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2016 Group Reads - Archives > Emma - Vol 2, Ch XI - Vol 3, Ch II

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message 1: by Rose (last edited Jun 05, 2016 04:30PM) (new)

Rose Rocha dos Santos (roserocha) | 42 comments Hi, everyone!

This week's reading is about: Vol 2, Chapter XI through Vol 3, Chapter II
Or, if you're using another version of the book: Chapters 29-38.

In Chapter 38, we read:

"Emma had no opportunity of speaking to Mr. Knightley till after supper; but, when they were all in the ball-room again, her eyes invited him irresistibly to come to her and be thanked. He was warm in his reprobation of Mr. Elton's conduct; it had been unpardonable rudeness; and Mrs. Elton's looks also received the due share of censure.

'They aimed at wounding more than Harriet,' said he. 'Emma, why is it that they are your enemies?'

He looked with smiling penetration; and, on receiving no answer, added, 'She ought not to be angry with you, I suspect, whatever he may be. To that surmise, you say nothing, of course; but confess, Emma, that you did want him to marry Harriet.'

'I did,' replied Emma, 'and they cannot forgive me.'

He shook his head; but there was a smile of indulgence with it, and he only said,

'I shall not scold you. I leave you to your own reflections.'

'Can you trust me with such flatterers? Does my vain spirit ever tell me I am wrong?'

'Not your vain spirit, but your serious spirit. If one leads you wrong, I am sure the other tells you of it.'

'I do own myself to have been completely mistaken in Mr. Elton. There is a littleness about him which you discovered, and which I did not: and I was fully convinced of his being in love with Harriet. It was through a series of strange blunders!'

'And, in return for your acknowledging so much, I will do you the justice to say, that you would have chosen for him better than he has chosen for himself. Harriet Smith has some first-rate qualities, which Mrs. Elton is totally without. An unpretending, single-minded, artless girl -- infinitely to be preferred by any man of sense and taste to such a woman as Mrs. Elton. I found Harriet more conversable than I expected.'

Emma was extremely gratified. They were interrupted by the bustle of Mr. Weston calling on every body to begin dancing again."


Emma already seems different. More mature, able to see her mistakes and admit them. Can we also begin to see differences between Emma and the other heroines from Austen's books?


message 2: by Brit (new)

Brit | 80 comments Emma has taken Harriet Smith under her wings. We have discussed this earlier and seen it has been a mixed blessing for Harriet.

We have a parallel story with Mrs. Elton and Jane Fairfax. Mrs. Elton is taking Jane under her wings and she is vocal about her plans for Jane:

“However, my resolution is taken as to noticing Jane Fairfax.—I shall certainly have her very often at my house, shall introduce her wherever I can, shall have musical parties to draw out her talents, and shall be constantly on the watch for an eligible situation.”

This sounds a lot like what Emma had in mind for Harriet:

"She would notice her; she would improve her; she would detach her from her bad acquaintance, and introduce her into good society; she would form her opinions and her manners.”

Harriet spends a great deal of time with Emma and likewise, Jane Fairfax spends a great deal of time with Mrs. Elton. This is very surprising to Emma, but not necessarily to the others.

We have been given a negative impression of Mrs. Elton. Emma does not like her and the immediate reaction (at least mine) to her seems to be dislike, but are we too quick in judging her. I did not like Emma initially, but once you get to know her more intimately, you see a caring person. Is that the case with Mrs. Elton also?


message 3: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 562 comments The parallel you draw, Brit (Mrs. Elton is to Jane Fairfax as Emma is to Harriet), is a very interesting one! You appear to be taking the optimistic view of Mrs. E (bless you for it—that wouldn’t have occurred to me), but I have a more pessimistic reading. Maybe Mrs. Elton is there to show Emma the dark side of what she’s doing with Harriet—that taking up a person as your cause can be more cruel than kind. This does seem to be a novel of symmetries to me, which might influence my thinking on Mrs. E.


message 4: by Rose (new)

Rose Rocha dos Santos (roserocha) | 42 comments Abigail wrote: "The parallel you draw, Brit (Mrs. Elton is to Jane Fairfax as Emma is to Harriet), is a very interesting one! You appear to be taking the optimistic view of Mrs. E (bless you for it—that wouldn’t h..."

