In modern society, marriage is celebrated with diamond rings, champagne and expensive dresses, but how do those materials actually relate to love? In "Sense and Sensibility", Austen creates a society that redefines marriage, and disconnects it from romantic love. In her novel, marriage is controlled by society's relentless influence, making relationships in marriage less important. By creating this obstacle in her novel, Austen makes her readers question the established definition of marriage, and encourages them to create their own marital paradigm that overlooks the influences of society.
In "Sense and Sensibility", Austen illustrates how society replaces love with material values in marriage. In the opening of her novel, Austen emphasizes the influence that the character's and their spouse's inheritance holds over their lives: "By a former marriage, Mr. Henry Dashwood had one son: by his present Lady, three daughters. The son... was amply provided for by the fortune of his mother...
[and] by his own marriage... he added to his wealth. His wife had something considerable at present, and something still more to expect hereafter from her mother" (Austen 5). This quote illustrates the inseparable entanglement that Austen creates between money and marriage. Instead of describing the character's personalities or achievements, Austen introduces and evaluates them according to their total inheritance. Austen also provides a history of the Dashwood Estate, and its "preservation from generation to generation through the elaborate legalities of inheritance and succession"(Southam). By constantly stressing inheritance, Austen makes her readers aware that marriage is just a social contract that binds two bank accounts together. By making this assertion in her novel, Austen leads her readers to question society's definition of marriage, and encourages them to create their own marital paradigm overlooking monetary value.
In "Sense and Sensibility", Austen also illustrates how marriage has become a familial decision,