From the very first scene in Sense and Sensibility, the audience is introduced to the gender inequalities of the legal system the 18hundreds, and they see the consequences it has as the Dashwood women are forced to leave their estate due to law stating it can only be inherited by a male. This prejudice puts them in a bad situation as they are left with no home, and, due to social rules; are unable to work.
As Elinor the films protagonist, talks to Edward, the audience is shown her view on woman’s inability to work . . . “you talk of feeling idle and useless imagine how that is compounded when one has no hope and no choice of any occupation what so ever’. Edward-‘Our circumstances are therefore precisely the same’. Elinor- ‘Expect that you will inherit your fortune, we can’t even earn ours”.
“Proper” ladies needed to always receive visits with grace, and could never be caught doing anything unladylike. When Edward pays the Dashwood woman an unexpected visit, the audience sees them rush inside and fret as they remove dirty aprons and pull out needle work and poetry, to appear as if they had been doing ladylike tasks instead of working in the garden. Although the audience would not suspect Elinor to do such things, they learn she still cares about how Edward perceives her.
As by social rules women could not work, they had complete dependence on husbands for financial stability, due to this, marriage was the significant pivotal point in society. Many women, such as Lucy Steele’s, main aspiration was to find a wealthy husband to insure themselves a comfortable future. However, as wealthy men were very sort after, to be eligible to “marry well” one must meet the social expectations that defined “a proper lady”. Women were expected to conduct oneself with pose and good manner, and appear dainty and feminine at all times.
The director choose to use the younger character of Margaret to display what behavior is acceptable for girls whom are not yet of marrying age, and how its contrasts compared to what is expected of the