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|Divert me against my Conscience
Written by Robbin
(2/15/2011 11:30 a.m.)
In this weeks chapters Emma seems to have a poisoned tongue for dear Miss Bates. She shows a great lack of respect and kindness for her father’s old friend who is so obliging to them both. After learning Frank Churchill intends to visit Miss Fairfax, Emma speaks ungenerously of Miss Bates:
“You will see her to advantage; see her and hear her -- no, I am afraid you will not hear her at all, for she has an aunt who never holds her tongue” (23).
How can Emma think pointing out Miss Bates’ fault to a stranger is in anyway proper? Fortunately it seems Mr. Woodhouse does not hear Emma disparaging his friend and advises Frank that Miss Fairfax’s aunt and grandmamma are “very worthy people; I have known them all my life” (23). At the Cole’s party Emma mimics Miss Bates to illustrate the horrors Mr. Knightley would have to face daily if he married Miss Fairfax:
"If it would be good to her, I am sure it would be evil to himself; a very shameful and degrading connection. How would he bear to have Miss Bates belonging to him? To have her haunting the Abbey, and thanking him all day long for his great kindness in marrying Jane? 'So very kind and obliging! But he always had been such a very kind neighbour!' And then fly off, through half a sentence, to her mother's old petticoat. 'Not that it was such a very old petticoat either -- for still it would last a great while -- and, indeed, she must thankfully say that their petticoats were all very strong." (26)
Emma is amusing but I agree with Mrs. Weston “For shame… Do not mimic her. You divert me against my conscience” (26). Emma told Harriet a poor old maid must be disagreeable and is “the proper sport of boys and girls” (10) but the only person I have seen make sport of Miss Bates is our fair Miss Woodhouse. Mrs. Weston told Emma that Mr. Knightley would not be much disturbed by Miss Bates. His conversation with her in Ch. 28 bears it out. I like his straight forward manner and how he asks if he can do anything for her:
"So obliged to you! so very much obliged to you for the carriage," resumed Miss Bates.
What satisfaction does Emma get from disparaging Miss Bates? It just seems mean spirited. Miss Bates is a woman who can do no harm to Emma and I can’t see that her (granted) exasperating manner excuses Emma’s making sport of the lady. Miss Bates is older, she is her father’s good friend, her situation is sad and yet she is always kind and obliging to others including Emma—these are all reasons to respect the lady and if Emma cannot bring herself to do that at the least she ought to speak of her to others with respect. Emma considers herself the grand dame of manners and propriety in the neighborhood but in this week’s chapters she is showing herself to be deficient in both. Thanks for reading! (:D)
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