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|I'm ambivalent here, ...
Written by gianni
(3/8/2011 6:16 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Miss Bates has forgiven Emma, penned by Ra
... as to whether we can call it forgiveness. Miss Bates has always come across to me as one who is infinitely, compulsively generous; who regards everything and everyone around her as good and generous; who looks upon evil and meanness as unfortunate accidents and misunderstandings.
In the very beginning, the narrator tells us, "Miss Bates stood in the very worst predicament in the world ..., and her middle of life was devoted to the care of a failing mother, and the endeavour to make a small income go as far as possible. And yet she was a happy woman, and a woman whom no one named without good-will. It was her own universal good-will and contented temper which worked such wonders. She loved every body, was interested in every body's happiness, quick-sighted to every body's merits; thought herself a most fortunate creature, and surrounded with blessings in such an excellent mother and so many good neighbours and friends, and a home that wanted for nothing. The simplicity and cheerfulness of her nature, .... (ch. 3)"
Consider her reaction when Emma sends a pork hindquarter -- even though Mr. knightley and Emma's own conscience have reprimanded her for uncharitable thoughts and actions toward the Bateses, Miss Bates gushes, "Such a beautiful hind-quarter of pork! You are too bountiful! (ch. 21)"
And, of course, what is Miss Bates's reaction to Emma's disgusting behavior on Box Hill? We're witness to the first glimmer of it, but the full impact of Miss Bates's generosity has to come from Mr. Knightley: "...I wish you could have heard how she talked of it -- with what candour and generosity. I wish you could have heard her honouring your forbearance, in being able to pay her such attentions, as she was for ever receiving from yourself and your father, when her society must be so irksome."
It seems to me that any forgiveness that might be inferred would have to be in her apparent inability to see a fault in someone else, thus a sort of automatic forgiveness born of inability to feel wronged.
In a way that struck me unexpectedly forcibly, another (sorry, I don't remember who or when) has commented that Miss Bates seems to exemplify the Christian ideal of character. I really like that characterization of Miss Bates.
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