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|Well, thats how it looked from Emma's point of view
Written by Tarn
(3/19/2011 7:54 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, No, penned by Frances G
The writing of chapter 43 deliberately obscures the stated fact, that when Emma and Frank are accompanied only by Harriet, Frank has nothing to say to Emma, and in fact "She had never seen Frank Churchill so silent and stupid. He said nothing worth hearing -- looked without seeing -- admired without intelligence -- listened without knowing what she said."(43)
What is written as a merry tete-a-tete between Frank and Emma, is actually a forlorn attempt to engage the whole group in conversation. Mr Weston, Miss Bates and Emma are happy enough to promote Frank's scheme, but he unintentionally insults Mrs Elton by giving Emma precedence, and Mr Knightley hates him and sees only an evil influence not to be encouraged, and Emma insults Miss Bates, and Jane Fairfax has already said what she had to say yesterday and has not the pliant temper to be worked on by tricks, and until she can speak openly, is resolved to be silent.
Unfortunately he goes on after these passionate, tender, softening words to add: "I say nothing of which I am ashamed,I saw you first in February. Let every body on the Hill hear me if they can. Let my accents swell to Mickleham on one side, and Dorking on the other. I saw you first in February."(43)
Such a reminder of his discretion and the safety of their secret, at such a time, could only irritate Jane and remind her of what she is obliged to endure for the sake of secrecy. And when she finally, reluctantly, is forced to respond (if only to stop this nonsense) and sternly warns him "it can be only weak, irresolute characters, (whose happiness must be always at the mercy of chance,) who will suffer an unfortunate acquaintance to be an inconvenience, an oppression for ever."
His reminding her of his hopes the day before to tell his father as soon as he had arranged to ship his aunt to the doctors on continent, where she could not be distressed by any unseasonable revelations, is just talk, his attempt to work on her fears for him in the face of the tyranny of distance over the next couple of years, just infuriating to a woman who has been stuck in Highbury listening to such rubbish all year, to no effect. His claims of being totally enslaved by her excellent judgment, are infuriating when they are camouflaged by this false show of wit and impudence. It would take a woman with a perfect temper, and no judgment at all, to bear him.
Of course, Frank makes it very clear in his letter to his father that "it was a quarrel blameless on her side, abominable on mine"(50), that he was the angry one, and she the injured ... but what was he to say? The truth? That his aunt was very like Mr Woodhouse, and with her poor health, low spirits and dependence on her darling child; that reconciling her to the knowledge would be a formidable and time-consuming task; that Frank must find a way of gradually talking her around to the idea of his getting married, making her happy with it, over the next couple of years. That until he could find some way of ensuring his father's discretion, he must therefore keep the engagement a secret even from his father, because Mr Weston has a gob on him, and even his affection for his son could not surmount his desire to go around London cheering (Homer Simpson voice) "In your FACE, Mrs Churchill" at so fair an opportunity.
And how could he decently explain his lady's heart?
Of course Frank generously stood in as the villain of the piece, and couldn't do enough to placate his beautiful bride.
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