emma - Randall Boessenecker A07608490 Chapter 32 In Chapter...

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Randall Boessenecker A07608490 Chapter 32 In Chapter 32 of Emma, Austen uses a subtly strained meeting between the aristocratically born, well-bred heroine of the story, Emma Woodhouse, and the nouveau- riche bride of the village vicar, Mr. Elton. This meeting is significant to the plot and general theme of the novel not only because it presents to Emma yet another feminine rival, but more so because it is one of the clearest examples in which we see the contrasting juxtaposition of elegance vs. vulgarity, a major theme of the novel. The manner in which Mrs. Elton displays her over-familiarity, her undue condescension, and her unrestrained boasting of the luxury of her past life, are all shown in stark contrast to Emma’s tasteful reserve and overall elegance of manner. From the first moments of Mrs. Elton’s intercourse with the novel’s heroine, Emma Woodhouse is struck by the extremely coarse way in which Mrs. Elton assumes over-familiarity with many of their mutual acquaintance, many of whom Emma has known intimately her entire life, and even Emma herself, demonstrating very clearly that Mrs. Elton’s manners are indeed lacking in gentility. As Mrs. Elton begins her ravings about the beauty of the Hartfield estate, she proves very presumptuous indeed, claiming that her “brother and sister will be enchanted with this place (pg. 218).” This careless exclamation shows that Mrs. Elton has already assumed not only that she shall be welcomed back to Hartfield, but that she may, at some point in the future, bring her siblings to visit and admire the grounds as well. This over-familiarity with Emma is displayed further when she tells Emma that “[Emma] and [Mrs. Elton] must establish a
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musical club (221),” assuming that she and Emma, if not already great friends after this single fifteen minute meeting, will become the best of friends in due time. However, her over-familiarity with Emma, aside from being somewhat annoying and slightly rude, could possibly be construed as her need for new friends. It is when she displays her completely inappropriate over-familiarity with Emma’s closest friends that she clearly demonstrates the coarseness of her manners. Mrs. Elton proves both foolish and ill mannered when she casually remarks to Emma that she was “rather astonished to find [Mrs. Weston] so very lady-like (222).” This statement proves a double-edged sword, at once insulting Mrs. Weston’s previous social position as Emma’s governess, and insulting Emma for Mrs. Elton was astonished to find Emma’s teacher to be “quite the gentlewoman (pg. 222).” However, this seemingly unintentional slight to Mrs. Weston’s
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emma - Randall Boessenecker A07608490 Chapter 32 In Chapter...

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