Posted by Kali on June 23, 1997 at 06:40:33:
In reply to Caroline Bingley, Emma and other parallel characters in Jane Austenland posted by Lynne on June 10, 1997 at 19:12:02
In a slightly different vein, here's one for the Two Roads Diverged In A Wood Department:
I've always thought that Austen meant for Miss Bates and Mrs. Elton to serve as more than just ciphers intended to reveal to Emma her faulty social and moral monopolies...how about Mrs. Elton and Miss Bates as wake-up calls from the future - unsuitable identities which Emma, on her current course, might inherit unless she gives up her blind and self-indulgent ways.
On one hand, we have the ignorant and presumptuous snob, who, like Caroline Bingley, has in her socioromantic frustrations has incubated an increasingly incurable case of selfish tunnel vision. Picture Emma when she is past the sweet age when precociousness is charming, having erred irreparably in serious circumstances more than once, perhaps mortally offending people in the process (popularity fades, dignity is sacrificed in pitiful attempts to regain it). Which brings me to the next possibility! ;-)
On the other, we have the delusional, ever-rationalizing old maid. While Miss Bates can be admired for keeping up a positive and brave face, I think her incessant yammering and perpetual goodwill is the only way she can keep from succumbing to depressing reality. Remember when Emma states that the only difference between her future celibacy and Miss Bates' is money...it sounds ridiculous (some of Austen's obvious irony here...but I'm digressing)! We can all see how prone Emma is to falling prey to her own rationalization schemes. Yet somehow, like Harriet, we know that Emma could NEVER end up like Miss Bates...she is much too charming not to marry...or is she? Which brings me back to the other shoe that doesn't seem to fit, but may yet - the Mrs. Elton complex...