I loved how you two explained both sides of the situation. I tend to see the negative side of Mrs. Elton as well. We saw that Emma made some mistakes out of ingenuity. It doesn't seem to be the case with Mrs. Elton. Let's see what happens throughout the book! :)


message 5: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2769 comments Mod
The more I see of Frank Churchill, the less I like him. He plans a dance for everyone, Emma suggests they have it sooner rather than later, but Frank delays. Then he receives word that he has to leave before the dance! And he takes leave of Emma and Miss Bates and Jane Fairfax. He spends more time at Jane's than Emma's. Emma imagines she is in love with him, until she starts thinking things over.
From chapter XIII:
I do suspect that he is not really necessary to my happiness.....I am quite enough in love. I should be sorry to be more.

I feel that Frank Churchill is using Emma. He pays attention to her so that others will not suspect his feelings for Jane. I do not know how Jane feels about him.


message 6: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2769 comments Mod
Here is a quote from Mr. Knightly in chapter XV: he is talking to Emma, who has given up matchmaking, and says-

Jane Fairfax is a very charming young woman-but not even Jane Fairfax is perfect. She has a fault. She has not th open temper which a man would wish for in a wife.

As for Mrs. Elton, what a talker- and no substance.


message 7: by Brit (new)

Brit | 80 comments Rose and Abigail, I am not necessarily optimistic that Mrs. Elton will redeem herself. However, I have never truly seen both the good and the bad side of Emma in earlier readings of the book. We need to give Mrs. Elton the benefit of the doubt. She will very likely need to be put in her place (just like Emma has been) for that to happen.

There is an episode of Mrs. Elton, very well meaning, is insisting on finding a good place or position for Jane. That is so similar to Emma intending to find a good match for Harriet.

Aside from both Harriet and Jane being pretty, these two are very dissimilar. Jane can hold her own as seen in the episode mentioned above. Another example is when Jane insists on fetching her own mail. No snooping into her private affairs tolerated!


message 8: by Brit (new)

Brit | 80 comments Rosemarie wrote: "The more I see of Frank Churchill, the less I like him. He plans a dance for everyone, Emma suggests they have it sooner rather than later, but Frank delays. Then he receives word that he has to le..."

It is clear the Frank Churchill is putting on a facade so that the entire truth about him is not revealed to the society in Highbury. I think the same can be said about Jane Fairfax, but to her defense she goes about it in a more appropriate and acceptable manner. She either withholds information or is shy. Regardless of her reasons, the Highbury circle does not get to know her intimate affairs.

Frank Churchill, on the other hand, makes up stories and insinuations in order to mislead his new friends and acquaintances in Highbury. No wonder Mr. Knightley does not like him!

I have to give Frank Churchill credit for his behavior towards Miss Bates and his aunt Mrs. Churchill. We know Miss Bates can test your patience, but I suspect so can Mrs. Churchill. However, Frank Churchill seem to be generous to them both. While admitting they can be tiresome, he does not ridicule them.


message 9: by Janice (JG) (new)

Janice (JG) Abigail wrote: "The parallel you draw, Brit (Mrs. Elton is to Jane Fairfax as Emma is to Harriet), is a very interesting one! You appear to be taking the optimistic view of Mrs. E (bless you for it—that wouldn’t have occurred to me), but I have a more pessimistic reading. Maybe Mrs. Elton is there to show Emma the dark side of what she’s doing with Harriet—that taking up a person as your cause can be more cruel than kind. This does seem to be a novel of symmetries to me, which might influence my thinking on Mrs. E..."

I couldn't help but start comparing Mrs. Elton's behavior with Jane and Emma's earlier behavior with Harriet. The big difference is that Jane is insistent that she will not welcome Mrs. E's help, whereas Harriet was putty in Emma's hands.

Frankly, Mrs. E's babbling had me skimming pages, and I wondered if Austen made sure that even the reader wanted to escape her as badly as everyone else did. I've decided Emma is a saint and a scholar compared to Mrs. Elton.


message 10: by Brit (new)

Brit | 80 comments Janice(JG) wrote: "Frankly, Mrs. E's babbling had me skimming pages, and I wondered if Austen made sure that even the reader wanted to escape her as badly as everyone else did. I've decided Emma is a saint and a scholar compared to Mrs. Elton..."

