Archive for April, 2011

Jane Fairfax is an orphan who grew up in places other than Highbury; notably with her father's friend Colonel Campbell. She lived in places such as Ireland, and is known for always being "sick". Her aunt Miss Jane Bates, constantly frets over her welfare. Jane returns to Highbury to stay because of her sickness. Jane is quite popular among the men in the town. She is kind, humble, and not very wealthy. Her attention of the people in the town makes Emma Woodhouse begin to dislike her.

She is described as, "That sweet, amiable Jane Fairfax" by Emma's sister, Isabella Knightley. It seems like the entire town is in love with Miss Fairfax in comparison to Emma; other than Harriet Smith, and Emma herself.

Polly Walker as Jane Fairfax in "Emma" (1996)

Jane Fairfax, is in a way the comic relief of the book because of the rivalry that results in Emma's head between them. Emma is attracted to both Frank Churchill and George Knightley, and both men seem very interested in Jane Fairfax; the arrival of Jane messes up her matchmaking. In a way, Jane Fairfax seems like she should be the person that everyone SHOULD like in comparison to Emma. But, as a reader I actually started to feel bad that Emma lost some of the attention that was given to her before Jane Fairfax arrived. One of the most interesting parts of the book is the growing/diminishing friendship between the two, and the troubles Jane Fairfax unintentionally causes in Emma’s life.

A book has even been written by Joan Aiken to tell the story of the character, Jane Fairfax, who, for obvious reasons of the story being mainly about the world of Emma Woodhouse, was not mentioned very often, in a good light, by Emma.


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Jane Austen had a few “lovers” in her life, although there is not too much evidence of any of them. One of these is now seen in the movie Becoming Jane, Thomas Lefroy. Lefroy could not afford to marry Jane Austen, or else he would have lost his large inheritance; they were only around twenty years old. Lefroy admitted a “boyish love” for Austen; he later became Chief Justice of Ireland. She met a man in Bath at the age of 27, who fell in love with her, and then sadly died before their next meeting. Harris Big-Wither, in Manytown, England, proposed to marry her and she accepted in 1802. The next day, she decided against it and left Bath. Like her sister Cassandra, Jane Austen never married.

Portrait of Thomas "Tom" Lefroy

Jane Austen wrote the following dialogue between Emma and Harriet about Emma not being married/in search of someone to marry. Emma states numerous times that she will never find anyone to marry.
The following is from Chapter 10:

Harriet Smith:
“But still, you will be an old maid! — and that’s so dreadful!”

Emma Woodhouse:
“Never mind, Harriet, I shall not be a poor old maid; and 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 any body else. […]”

Harriet Smith:
“Dear me! but what shall you do? how shall you employ yourself when you grow old?”

Emma Woodhouse:
“If I know myself, Harriet, mine is an active, busy mind, with a great many independent resources; and I do not perceive why I should be more in want of employment at forty or fifty than one-and-twenty. Woman’s usual occupations of eye and hand and mind will be as open to me then as they are now; or with no important variation. If I draw less, I shall read more; if I give up music, I shall take to carpet-work. And as for objects of interest, objects for the affections, which is in truth the great point of inferiority, the want of which is really the great evil to be avoided in not marrying, I shall be very well off, with all the children of a sister I love so much, to care about. There will be enough of them, in all probability, to supply every sort of sensation that declining life can need. There will be enough for every hope and every fear; and though my attachment to none can equal that of a parent, it suits my ideas of comfort better than what is warmer and blinder. My nephews and nieces! — I shall often have a niece with me.”


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A Little Tune

One of the most resonating elements of Emma to me is the mystery of the pianoforte (basically an old name for a piano). Miss Jane Fairfax, who is visiting her aunt due to sickness, has no piano or musical instruments at the house to play on. But one day, Jane Fairfax receives a beautiful pianoforte from a mystery-man with no note attached. It is speculated that Mr. Knightley gave her the piano, which even more intensfies Emma’s struggle for attention, because she fears that her closest friend is even getting drawn into Jane Fairfax more than herself. Jane Fairfax plays piano beautifully, and attracts the attention of all of the men around her –Mr. Elton, Mr. Knightley, and especially Frank Churchill.

For an aspect of my blog, I have decided to play a song, which I have only had for a few weeks, named “Dawn” by Dario Marianelli. I decided to choose a non-traditional classical song (instead of a piece by Mozart or Beethoven) because I feel like it better represents Emma’s brightness, even though she is definitely rich and kind of uptight sometimes, and her hope. Marianelli was inspired by the music of Jane Austen’s lifetime when he wrote the piece. It was made for the soundtrack to the movie Pride and Prejudice, but I feel like it truly applies to my book as well.

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Michael Gambon as Mr. Woodhouse in "Emma" (2009)

I have decided that I would like to do a sort of “character-series” of the characters featured in the book. One of the first characters I was invited by the book to view was the peculiar, but charming, character of widow Mr. Woodhouse. Mr. Woodhouse is mentioned as an “indulgent father” on the first page of the book, and throughout the book this generosity, and impartiality to his daughters, is quite evident. What I found most interesting about Mr. Woodhouse were his two main focuses in life.

