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Emma, Chapters 44-45
Emma, Volume III, Chapters VII & IX
November 21, 2016
3:26 PM
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First a little review of what happened in last week’s reading that leads to my thoughts on this week’s reading.

Jane leaves. There is a quarter hour of “silence.”  Then, Mr. Frank Churchill arrives and is uncharacteristically cross. 

Jane had not been gone a quarter of an hour, and they had only accomplished some views of St. Mark’s Place, Venice, when Frank Churchill entered the room. Emma had not been thinking of him, she had forgotten to think of him—but she was very glad to see him. Mrs. Weston would be at ease. The black mare was blameless; they were right who had named Mrs. Churchill as the cause. He had been detained by a temporary increase of illness in her; a nervous seizure, which had lasted some hours—and he had quite given up every thought of coming, till very late;—and had he known how hot a ride he should have, and how late, with all his hurry, he must be, he believed he should not have come at all. The heat was excessive; he had never suffered any thing like it—almost wished he had staid at home—nothing killed him like heat—he could bear any degree of cold, etc., but heat was intolerable—and he sat down, at the greatest possible distance from the slight remains of Mr. Woodhouse’s fire, looking very deplorable. (Chapter 42)

Frank is not cross at Boxhill, but Emma does mention (although I am not quoting that part) that he is dull and really not himself.  Then, there is this which happens as the Eltons go off by themselves.

“Happy couple!” said Frank Churchill, as soon as they were out of hearing:—“How well they suit one another!—Very lucky—marrying as they did, upon an acquaintance formed only in a public place!—They only knew each other, I think, a few weeks in Bath! Peculiarly lucky!—for as to any real knowledge of a person’s disposition that Bath, or any public place, can give—it is all nothing; there can be no knowledge. It is only by seeing women in their own homes, among their own set, just as they always are, that you can form any just judgment. Short of that, it is all guess and luck—and will generally be ill-luck. How many a man has committed himself on a short acquaintance, and rued it all the rest of his life!”

Miss Fairfax, who had seldom spoken before, except among her own confederates, spoke now.

“Such things do occur, undoubtedly.”—She was stopped by a cough. Frank Churchill turned towards her to listen.

“You were speaking,” said he, gravely. She recovered her voice.

“I was only going to observe, that though such unfortunate circumstances do sometimes occur both to men and women, I cannot imagine them to be very frequent. A hasty and imprudent attachment may arise—but there is generally time to recover from it afterwards. I would be understood to mean, that it can be only weak, irresolute characters, (whose happiness must be always at the mercy of chance,) who will suffer an unfortunate acquaintance to be an inconvenience, an oppression for ever.”

He made no answer; merely looked, and bowed in submission; and soon afterwards said, in a lively tone… (Chapter 43)

 

Some strong words there from Miss Fairfax and a silent reply from Mr. Frank Churchill! What conversation were they really having in the presence of the gathered company that they only understood while the others thought they understood?  (And why do I think Frank needs to take up Captain Wentworth’s letter writing skills here?)

That brings us to this week’s chapters.  And, believe it or not, it is Miss Bates that gives another moment of pause and consideration about the silence that had occurred earlier. (Didn’t I tell you that what Miss Bates says is important and should not be ignored? 😉 )

“Yes; Jane says she is sure they will; but yet, this is such a situation as she cannot feel herself justified in declining. I was so astonished when she first told me what she had been saying to Mrs. Elton, and when Mrs. Elton at the same moment came congratulating me upon it! It was before tea—stay—no, it could not be before tea, because we were just going to cards—and yet it was before tea, because I remember thinking—Oh! no, now I recollect, now I have it; something happened before tea, but not that. Mr. Elton was called out of the room before tea, old John Abdy’s son wanted to speak with him. Poor old John, I have a great regard for him; he was clerk to my poor father twenty-seven years; and now, poor old man, he is bed-ridden, and very poorly with the rheumatic gout in his joints—I must go and see him to-day; and so will Jane, I am sure, if she gets out at all. And poor John’s son came to talk to Mr. Elton about relief from the parish; he is very well to do himself, you know, being head man at the Crown, ostler, and every thing of that sort, but still he cannot keep his father without some help; and so, when Mr. Elton came back, he told us what John ostler had been telling him, and then it came out about the chaise having been sent to Randalls to take Mr. Frank Churchill to Richmond. That was what happened before tea. It was after tea that Jane spoke to Mrs. Elton.” (Chapter 44)

This seems an odd thing to have happened right before Jane changes her mind and takes a position as a governess, does it not? Why would Mr. Frank Churchill’s removal to Richmond precipitate this reversal in position from Jane?  And then why in Chapter  45 do we have Jane allowing herself to be seen by Mrs. Cole and Mrs. Elton, but refusing Emma’s every offer of help?

