Our next throwdown is designed for the spirit of giving. You have filled a sturdy basket with a roasted goose, side of ham, Christmas pudding, dishes of vegetables, orange marmalade, a box of tea leaves, yards of French lace, and enough ribbons to trim several bonnets. Jane Austen described many households in her novels, but I can't think of two that are more deserving of your largesse than Mrs. Bates' and Miss Bates', and Mrs. Smith's households. This week we ask you to decide on the individuals who are ...
Most Deserving of a Christmas Basket
Mrs. Bates and Miss Bates, widow and spinster, Emma
Miss Bates's cheery and gregarious disposition cannot hide the unalterable fact that she and her aged mother live in genteel but dire circumstances. Oh, yes, the Woodhouses, Eltons, and Mr. Knightley invite these two ladies over for teas, dinners, and picnics with regularity, but these two women must stretch every farthing and shilling to their utmost, darn every sock, mend every torn hem, boil every ham and chicken to the bone, and rework every bonnet in order to make ends meet. At Box Hill Mr. Knightley remonstrates Emma after she made fun of Miss Bates: "She is poor; she has sunk from the comforts she was born to; and, if she live to old age, must probably sink more. Her situation should secure your compassion. It was badly done, indeed!."
Mrs. Smith, widow, Persuasion
Prevented from benefiting from her husband's small inheritance through Mr. William Elliot's willful neglect, she is alone and impoverished. In such poor health that she is unable to walk or leave her small Bath apartment in Westgate Buildings, Mrs. Smith, has only the company of Nurse Rooke and the gossip she brings to keep her amused. She nevertheless manages to retain a cheery and optimistic outlook. Once Anne Elliot's supportive friend at school, she now depends on Anne's friendship in turn. "She had been used to affluence,--it was gone. She had no child to connect her with life and happiness again, no relations to assist in the arrangement of perplexed affairs, no health to make all the rest supportable. Her accommodations were limited to a noisy parlour, and a dark bed-room behind, with no possibility of moving from one to the other without assistance, which there was only one servant in the house to afford."
Posted by Vic, Jane Austen's World