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Lecture 20

Lecture 20 - 131120.doc

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University of Toronto St. George
Deidre Lynch

Lecture 20 – 131120 Emma – Jane Austen - It’s called Austen’s equivalent of a detective fiction (that genre doesn’t exist yet in 1816) Topics today: - Character’s relationship to narrative and storytelling - Emma’s relationship to Harriet Smith - Ch. 9 and charades (early 19 century term synonym to riddles) - - “Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich…or vex her.” – opening of Emma - One of the things you can say about the novel Emma is that it begins with the state of perfection in which novels are usually supposed to end with - Miss Taylor’s marriage announced in the beginning as a “gentle sorrow” - The question is, how do you make a story out of something that’s already so perfect? - “She seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence” - “I have none of the usual inducements of women to marry” – she doesn’t have all the desires and desperations that other women have because she doesn’t have any material needs because she’s already got them o She’s very involved with herself o She couldn’t as a wife be more of a master of the house (she knows she’s in charge) - Partly because she starts with happiness, with a comfortable home and with riches, she’s an immobile character compared to other protagonists we’ve studied (they moved around a lot because they get opportunities to travel or because they are poor and need to move to another house) - Pg. 33: “‘She almost declares she will never marry…and she goes so seldom from home.’” o She has never seen the sea o She has a threat of never meeting anybody – she doesn’t see it as a threat but this conversation shows that this is some way in which Emma is being cheated o Contrast with other protagonists in other novels is that Emma’s city is a place no one comes to - Pg. 15: “Now upon his father’s marriage…to come among them.” o He doesn’t show up – he’s like a John Doe o Everyone’s waiting for him but he doesn’t show - It is partly her father who sees Miss Taylor’s marriage as a sorrowful occasion – “the loss of Miss Taylor” o He doesn’t seem to be able to stir - He says that “it’s too far to walk” to visit the Westons o He’s such an opponent of change o Where we seem to be situated in the beginning of the novel is a novel where it is absolutely settled - One of the things that saves Emma, and one of the reasons why she’s not completely miserable in this town and with her father – she’s associated from the start with imagination o She’s a figure of imagination o She’s very pleased with herself – her imagination kind of entertains her - Vol. 1, ch. 3, pg. 20: “With an alacrity…with its own ideas.” o Self-reliance - Emma’s project to improve Harriet, ch. 9: “Her views of improving her little friend’s mind…comprehension.” o Imagination ranging – Emma can’t physically move but her imagination moves - She’s also quite naturally by Austen depicted increasingly as the novel goes on as a kind of character who aspires to be an author herself o One way to understand he feel for matchmaking o Authorial aspirations (ambition to be author) gives us way to see her relationship with Harriet (she’s making a love plot for her)  Harriet is the source of narrative – her entry is what launches her narrative  Harriet is “good material” – she’s very malleable when she’s told to • She’s pretty and from a strange mysterious history – “a foundling”, “parentage is uncertain”, “natural daughter of somebody” (born out of wedlock)  The world thinks that Evelina is the nat
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