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Written by Line
(4/9/2008 11:11 p.m.)
The discussion about Emma's attitude towards the poor made me realize that there are at least 3 passages in "Emma" that sound to me as if they were JA speaking directly about her own life, with very little novelization. I know something about JA's life, so it's not exactly ESP at work, but here they are:
1) The description of Mrs. Goddard's school in ch.3: I can just imagine that this was JA's attitude towards her own (brief) schooling - gratitude for the kindness of the headmistress / teachers, combined with unapologetic disdain for the quality of the teaching there. On the other hand, I think the description of finishing schools which taught fancy "accomplishments" was JA's opinion, too!
2) Emma's attitude towards the poor in ch. 10. We know that JA took her own duties towards the local poor quite seriously, so I read this as un-ironic, wholehearted praise for Emma.
3) The third is Emma's description of a single woman with money vs. one without, in ch.10:
It is poverty only which makes celibacy contemptible to a generous public! A single woman, with a very narrow income, must be a ridiculous, disagreeable, old maid! the proper sport of boys and girls; but a single woman, of good fortune, is always respectable, and may be as sensible and pleasant as anybody else. And the distinction is not quite so much against the candour and common sense of the world as appears at first; for a very narrow income has a tendency to contract the mind, and sour the temper. Those who can barely live, and who live perforce in a very small, and generally very inferior, society, may well be illiberal and cross.
I hear JA's own voice so clearly in this passage, speaking wholeheartedly from personal observation and experience!
Of course, there are passages in her other novels which make me think it's JA speaking directly, but for some reason "Emma" seems to have more of them...
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