 2
Character, Sense, and Sensibility Theme Icon
John’s wife Fanny became the mistress of Norland, and Mrs. Dashwood and her daughters became mere guests. Mrs.... (full context)
Wealth, Class, and Greed Theme Icon
Fanny disapproved of John’s plan to give his sisters 3000 pounds. She asked him to reconsider... (full context)
Society and Strategy Theme Icon
Wealth, Class, and Greed Theme Icon
John told his wife that he couldn’t disobey his fathers dying request, but Fanny said that he hadn’t stipulated that John had to give his sisters money. She persuaded... (full context)
Love and Marriage Theme Icon
Women in Society Theme Icon
Wealth, Class, and Greed Theme Icon
Fanny worried that under such an arrangement Mrs. Dashwood would live for a long time and... (full context)
Love and Marriage Theme Icon
Women in Society Theme Icon
Society and Strategy Theme Icon
Wealth, Class, and Greed Theme Icon
Fanny said she thought Henry probably didn’t even intend for him to give his sisters money,... (full context)
Chapter 3
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Character, Sense, and Sensibility Theme Icon
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The more Mrs. Dashwood learned of Fanny’s character, the more she disliked her. However, she didn’t mind living at Norland that much,... (full context)
Love and Marriage Theme Icon
Character, Sense, and Sensibility Theme Icon
Wealth, Class, and Greed Theme Icon
...when he first arrived at Norland, but then Elinor mentioned how different he was from Fanny. She told her mother she’d like or esteem Edward, but Mrs. Dashwood said she couldn’t... (full context)
Chapter 4
Love and Marriage Theme Icon
Society and Strategy Theme Icon
Wealth, Class, and Greed Theme Icon
...was certain that Elinor and Edward would be engaged, though Elinor herself was unsure. When Fanny learned of Edward’s possible affection for Elinor, she did not like it at all and... (full context)
Chapter 5
Character, Sense, and Sensibility Theme Icon
Women in Society Theme Icon
Society and Strategy Theme Icon
Wealth, Class, and Greed Theme Icon
...for John to help his sisters as he had promised his father he would, but Fanny persuaded him that letting them stay at Norland for so long was help enough. Mrs.... (full context)
Chapter 18
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...Edward’s finger that had a lock of hair in it. She asked if it was Fanny’s hair. Edward blushed and, after a long pause, said that it was. Elinor thought it... (full context)
Chapter 33
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The next day, John visited his sisters, though Fanny was unable to join him. John was kind and polite to Mrs. Jennings and his... (full context)
Love and Marriage Theme Icon
Character, Sense, and Sensibility Theme Icon
Society and Strategy Theme Icon
...was wrong with Marianne. Elinor said that she had “a nervous complaint.” John said that Fanny used to think Marianne would marry before Elinor but now he was worried whether Marianne... (full context)
Society and Strategy Theme Icon
Wealth, Class, and Greed Theme Icon
...sides.” John was delighted with Lady Middleton and Sir John, and was eager of introducing Fanny to them. He said that Fanny had been worried that Mrs. Jennings and Lady Middleton... (full context)
Chapter 34
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Fanny had Mrs. Jennings and Lady Middleton to her home the next day along with the... (full context)
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...two had not yet met up in London, though Edward had arrived with John and Fanny. Shortly after this, Elinor found Edward’s card left at Mrs. Jennings’ home twice. He had... (full context)
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John and Fanny invited Elinor, Marianne, Mrs. Jennings, the Steeles, and the Middletons to dinner. Mrs. Ferrars was... (full context)
Love and Marriage Theme Icon
Character, Sense, and Sensibility Theme Icon
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Marianne’s outburst offended John, Fanny, and Mrs. Ferrars. Colonel Brandon, though, seemed to admire Marianne’s protective affection for her sister.... (full context)
Chapter 35
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...Ferrars was so fond of her. Lucy said she enjoyed meeting both Mrs. Ferrars and Fanny. (full context)
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...Elinor didn’t say much in response. Now that Lucy had a reason to go visit Fanny, she was sure she could spend time there with Edward. She continued to talk about... (full context)
Chapter 36
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...a good thing for the girls to socialize together. Around this time, a friend of Fanny sent her, John, Elinor, and Marianne an invitation to a party, thinking that Elinor and... (full context)
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...being critiqued by Anne, Marianne went with her sister to go to the party with Fanny. The party was unremarkable, but Elinor saw there the gentleman she had seen ordering the... (full context)
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When John and Fanny returned home after the party, John suggested that they invite Marianne and Elinor to stay... (full context)
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Fanny was pleased of being able to persuade her husband so easily, and wrote immediately to... (full context)
Chapter 37
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...whose baby was ill. They called a doctor, who had just been at John and Fanny’s home. As he was leaving Mrs. Jennings asked him if he had any news. He... (full context)
Love and Marriage Theme Icon
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Wealth, Class, and Greed Theme Icon
...explained that Edward’s engagement to Lucy had been found out. Upon hearing of the engagement, Fanny “fell into violent hysterics.” She scolded Lucy harshly and told her to leave their home... (full context)
Chapter 38
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Anne spoke of how rudely Mrs. Ferrars, John, and Fanny behaved with the matter of Edward’s engagement, before having to leave. When Mrs. Jennings and... (full context)
Chapter 41
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...and Colonel Brandon. After this development, Elinor felt that she should pay a visit to Fanny, even though she did not particularly want to see her. She went alone and John... (full context)
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...be of use to Mr. Ferrars.” John cautioned Elinor not to speak of Edward with Fanny, as it would upset her. (full context)
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At this point, Robert Ferrars entered. John went to go get Fanny, and Robert began talking of Edward. He laughed at the idea of Edward becoming a... (full context)
Chapter 46
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...bad for the contempt with which she treated the kindness of Mrs. Jennings and even Fanny, John, the Steeles, and the Middletons. (full context)