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|social obligations / responsibilities
Written by Nikki N
(2/19/2011 1:49 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, I'm sorry, ..., penned by gianni
exactly so -- Mr K wishes Emma to accept the responsibilities as well as the privilieges of being the leading lady in Highbury. He was not being irrational or wishing to control her mind and emotions -- no doubt he personally would have preferred Jane to be Emma's friend and was pleased when he thoguht the two were being friendly, and naturally disappointed in finding it was not really so -- but he knew he could not force her. It would also have been easier for Emma to carry out her social obligations to wardsJane and the Bateses if she really liked Jane -- and Mr K might be concerned that Emma's sarcastic remark about Jane meant that she actually disliked Jane and would neglect her obligations in the future after that one evening at Hartfield.
No doubt that in that era there were also indolent (e.g. Lady Bertram in MP) or mean-spirited leading ladies who enjoyed their privileges but do not carry out their responsibilities in their respective neighbourhoods or arrogant ladies who do so in a wrong way (e.g. Lady Cat in P&P) -- but Mr K knows that Emma is capable of doing very well if she would rise out of her self-centredness and isolation.
Emma is already doing very well with the poor cottagers to whom she can give direct charity. It is with the less fortunate who are nearer to her in rank i.e. Jane and Miss Bates that Emma has problems with, and also with the lower class who do not need her help e.g. the Martins.
There is also her attitude to the prosperous Coles with their "low origins" in trade -- she had thought that she would have to repress their "presumption" by refusing their dinner invitation -- but when she found that everybody else of her circle had been invited except herself, and had accepted, she found that she would like to go after all, and was quite glad to receive their delayed invitation.
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