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|My favorite part of the novel
Written by Glenn
(3/6/2011 1:54 p.m.)
Since this is March 6, I can talk about chapters 44-49- such dramatic developments! Emma begins her redemption by visiting Miss Bates. Chapter 44: The wretchedness of a scheme to Box Hill was in Emma's thoughts all the evening. ... She had been often remiss, her conscience told her so; remiss, perhaps, more in thought than fact; scornful, ungracious. But it should be so no more. In the warmth of true contrition, she would call upon her the very next morning, and it should be the beginning, on her side, of a regular, equal, kindly intercourse. I'm still a bit peeved that she pities Jane Fairfax, but that will change in Chapter 46. Jane is to take up a situation as governess for Mrs. Smallridge's three little girls -- delightful children. Miss Bates thinks they are delightful, but Emma remembers what she was like at that age:
"Ah! madam," cried Emma, "if other children are at all like what I remember to have been myself, I should think five times the amount of what I have ever yet heard named as a salary on such occasions, dearly earned."
Poor Miss Taylor!
Now Emma was obliged to think of the piano forte and the remembrance of all her former fanciful and unfair conjectures was so little pleasing, that she soon allowed herself to believe her visit had been long enough... Is Emma giving herself an excuse to leave? At least she was contrite about her Jane/Mr. Dixon conjecture.
Chapter 45: Mr. Woodhouse- "Dear Emma has been to call on Mrs. and Miss Bates, Mr. Knightley, as I told you before. She is always so attentive to them!" Emma's colour was heightened by this unjust praise; and with a smile, and shake of the head, which spoke much, she looked at Mr. Knightley. It seemed as if there were an instantaneous impression in her favour, as if his eyes received the truth from her's, and all that had passed of good in her feelings were at once caught and honoured. I think Mr. Knightley only wanted to help Emma to be more polite and accepting of other peoples' quirks.
Mrs. Churchill died! It was a more pressing concern to show attention to Jane Fairfax, whose prospects were closing, while Harriet's opened... Does Emma think that Harriet will marry Frank Churchill? Delusional!
Chapter 46: Frank Churchill "...has been here this very morning, on a most extraordinary errand. It is impossible to express our surprise. He came to speak to his father on a subject, -- to announce an attachment -- "
She stopped to breathe. Emma thought first of herself, and then of Harriet.
"More than an attachment, indeed," resumed Mrs. Weston; "an engagement -- a positive engagement. What will you say, Emma -- what will anybody say, when it is known that Frank Churchill and Miss Fairfax are engaged; -- nay, that they have been long engaged!"
Emma even jumped with surprise; and, horror-struck, exclaimed,
"Jane Fairfax! Good God! You are not serious? You do not mean it?"
Emma revealed that she was never really in love with Frank, although she concealed her plans for Harriet to marry him. However, she thinks Frank is a villain.
"I have escaped; and that I should escape, may be a matter of grateful wonder to you and myself. But this does not acquit him, Mrs. Weston; and I must say, that I think him greatly to blame. What right had he to come among us with affection and faith engaged, and with manners so very disengaged? What right had he to endeavour to please, as he certainly did -- to distinguish any one young woman with persevering attention, as he certainly did -- while he really belonged to another? How could he tell what mischief he might be doing? How could he tell that he might not be making me in love with him? Very wrong, very wrong indeed."
Well, Frank was an idiot for playing games, not only because he misled others in Highbury, but especially because he caused Jane grief. He was just a foolish young man, not a villain. What Emma doesn't realize is that her behavior started him on this course. If she hadn't been prying into Jane's life and imagining a romantic attachment between Jane and Mr. Dixon because of the piano forte, Frank would never have tried to outwit her.
Chapter 47: "Harriet, poor Harriet!" Yes, poor Harriet, but not because she was in love with Frank Churchill. Emma had inadvertently led Harriet to believe that she might marry Mr. Knightley! Mr. Knightley performed a much greater service by dancing with her at the ball after Mr. Elton insulted her that Frank performed by rescuing her from the gypsies.
Even though Harriet is not as intelligent as Emma, she is a better judge of men. Emma chose Mr. Elton and Frank Churchill as Harriet's potential suitors but Harriet chose Robert Martin and George Knightley.
It is in this chapter that Emma finally understands herself. With insufferable vanity had she believed herself in the secret of everybody's feelings; with unpardonable arrogance proposed to arrange everybody's destiny. She was proved to have been universally mistaken; and she had not quite done nothing -- for she had done mischief. She had brought evil on Harriet, on herself, and she too much feared, on Mr. Knightley. Well, she was wrong about bringing evil on herself and Mr. Knightly, as Chapter 46 would prove. Emma could not redeem herself until she understood herself.
Chapter 48: Emma loves Mr. Knightley but Nothing should separate her from her father. She would not marry, even if she were asked by Mr. Knightley. Emma admits that she made Jane unhappy: ...oh! Mrs. Weston, if there were an account drawn up of the evil and the good I have done Miss Fairfax!
Chapter 49: Mr. Knightley proposes! The "fortunate man" speech to "I cannot make speeches, Emma," is one of my favorite parts of the novel. Yes, Mr. Knightley, you can make speeches. The last paragraph is very funny.
He had found her agitated and low. Frank Churchill was a villain. He heard her declare that she had never loved him. Frank Churchill's character was not desperate. She was his own Emma, by hand and word, when they returned into the house; and if he could have thought of Frank Churchill then, he might have deemed him a very good sort of fellow.
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