Emma is no saint, but I hear you with regards to Mrs. Elton and her babbling. I get really sick of hearing about Maple Grove and Mr. Suckling.


message 11: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 2632 comments Brit wrote: "Janice(JG) wrote: "I get really sick of hearing about Maple Grove and Mr. Suckling. ..."

Does this novel seem as tightly written as some of Ms. Austen's others?


message 12: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2769 comments Mod
I was just thinking that this novel is more episodic--Harriet and Mr. Elton--Jane Fairfax and Frank Churchill-- now the return of the Eltons.
Even though this novel is callled Emma, her life has really not changed very much so far. She has stopped matchmaking, which is a good thing, but that is about it.


message 13: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2769 comments Mod
I have just finished Chapter XVI and really notice the change in Emma. She has gained more self-control, and shows this by not asking Jane if there is any news from Ireland. I also like the way she sympathizes with the suffering Jane feels that is caused by that Mrs. Elton. Jane is receiving letters from some one and enjoys fetching the mail-rain or shine.


message 14: by Frances, Moderator (new)

Frances (francesab) | 1775 comments Mod
I think the parallel between Mrs Elton's babbling and that of Miss Bates is very striking! They both bore us to tears. I loved the conversation between Mrs. Elton and Mr. Weston at the beginning of the ball-they both clearly wanted to talk only of Maple Grove and of Frank Churchill respectively, and kept interrupting each others monologues to resume their own thread-brilliant commentary on so much of what passes for conversation in any era!

I am still struck by the fact that Emma and Jane Fairfax never seem to socialize with each other-that Emma continues to prefer the socially and intellectually inferior Harriet Smith to Jane. Jane and Emma should almost have been forced to be friends simply on the basis of their being the only 2 young single women in the immediate vicinity. Wouldn't this have been an obvious slighting of Jane, which everyone in their community would have noticed? I would have thought Mrs Weston would encourage the friendship, even by suggesting they call on Jane together or invite her out for a walk, particularly after the discussion on how Jane has had no alternative but to accept Mrs Elton's clearly overly familiar and presumptuous patronage. I'm even surprised that Frank has never suggested the three of them go for a walk together-while he could not walk about with just one for any length of time without raising suspicions, he could certainly go with the 2 of them together.

Finally, Bravo to Mr Knightly! He has established himself as the true gentleman-hero of the book by his kindness, his discernment of the true character of the other guests at the ball, his elegant and handsome figure and his excellent dancing (not necessarily in that order!). I do like that ultimately it is Emma that asks him to dance, and that he so very graciously accepts, and agrees that they are not brother and sister.


message 15: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 2632 comments Frances wrote: "Finally, Bravo to Mr Knightly! He has established himself as the true gentleman-hero..."

At the moment, Mr. Knightly is too much the perfect romantic hero of a Jane Austen novel for my taste for him as a book character. I am curious if he will survive that prejudice on my part! [g]


message 16: by Brit (new)

Brit | 80 comments Frances wrote: "I'm even surprised that Frank has never suggested the three of them go for a walk together-while he could not walk about with just one for any length of time without raising suspicions, he could certainly go with the 2 of them together...."

Frank Churchill seems to associate with Jane at her grandmother's or in larger groups. I found it interesting that he suggested getting Miss Bates's opinion for the appropriateness of the venue for the Weston ball. I am sure it was to get Jane there, but he is quite sly in the way he goes about doing it.


message 17: by indeedox (new)

indeedox | 0 comments @Frances: I can totally understand from my own life that Emma doesn't want to have a friendship with Jane Fairfax. Friends of my parents had friends with a daughter my age and I always had to listen to her praise. And as a teenager nobody bored me worse than another teenager which was perfect in adults' eyes...


message 18: by Frances, Moderator (new)

Frances (francesab) | 1775 comments Mod
Barlanda wrote: "@Frances: I can totally understand from my own life that Emma doesn't want to have a friendship with Jane Fairfax. Friends of my parents had friends with a daughter my age and I always had to liste..."

