Posted by: jkirkby8712 | January 27, 2012

Tuesday, 24th January 2012 – Jane Austen’s ‘Emma’

A few hours sleep – heard Susie go off to an early shift at the Bakery, and I got up soon thereafter, and while I should have immediately headed outside and did a bit of work in the garden before it got too hot, instead, it was catching up on some computer and other work!!

Meanwhile, with all Australian individual hopes now out of the Australian Open, my attention should have been directed towards the 4rh cricket test between Australia and India which began this morning in Adelaide, but I really didn’t want to get trapped in front of the TV for the rest of the week, A bit difficult, with Australia winning the toss and deciding to bat, and a run a minute coming in the first half hour. It’s a beautiful cricket ground, the Adelaide Oval with the backdrop of the city, and river, etc, and it was in fact one of the other major cricket grounds in Australia that I have watched cricket at, the other being Brisbane, and of course, Melbourne’s MCG. Have been to the Sydney Cricket Ground, but that was to watch a football match!  Anyway, glad I didn’t settle down to watch too closely, that first 30 minutes ended with the first wicket going down, not a promising outcome!

After a spot of work in the yard, I retreated from the heat of the sun, and indulged in some reading for an hour or so. In fact, the book was ‘Emma’ by Jane Austen  –  I’m not sure what encouraged me to draw that one from the shelves a couple of weeks ago, and go for a bit of English classical culture, as the literature from those  days one would not normally classify as a bit of light hearted summer novel reading. But, it was a change of pace from recent and other current reading, and I quite enjoyed it.  ‘Emma’, the writing of which commenced in 1815, is about the perils of misconstrued romance, and is described as an exploration of the concerns and difficulties faced by genteel women living in Georgia-Regency England at that time.  Here is an interesting little review of the storyline, which while it basically gives away the plot, might encourage a reader out there to pick up one of Jane Austen’s novels, and have a ‘new’ experience in something old , an original piece of English literature. I don’t know who the writer was, but it’s a concise précis.

“Although convinced that she herself will never marry anyone, Emma Woodhouse, a precocious almost twenty-one-year-old resident of the village of Highbury, imagines herself to be naturally gifted in conjuring love matches. After self-declared success at matchmaking between her governess and Mr. Weston, a village widower, Emma takes it upon herself to find an eligible match for her new friend, Harriet Smith. Though Harriet’s parentage is unknown, Emma is convinced that Harriet deserves to be a gentleman’s wife and sets her friend’s sights on Mr. Elton, the village vicar. Meanwhile, Emma persuades Harriet to reject the proposal of Robert Martin, a well-to-do farmer for whom Harriet clearly has feelings.

Harriet becomes infatuated with Mr. Elton under Emma’s encouragement, but Emma’s plans go awry when Elton makes it clear that his affection is for Emma, not Harriet. Emma realises that her obsession with making a match for Harriet has blinded her to the true nature of the situation. Mr. Knightley, the brother of Emma’s brother-in-law and her treasured friend, watches Emma’s matchmaking efforts with a critical eye. He believes that Mr. Martin is a worthy young man whom Harriet would be lucky to marry. He and Emma quarrel over Emma’s meddling, and, as usual, Mr. Knightley proves to be the wiser of the pair. Elton, spurned by Emma and offended by her insinuation that Harriet is his equal, leaves for the town of Bath and marries a young woman there almost immediately.

Emma is left to comfort Harriet and to wonder about the character of a new visitor expected in Highbury—Mr. Weston’s son, Frank Churchill. Frank is set to visit his father in Highbury after having been raised by his aunt and uncle in London, who have also adopted him as their heir. Emma knows nothing about Frank, who has long been deterred from visiting his father by his aunt’s illnesses and complaints. Mr. Knightley is immediately suspicious of the young man, especially after Frank rushes back to London merely to have his hair cut. Emma, however, finds Frank delightful and notices that his charms are directed mainly toward her. Though she plans to discourage these charms, she finds herself flattered and engages in a flirtation with the young man. Emma greets Jane Fairfax, another addition to the Highbury set, with less enthusiasm. Jane is beautiful and accomplished, but Emma dislikes her because of her reserve and, the narrator insinuates, because she is jealous of Jane.

Suspicion, intrigue, and misunderstandings ensue. Mr. Knightley defends Jane, saying that she deserves compassion because, unlike Emma, she has no independent fortune and must soon leave home to work as a governess. Mrs. Weston suspects that the warmth of Mr. Knightley’s defense comes from romantic feelings, an implication Emma resists. Everyone assumes that Frank and Emma are forming an attachment, though Emma soon dismisses Frank as a potential suitor and imagines him as a match for Harriet. At a village ball, Knightley earns Emma’s approval by offering to dance with Harriet, who has just been humiliated by Mr. Elton and his new wife. The next day, Frank saves Harriet from Gypsy beggars. When Harriet tells Emma that she has fallen in love with a man above her social station, Emma believes that she means Frank. Knightley begins to suspect that Frank and Jane have a secret understanding, and he attempts to warn Emma. Emma laughs at Knightley’s suggestion and loses Knightley’s approval when she flirts with Frank and insults Miss Bates, a kindhearted spinster and Jane’s aunt, at a picnic. When Knightley reprimands Emma, she weeps.   News comes that Frank’s aunt has died, and this event paves the way for an unexpected revelation that slowly solves the mysteries. Frank and Jane have been secretly engaged; his attentions to Emma have been a screen to hide his true preference. With his aunt’s death and his uncle’s approval, Frank can now marry Jane, the woman he loves.  Emma worries that Harriet will be crushed, but she soon discovers that it is Knightley, not Frank, who is the object of Harriet’s affection. Harriet believes that Knightley shares her feelings. Emma finds herself upset by Harriet’s revelation, and her distress forces her to realise that she is in love with Knightley. Emma expects Knightley to tell her he loves Harriet, but, to her delight, Knightley declares his love for Emma. Harriet is soon comforted by a second proposal from Robert Martin, which she accepts. The novel ends with the marriage of Harriet and Mr. Martin and that of Emma and Mr. Knightley, resolving the question of who loves whom after all”.

Of course the manner in which the C19th author depicts all this is very much in the style of those times, and I imagine that modern day readers of a ‘romance’ novel would find the whole process rather tedious and long winded – perhaps the difference between true literary styles of past decades [which often took years to write] and the ‘supermarket’ style production of much reading material these days. Anyway, I’ve put myself in the mode of the former, over the past couple of weeks, and I might well be into another of Austen’s books in the near future.

Stumps on Day 1 of the 4th Cricket Test, sees the Australians in a strong position, on a day that saw Ricky Ponting score his 41st test century. Scores: Australia 1st Innings:  3 wickets for 335 runs, with Michael Clarke not out on 140, and Ricky Ponting not out 137. 

Meanwhile, at the Tennis, there were some Quarter Final matches completed today, and this evening, and those results were as follows. 

  • MEN: Roger Federer  defeated  Juan Martin del Potro  6/4, 6/3, 6/2…………………Rafael Nadal defeated Tomas Berydch 6/7, 7/6, 6/4, 6/3 
  • WOMEN:  Kim Clijsters defeated Caroline Wozniacki 6/3, 7/6…………….Victoria Azarenka defeated Agnieazka Radwanska 6/7, 6/0, 6/2

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