Welcome to The Writers’ Block by Austen Authors!
Jane Austen’s Reading Salon is the board where we freely showcase our writing: short stories, excerpts, deleted scenes, poetry, and other assorted samples, both Austenesque and beyond Austen’s world. This is a “read-only” board. Read to your heart’s content and check back periodically for new posts.A A A
December 27, 2014
We have reached the end of Emma. She has found love, but Austen is still tying up all the loose ends created by all the meddling. First and foremost is what to do with Harriet. Mr. Martin and Mr. Knightley solve that problem, but they’re not sure Emma will approve.
Time passed on. A few more to-morrows, and the party from London would be arriving. It was an alarming change; and Emma was thinking of it one morning, as what must bring a great deal to agitate and grieve her, when Mr. Knightley came in, and distressing thoughts were put by. After the first chat of pleasure he was silent; and then, in a graver tone, began with,
“I have something to tell you, Emma; some news.”
“Good or bad?” said she, quickly, looking up in his face.
“I do not know which it ought to be called.”
“Oh! good I am sure.–I see it in your countenance. You are trying not to smile.”
“I am afraid,” said he, composing his features, “I am very much afraid, my dear Emma, that you will not smile when you hear it.”
“Indeed! but why so?–I can hardly imagine that any thing which pleases or amuses you, should not please and amuse me too.”
“There is one subject,” he replied, “I hope but one, on which we do not think alike.” He paused a moment, again smiling, with his eyes fixed on her face. “Does nothing occur to you?–Do not you recollect?–Harriet Smith.”
Her cheeks flushed at the name, and she felt afraid of something, though she knew not what.
“Have you heard from her yourself this morning?” cried he. “You have, I believe, and know the whole.”
“No, I have not; I know nothing; pray tell me.”
“You are prepared for the worst, I see–and very bad it is. Harriet Smith marries Robert Martin.”
Emma gave a start, which did not seem like being prepared–and her eyes, in eager gaze, said, “No, this is impossible!” but her lips were closed.
“It is so, indeed,” continued Mr. Knightley; “I have it from Robert Martin himself. He left me not half an hour ago.”
She was still looking at him with the most speaking amazement.
“You like it, my Emma, as little as I feared.–I wish our opinions were the same. But in time they will. Time, you may be sure, will make one or the other of us think differently; and, in the meanwhile, we need not talk much on the subject.”
“You mistake me, you quite mistake me,” she replied, exerting herself. “It is not that such a circumstance would now make me unhappy, but I cannot believe it. It seems an impossibility!–You cannot mean to say, that Harriet Smith has accepted Robert Martin. You cannot mean that he has even proposed to her again–yet. You only mean, that he intends it.”
“I mean that he has done it,” answered Mr. Knightley, with smiling but determined decision, “and been accepted.”
“Good God!” she cried.–“Well!”–Then having recourse to her workbasket, in excuse for leaning down her face, and concealing all the exquisite feelings of delight and entertainment which she knew she must be expressing, she added, “Well, now tell me every thing; make this intelligible to me. How, where, when?–Let me know it all. I never was more surprized–but it does not make me unhappy, I assure you.–How–how has it been possible?”
Proving herself a changed woman, Emma is pleased with this news. After all of Harriet’s various crushes, she didn’t expect her to come back to loving Robert Martin, but now it seems the best resolution possible.
Some things about Emma haven’t changed, however, as we see when Emma learns about Harriet’s true parentage. She is still a typical high class snob in some ways.
The event, however, was most joyful; and every day was giving her fresh reason for thinking so.–Harriet’s parentage became known. She proved to be the daughter of a tradesman, rich enough to afford her the comfortable maintenance which had ever been hers, and decent enough to have always wished for concealment.–Such was the blood of gentility which Emma had formerly been so ready to vouch for!–It was likely to be as untainted, perhaps, as the blood of many a gentleman: but what a connexion had she been preparing for Mr. Knightley–or for the Churchills–or even for Mr. Elton!–The stain of illegitimacy, unbleached by nobility or wealth, would have been a stain indeed.
But just to prove that Emma isn’t the worst high class snob, Austen throws in this criticism of Emma’s wedding from Mrs. Elton:
The wedding was very much like other weddings, where the parties have no taste for finery or parade; and Mrs. Elton, from the particulars detailed by her husband, thought it all extremely shabby, and very inferior to her own.–“Very little white satin, very few lace veils; a most pitiful business!–Selina would stare when she heard of it.”–But, in spite of these deficiencies, the wishes, the hopes, the confidence, the predictions of the small band of true friends who witnessed the ceremony, were fully answered in the perfect happiness of the union.
Now for our discussion questions:
1) I admire Emma more for having a simple wedding. What do you think? Does it make you like her more?
2) I think Emma best fits in the Young Adult category because our heroine is quite immature and makes a lot of mistakes that would be made by a typical high schooler. In which genre would you place this book?
3) Do you think Emma is a feminist novel? Or is it quite the opposite? (Feminist literature is fiction or nonfiction which supports the feminist goals of defining, establishing and defending equal civil, political, economic and social rights for women.)
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