Yes, I can see that Emma has never taken to Jane (probably for the same reasons you didn't like your parents friends' daughter), however in their society there is an expectation that certain people will socialize (for example Emma is unable to avoid spending time with the Eltons, much as she dislikes them, as she doesn't want to be seen to dislike them). It just seems to me that, for Jane and Emma not to spend some time together, even if they secretly dislike each other (and I've never had the sense of active dislike, at least not on Emma's part) would be remarkable in their community.


message 19: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2769 comments Mod
We never really do get a sense of Jane's feelings for on the whole she has a very placid personality. I am sure she must get tired of everyone being so concerned about her health--avoiding draughts, not getting a chill, etc.-- except one person, perhaps. I can just picture her frustation at being Mrs. Elton's pet project--she has to get a situation soon with a "suitable" family. Jane does not want to secure a position until after the summer-- does she have other plans?
Emma is warming up towards Jane, thanks in part to the odious Mrs. Elton. Emma is also starting to become more discerning and aware of other people and less liable to act in a hurry.


message 20: by Brit (new)

Brit | 80 comments Rosemarie wrote: "We never really do get a sense of Jane's feelings for on the whole she has a very placid personality. I am sure she must get tired of everyone being so concerned about her health--avoiding draughts..."

I agree, Jane is very reserved so we do not get to see what goes on inside. The veil is lifted on a couple of occasions.

In a conversation with John Knightley, he says he hopes she will someday have a family to love and cherish (different wording of course):

“As an old friend, you will allow me to hope, Miss Fairfax, that ten years hence you may have as many concentrated objects as I have."
It was kindly said, and very far from giving offence.

A pleasant "thank you" seemed meant to laugh it off, but a blush, a quivering lip, a tear in the eye, shewed that it was felt beyond a laugh.”

Another occasion is when Jane shows excitement over the upcoming ball:

“Oh! Miss Woodhouse, I hope nothing may happen to prevent the ball. What a disappointment it would be! I do look forward to it, I own, with very great pleasure.”


message 21: by Robin P, Moderator (last edited Jun 08, 2016 03:57PM) (new)

Robin P | 2029 comments Mod
That's the most excitement we have seen from Jane (except maybe for her insistence on going to the post office). At least one author has undertaken to rewrite this book from Jane's point of view.


message 22: by Veronique (last edited Jun 09, 2016 05:00AM) (new)

Veronique Rosemarie wrote: "I was just thinking that this novel is more episodic--Harriet and Mr. Elton--Jane Fairfax and Frank Churchill-- now the return of the Eltons. Even though this novel is callled Emma, her life has re..."

I think it's because everything is seen through Emma's eyes and thus tinted from her perceptions and judgments... And I guess she has more to learn.

The dialogues made me smile often, each character meaning completely different things. For instance, Emma and Harriet in chapter XIV (p212 Oxford World Classic) - Emma being ironic, against Mr & Mrs Elton, while Harriet is taking everything 'straight' :O)

Been loving all the comments :O)


message 23: by Veronique (new)

Veronique Brit wrote: "Janice(JG) wrote: "Frankly, Mrs. E's babbling had me skimming pages, and I wondered if Austen made sure that even the reader wanted to escape her as badly as everyone else did. I've decided Emma is..."

Isn't it great! We have the babbling of Mrs E and the ones of Miss Bates, and they are quite different. I think I should pay more attention to what Miss Bates is actually saying...


message 24: by Brit (new)

Brit | 80 comments Question on time off:
When Mr. Elton was rejected by Emma, he takes off for Bath and stays there for four weeks. He again returns to to Bath to get his bride. Who takes care of his clerical duties? Could vicars take time off at the drop of a hat. I do not see any mention of there being a curate in the parish.

In Pride and Predjudice we see Mr. Collins taking time away from his parish also. I assume the first visit was short, but later he removed himself and Charlotte for some time to let Kathrine de Bourgh cool off.


message 25: by Janice (JG) (new)

Janice (JG) Veronique wrote: "Brit wrote: "Janice(JG) wrote: "Frankly, Mrs. E's babbling had me skimming pages, and I wondered if Austen made sure that even the reader wanted to escape her as badly as everyone else did. I've de...

Isn't it great! We have the babbling of Mrs E and the ones of Miss Bates, and they are quite different. I think I should pay more attention to what Miss Bates is actually saying..."


Yes! I was thinking exactly the same thing. She just says whatever's on the top of her brain and she's got no filter for what might or might not be appropriate, so all kinds of interesting tidbits drop into her spew of words.


message 26: by Amy (new)

Amy Walterscheid Brit, I assume there must be a curate. These characters seem to take positions in the church just for the income and social status while underlings do the real work.


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