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Saturday, March 7

Jane Austen Character Throwdown: Best Mistress of a Home

The Thorpe siblings won the unpopularity contest last week - you did not like them, you really did not like them. This week we ask you to consider the best mistress of a home: Emma Woodhouse and Elinor Dashwood. Both ladies are single, but their responsibilities towards hearth and home show a maturity far beyond their years.
Best Mistress of a Home

Miss Emma Woodhouse, Emma

Emma's mother died when she was very young, and she has been mistress of Hartfield ever since. Despite a father who requires almost constant supervision, Emma oversees the distribution of food and clothing to needy neighbors, and visits them regularly. She also makes sure others are provided for, saying, "I hope I am not often deficient in what is owing to guests." Elegant and rich, Emma knows how to act as the perfect hostess on any occasion.

Miss Elinor Dashwood, Sense and Sensibility

As the sensible daughter, Elinor has taken it upon herself to organise the household during the Dashwood women's much reduced circumstances. Keeping account of household records, she makes sure her mother and sisters stay within the boundaries of their budget. One simply knows that as Edward's wife, she will make the most of their small income even while creating a cozy and welcoming home. free polls
Jane Austen Character Throwdown: Best Mistress of a Home
Miss Emma Woodhouse Miss Elinor Dashwood


Lynn said...

Emma Woodhouse may be an elegant hostess, generous with her neighbors and a loving, dutiful daughter, but considering the fortune she has to operate Highbury with, she must manage but never have to economize to the bone as Elinor Dashwood must do every day !

Elinor stretches the family's very limited income just to keep food in the pantry, a roof over their heads, servants employed and all the while, keeping in check unwarranted spending desires by some of the members of the household.

I've always admired a woman who can stretch every pound sterling to the max, so I must give my full admiration and vote to the excellent Elinor Dashwood !

Anonymous said...

I love Elinor. :o)

Anonymous said...

Although I love Emma, I must agree with Lynn, she has had every advantage as the beginning of the novel tells us. In comparison, Elinor has to struggle against many difficulties, so she gets my vote.


Bostan natsuko said...

i voted for Elinor Dashwood

nigel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
nigel said...

Yes, Elinor Dashwood would make an excellent host, backed up by a talented Marianne too

Rachel said...

I think the votes are proof enough! Elinor has the womanly "sensibility" that deems her worthy of being best mistress of the home. Emma is in a more wealthy position in which the keeping of the home is not so much up to her, as it is to the servants she tells what to do. Elinor has an actual hand in the budget, groceries etc. and does a good job ine the way she orders the home ( since her mother, while sweet, does not merit the same praise. )

austen fan63 said...

Elinor, no contest.

And yay! My lit class is reading S&S starting this week. That makes me happy.

austenette said...

While I admire Elinor I voted for Emma. Money is not everything, and although it does help, being an orphaned child-mistress and a nurse to a hypochondriac, selfish father must be hell. I'd much rather switch places with Elinor than Emma. Especially that Elinor did have a mother, and although not the most sensible one, still the primary mistress of the house.

Anonymous said...

On the March, 13th post, Vic says:
According to last Sunday's Jane Austen Character Throwdown poll, readers seems to confirm that notion. Miss Woodhouse, although her responsibilities far outweigh those of Miss Dashwood, overseeing a large house, servants, parties, dinners, get-togethers, and charity for the poor, is behind in the poll by a margin of 3:1. Is this because we lack sympathy towards a rich girl who enjoys all the advantages of wealth and who indulges herself by interfering in the lives of others?

IMHO is not lack of sympathy towards a rich and spoiled girl. Emma is my favourite Austen heroine, but one has to give each one her due, in this case Emma and Elinor. As mistress of Hartfield I am sure Emma has many responsabilities, but if they could exchange places I could perfectly imagine Elinor doing it even better than Emma, but I hightly doubt that Emma could do as good as Elinor does in the Dashwood circumstances.