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|A waste of time…
Written by Robbin
(4/13/2008 6:05 a.m.)
Miss Bates is a hoot! She cannot have left much out of Jane’s letter and although I understand how her incessant talking and mundane information makes her disagreeable to Emma, I could still not help cringing at some of her attitudes about the Bates when they are almost too obliging to her.
That Emma wants to avoid associating with the Bates more frequent visitors such as Mrs. Cole is not surprising considering her attitude she can not admit knowing the wife of a farmer. It is a bit amusing to think of what position Harriet naturally inhabits in Highbury society due to her illegitimacy when seeing Emma so determined against Mrs. Cole. Poor Mrs. Cole cannot be imagined into a more genteel role. Another reason I dislike Emma’s attitude about the Bates is because she is more than happy to use them to make up a card-table for her father—per Chapter 3 they are always ready to oblige Mr. Woodhouse and are favored by him. I thought Emma’s attitude that the “women were a waste of time” was very harsh and I was particularly saddened at the thought Emma does not only neglect calling on them but she also neglects “contributing what she ought to the stock of their scanty comforts.” I felt pity for the Bates in their small apartment and was impressed they are happy and generous with what they have despite all they lack.
Emma not doing what she ought to enhance the scanty comforts of the Bates is a huge contrast to the compassion and kindness she gives the poor who can always count on her kindness and purse to relieve their distresses. Why not so much compassion for ladies she has known all her life and perhaps ought to be able to understand at least as well as the poor cottagers? Do Emma’s feelings about the Bates blind her to doing her duty towards them? I am glad she has some hints from her own heart as well as Mr. Knightley. This seems to be one of those situations where Emma is aware of her duty but neglects it in favor of less disagreeable activities—Emma is a little like Frank Churchill with regards to the Bates as he is with regards to the Westons. I don’t know however, if Frank has any regrets or consciousness that he is doing wrong as Emma does.
At this moment, an ingenious and animating suspicion entering Emma's brain with regard to Jane Fairfax, this charming Mr. Dixon, and the not going to Ireland, she said, with the insidious design of further discovery, (Chapter 19)
As to the visit being a waste of time, it does not seem it was because Emma gained at least one interesting piece of news—that Jane was not going to Ireland with her friends although invited and pressed to join them. Emma is suspicious of some sort of preference between Jane and her plain friend’s new husband with as little reason as she does for supposing Harriet to be the daughter of a gentleman of fortune. At least with Harriet, Emma’s speculations, although baseless, have nothing but good intentions and feelings behind them. What kind of feeling is behind a speculation which if true would not bestow any honor on the subjects? Curiosity only or is Emma influenced by her dislike of Jane—surely if Jane was her friend she would not have to be forced to hear of her and such a speculation would not occur to her when there are common sense reasons (as told by Miss Bates) for Jane to visit her aunt and grandmother? (;D)
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