When Emma afterwards heard that Jane Fairfax had been seen wandering about the meadows, at some distance from Highbury, on the afternoon of the very day on which she had, under the plea of being unequal to any exercise, so peremptorily refused to go out with her in the carriage, she could have no doubt—putting every thing together—that Jane was resolved to receive no kindness from her. She was sorry, very sorry. Her heart was grieved for a state which seemed but the more pitiable from this sort of irritation of spirits, inconsistency of action, and inequality of powers; and it mortified her that she was given so little credit for proper feeling, or esteemed so little worthy as a friend: but she had the consolation of knowing that her intentions were good, and of being able to say to herself, that could Mr. Knightley have been privy to all her attempts of assisting Jane Fairfax, could he even have seen into her heart, he would not, on this occasion, have found any thing to reprove. (Chapter 45)

Why is Jane so very set against Emma? (And why am I seeing visions of Marianne Dashwood, right before Colonel Brandon must rescue her?) What happened in that quarter hour of silence last week? I have my ideas but would love to hear yours.  Write them as a scene or just as thoughts. 

November 23, 2016
2:52 PM
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I believe that Frank and Jane argued because of all of the flirting with Emma to the point where everyone notices and the tip of the iceberg for Jane was Frank being late and exposing her to Mrs. Elton and her pushyness.

November 23, 2016
3:53 PM
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An Ode to Marianne

Jane had been wandering in the meadows beyond Highbury she knew not how long – one, maybe two hours. She had escaped from her relations’ rooms as if the hounds of hell were on her tail: ignoring her Aunt’s protestations regarding her health, not bearing to look her grandmother in the eye, desperate to get beyond those stiflingly close walls and find the space to think.

Yet space was not enough, nor was time possessed in such quantities as required to calm the riot in her brain. What she needed was to speak to Frank. She must know his intentions. When they last parted that awful day on Box Hill it was with seemingly mutual, if unspoken agreement that their understanding was no more. Her hopes had remained alive that he would yet clarify his actions towards Miss Woodhouse and make amends, but instead she received word that he had shed off to Richmond without a parting word. Her hopes dashed, Mrs. Elton’s offer of a position with Mrs. Smallridge suddenly became a lifeline instead of a burden. She clung for it thoughtlessly: it was a mindless act of self-destruction. Never could she have imagined how things would come to pass.

Mrs. Churchill was dead. It changed everything, or maybe nothing at all. Frank would now be free to marry where he wished, but Jane was anything but certain that she was still his object. He seemed intent on attaching himself to Miss Woodhouse. Emma Woodhouse! Of all people! Forever Jane had lived in her shadow, forced to admire her easy perfection while struggling to achieve the accomplishments that so effortlessly came to the heiress. To now lose Frank to her! He had long maintained that Miss Woodhouse suspected their relationship, a notion which Jane had readily laughed off, but now she feared the lady knew precisely what she was about: just what she had taken, just what it meant for Jane, and now she was intent on basking in her triumph. After her biting words to Miss Bates, Jane would put no meanness beyond Emma’s capabilities. Jane knew better than to dwell on the inequalities of life – such meditations led to nothing but dissatisfaction – but she could not but feel the smarting injustice of it all. Why should the Miss Woodhouse’s be rewarded for their cruelty, when the Miss Fairfax’s – dutiful and well-intended – were forever being punished?

The following person says thank you to Alexa Adams for this post.:

Leenie Brown
November 23, 2016
3:57 PM
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Yes, I agree with Julie R. Jane is upset with Emma because Frank has been flirting with her and praising her while giving hints at Jane’s inconstancy. He really is awful in these chapters.

I must say that as far as Emma’s character development goes, this section of the book is my favorite part. I love how Emma sinks so low, rejected by Jane Fairfax, Mr. Knightley, and the Eltons. I don’t know if there’s such a thing as a redemption plot, but Emma certainly reminds me of Scrooge in A Christmas Carol during these chapters. She is coming face to face with her imperfections, and she’s forced to change. I love how she tries to help Jane. I know other readers haven’t felt too sorry for her up until this point, but you have to start to feel something for her by now.

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Leenie Brown
November 23, 2016
6:32 PM
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Oh, I like that little scene, Alexa! 🙂 I had wanted to write one, but life… 🙂  Maybe I will get to it yet. 

Julie — I hadn’t thought about him being late and her being upset by that, but that is an interesting idea now to tuck away.  Eventually, I would not mind doing some short stories on books other than P&P.  I don’t feel “qualified” to do so quite yet since I insist on being comfortably familiar with the original story and characters.  This read along (which forced me to read this book haha…Emma is not a favourite, nor is Mr. Bossy-pants Knightley 😉 ) has really helped me reacquaint myself with the story and find some areas that interest me.  

Rebecca — Yeah, I do feel just a bit for Emma in this part.  She really has sunk low (deservedly so).  And Frank is a twit. 😀