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Written by BarbaraB
(3/6/2011 4:48 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Miss Bates!!! Miss Bates!!! Miss Bates!!!! :-), penned by Reeba
Emma knows this too: "She had a hint from Mr. Knightley, some from her own heart.
]He should know that Mrs and Miss Bates are invited regularly to Hartfield and they are always entertained with a table well laid out.
Emma is not thinking of the Bateses when she invites them over, but her father. The food is secondary. She is not going, "Poor Miss and Mrs. Bates could use a good meal so I'll have them over.” It is for her father’s comfort thereby her own---it allows her to use them as babysitters so that she can go places as well as giving her respite when she doesn’t go out (which is understandable). However, if not for needing them to keep her father happy, they would not receive all these invitations in my opinion: Emma does not like them and would no more choose to be around them in her home as she does in theirs.
]Mr Knightley is more concerned with the loss of 'level' here than in poverty itself IMO.
If I’m correct, it was generally considered woman’s work to administer to the poor on the level that we see Emma doing it. Now that Mr. Elton has a Mrs. Elton, she will most likely take over or at least help in this area. Each local parish was also responsible for duties to the poor and as magistrate, I’m sure that Mr. Knightley is attending to whatever his duties to the poor might be. We know he is a very responsible man and I don’t see him shirking his duties in this area or any other.
]I can understand Emma's attitude, having had her fill of Jane, Jane, Jane from Miss Bates, because I've started feeling the same about Miss Bates from Mr Knightley.
Sure, sitting around with Miss Bates could be wearing. Any normal person would find it so if they did it on a regular basis. If Emma did visit Miss Bates on regular basis and had a day here and there where she felt she wasn’t up to it, I wouldn’t blame her. But look at like this:
The poor that Emma administers to, if the worst they had to deal with was Miss Bates, Miss Bates, Miss Bates/Jane, Jane, Jane, they would gladly exchange their suffering and wretched lives for the life of ease that Emma has. Emma should look at them and think: “Suffering through the jabbering of Miss Bates is nothing, nothing, Nothing in comparison to this suffering. Miss Bates may herself be close to the suffering poor some day. Is this what it will take for Emma to show compassion for her? Emma has everything and should have little of which to complain; Miss Bates has very little, with less looming on the horizon and never complains---she considers herself blessed. I look at this from the text: “loved everybody...universal good-will and contented temper which worked such wonders (everyone’s good will)...contented and grateful spirit....” I don’t know if JA intended it this way but it makes me feel that Miss Bates has a rock-solid spirituality that is immovable no matter what life throws at her. When friends are making their way up the dark passage to her little parlor, I can’t help but think of the Upper Room. Miss Bates is a special person; I have nothing but admiration for her and what is a quarter-hour visit once or twice a week out of Emma’s silver-spooned life?
Maybe it’s just me, but I feel personally that regardless of our religious beliefs or no-religious beliefs, as we choose, we have to always consider those of Jane Austen and those of her characters. Austen, as a daughter of a clergyman, I believe considered herself a good Christian and I feel her Christian values run as an undercurrent through most, if not all, her work. It may not be as obvious as in Mansfield Park but it is there very quietly in my opinion. Every position in life comes with responsibilities. In the position of parent, for instance, no good parent ignores the part they don’t like about parenting and attends only to the part they enjoy. Imagine, because you hate the emergency room: “Suzy will just have to go without those stitches because I don’t do emergency rooms.” It’s not merely a Miss Bates that Mr. Knightley is concerned with (though of course, he is concerned about her); it doesn’t matter if it‘s Miss Purple Plaid or Miss Yellow Polka-dot, the point is, he wants Emma to develop a mature moral conscience and attend wholly to her Christian and social duties and not just pick and choose what appeals to her.
Emma's redemption is coming as we see from this week's reading but at this point in the story she has not gotten there. :)
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