1. His daughters. Isabella and Emma, and Emma’s previous governess, Miss Taylor (now Mrs. Weston), are always on his thoughts in his conversation. One of the most common things that he says throughout the novel is, “Oh! Poor Mrs. Weston!” He cannot fathom that she left them. He also is obsessive about his other daughter Isabella who lives further away. Emma feels a little bit obliged to stay with her father, and it seems like her father plays an important role on many of her life’s decisions. Their relationship reminds me of a 1990’s daughter-to-father relationship from one of my favorite Disney movies.

2. Health. His health, the health of his daughters, and the health of basically anyone he comes into contact with. His hypochondria leads to many changes throughout the book in things like locations of parties and Emma’s lifestyle.

An example from Chapter 38 of his increasing concern, after Miss Jane Fairfax tells guests at a party she went to fetch her mail before it rained. “I am very sorry to hear, Miss Fairfax, of your being out this morning in the rain. Young ladies should take care of themselves. Young ladies are delicate plants. They should take care of their health and their complexion. My dear, did you change your stockings?” – Chapter 34

“Mrs. Bates, let me propose your venturing on one of these eggs. An egg boiled very soft is not unwholesome. Serle understands boiling an egg better than anybody. I would not recommend an egg boiled by anyone else – but you need not be afraid, they are very small, you see – one of our small eggs will not hurt you. Miss Bates, let Emma help you to a little bit of tart – a very little bit. Ours are all apple-tarts. You need not be afraid of unwholesome preserves here. I do not advise the custard. Mrs. Goddard, what say you to half a glass of wine? A small half-glass, put into a tumbler of water? I do not think it could disagree with you.” – Chapter 3

He is quite the peculiar character. But, with all of the change in his life I think that his oddness is, in a way, justified. I think that he deals with the loss of almost all of the women in his wife by filling the void with over-concern. He does not really enjoy the thought of marriages, because it takes the women he loves away from him. But, he is a whole-hearted character, and it is obvious that people love him from the first page. I find him to be very interesting and, even though sometimes he darkens the moods of the actual characters, a witty and a rather funny character who makes the book more enjoyable.

For some more of Mr. Woodhouse’s remarks and comments throughout the novel on marriage, socializing, and other events in his life, I suggest this website to reference: http://www.pemberley.com/wdl/woodhousewit.html

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I found a quote online today. It reminded me of something that Emma would have told her “project” of sorts named Harriet Smith about Mr. Martin, the man who Emma does not Harriet to fall in love with. Her first project was her respected governess, Miss Taylor, who married Mr. Weston. Emma made a lucky match between the two, and in some ways, ignorantly believes that she is an amazing matchmaker. Harriet Smith, is an orphan-of-sorts and not very highly ranked in society, but is proposed to by Mr. Martin, a rising farmer. Harriet, it seems, is overtaken by being undertaken by Emma Woodhouse; she is enamored by Emma, and loves being her friend. Regardless, Emma pushes her to disregard the proposal of Mr. Martin “indirectly”, and sets Harriet’s sights on the higher-ranking vicar, Mr. Elton, who obviously does not have his sights set on Harriet….

Emma continues her praisal of Harriet’s decision to not wed Mr. Martin throughout the novel.

Blake Ritson as Mr. Elton in "Emma" (2009)

Jefferson Hall as Robert Martin in "Emma" (2009)

The quote is an old English proverb, “What the eye doesn’t see, the heart doesn’t grieve over.” I can see Emma thinking this because of the huge separation which Harriet has from Mr. Martin in daily life, and from the back-handed insults of the man which Emma dished out. But, I feel like Harriet actually would have cared if she would have thought things over more instead of just blindly following Emma’s, in a way good, but mistakenly bad intentions.

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A quick reference resource for basically everything to do with the customs of the Regency Era (1811-1820), in which both Jane Austen and her character Emma lived.

Social Customs During The Regency Era.

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Well, hello world. I am in the process of making a blog for an English project, as probably shown by the blog title “myemmaproject”; yes, I am very clever at coming up with names. I am completely new to the world of blogging. Much like the book in which I am doing my project on, Jane Austen’s Emma, I am probably thinking that I will be better at this than I actually am. But, what a better way to start my blog than beautiful pictures?

First a quick explanation…
The novel Emma features the main character, Emma Woodhouse, as the creator of new beginnings; although, as she is single and against the concept of marriage, she is an unlikely matchmaker. The “new beginnings” concept throughout the story gives it a fresh spring-time feel. The rich, yet sometimes modest/sometimes immodest character, character Emma experienced both the beauty of nature and of a lavish life.
The following images are some of the many which I associated with the novel, as well as things that the author, Jane Austen, experienced outside of her home.

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