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Written by Robbin
(2/24/2011 12:02 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Difference between thoughts and actions, penned by Felicity
I think Emma enjoys being gracious to those she cares about and I think to the truly poor and destitute, the cottagers in Ch. 10 for example but I don’t see that folks like the poor lower gentry Bates, the upwardly mobile family of a half-gentleman such as Mr. Cole and a gentleman farmer like Mr. Martin and his family are guaranteed so much graciousness.
Of the Coles Emma thought “The regular and best families Emma could hardly suppose they would presume to invite -- neither Donwell, nor Hartfield, nor Randalls” (25) but they did invite the Westons and Mr. Knightley to their party. Mrs. Weston said “I suppose they will not take the liberty with you” (25) suggesting the Coles knew an invitation from them would not be accepted which strangely enough is exactly Emma’s intention should they presume to send one: “Nothing should tempt her to go, if they did” (25). My point is if Emma was always gracious to the Coles then how is it they know she would not accept an invitation? Her behavior towards them must be different than that of the Westons and Mr. Knightley. I suggest Emma’s attitude is known to the Coles and ask if it was not revealed by her own behavior towards them then how do they know?
At the Coles’ party Emma snubs both Miss Bates and Miss Fairfax by never condescending to speak with them. I feel I am giving Emma a break by allowing that perhaps she greeted them when they arrived but there is no mention of it in the text. Emma decided she need not show any attention to Jane: “In so large a party it was not necessary that Emma should approach her [Jane Fairfax]” (26) and as far as I can tell she never does nor to the aunt. While Emma may not be breaking the letter of propriety law I feel it is ungracious not to give even a smidgeon of attention to Miss Bates as she is her father’s life-long friend who is nearly always willing to attend him on his own terms at Hartfield. Jane as an extension of her aunt deserves attention as well as for her situation. I mean really how out of her way is it to spend a few minutes talking with each?
They met Mr. Martin the very next day, as they were walking on the Donwell road. He was on foot, and after looking very respectfully at her, looked with most unfeigned satisfaction at her companion. Emma was not sorry to have such an opportunity of survey; and walking a few yards forward, while they talked together, soon made her quick eye sufficiently acquainted with Mr. Robert Martin. ...They remained but a few minutes together, as Miss Woodhouse must not be kept waiting; and Harriet then came running to her with a smiling face, and in a flutter of spirits, which Miss Woodhouse hoped very soon to compose. (4)
I don’t think Harriet introduced Mr. Martin to Emma. The meeting on Donwell Road lasted only a few minutes and Emma’s, Harriet’s and Mr. Martin’s actions are well laid out—see above quote from Ch. 4. I don’t see that there is any room to suspect an introduction happened off stage. Also IMO Harriet could not suggest she introduce Mr. Martin to Emma for three reasons. Harriet would be putting Emma on the spot which I think would be rather rude. Mr. Martin is a man and he is of lower rank and both circumstances give Emma the choice to acknowledge him or ignore him no questions asked. Walking away from the couple denotes the choice to ignore him. I agree with Reeba that it is not a snub but I think it is ungracious. It would have been a kindness and an honor to Harriet to acknowledge her friend and all the kindness he and his family have bestowed on Harriet deserves attention.
I agree Emma can be generous and benevolent but she has so many ungracious thoughts about people I don’t think it is strange that it sometimes seeps out in her behavior towards them. It seems Emma has treated the Coles in a less gracious manner than her friends because of their low origin. She chose to ignore the Bates at the Coles party and to ignore Mr. Martin on Dowell Road although in both instances they merited Emma condescension. When she has a choice Emma sometimes is not as gracious as she could be considering the merit of the individual. IMO Emma lets social inferiority interfere with acknowledging the merit of individuals which I think sometimes inhibits her ability to do the right thing.
Thanks for reading! (:D)
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