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Emma, Volume III, Chapter 8 (Chapter 44)



After an evening of self-loathing and contrition, Emma resolves to call on Miss Bates first thing in the morning to try to set things right.

Emma calls on Miss Bates

I won't go into all the details, just the things of interest:

1) There's a scramble when she first arrives, and it's clear that Jane Fairfax does not want to see Emma Woodhouse. Emma is also left to worry for a few moments that Miss Bates is going to avoid her as well, but Miss Bates does no such thing.

2) We get a lot of information from Miss Bates. In fact, she provides a bit of an info dump, which is allowable because it's completely in character for her. Also, as fuzzyfostermom pointed out in a comment to a previous post, Miss Bates's prattle provides quite a lot of information about Frank Churchill's story line.

We learn:

  a) The Eltons had a dinner party the night before, to which Emma was not invited. Miss Bates attended with her mother and her niece; Mr. Knightley did not attend, though he was invited.
  b) Frank Churchill left town suddenly the night before, something they learned while at the Eltons.
  c) After learning that Frank had left town, Jane Fairfax suddenly decided to accept the governess position that Mrs Elton kept shoving down her throat offering her.
  d) Jane has been sick and miserable since making that decision, but insists on proceeding.

Because Emma makes an effort to actually attend to Miss Bates and what she is saying, and because she is truly happy to be admitted to see Miss Bates after behaving so badly the day before, Emma is behaving as she actually ought to have been doing all along. And she finds it much easier to feel terrible for poor Jane Fairfax, who has made the decision to (nearly) go into service as a governess, and to find actual compassion for Jane, who she believes deserves something better.

This is an uneventful chapter as far as things go, which allows the reader to recover from the hubbub and horror of the Box Hill outing, but with so many events relayed, it's obvious that Jane Austen continues to stir the pot, and that things are going to kick up again soon.


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( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
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kellyrfineman
Mar. 13th, 2013 01:24 pm (UTC)
Indeed. Although there's already been a bit of "line 'em up to watch 'em fall" going on. I guess it's more of a Rube Goldberg thing with her.
nottygypsy
Mar. 13th, 2013 04:19 am (UTC)
Miss Bates also gives information as if she expects it's already about, she alludes to details others would keep to themselves as if thinking them already heard and known. As if everyone talks as much and as quick as herself.
kellyrfineman
Mar. 13th, 2013 01:25 pm (UTC)
True. And she ratted Jane Fairfax out, eventually telling Emma that Jane was not, in fact, lying on the bed - but it let Emma off the hook in a way, since she now knows just what was going on there.
midnightblooms
Mar. 13th, 2013 01:19 pm (UTC)
Miss Bates is a sweetheart. She's so artless and open.
kellyrfineman
Mar. 13th, 2013 01:27 pm (UTC)
True. But she'd be frustrating to have to deal with a lot, which is kind of the point, too. All that information is in there, and she tells you everything she knows (even the parts others want kept secret, really), but in such rambling detail that it would be difficult to sit through. And yet she is so good-hearted and mostly cheerful, even when things are awful.
midnightblooms
Mar. 14th, 2013 03:46 pm (UTC)
Oh, she's tedious to read and would be very difficult to spend time with, a living info-dump, as you said. But really I just can't help smiling each time she's on the page.

And she treats Emma so kindly even when it's clear she wishes Emma weren't there, which is the way Emma should have been treating Miss Bates. And Emma knows it and is so ashamed.

Box Hill is so terrible and painful for everyone, but it's the mirror Emma needed to understand herself and her faults better and start to change her character for the better.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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