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Sunday, May 3

Jane Austen Character Throwdown: Ruined Outing

Your choice of Mrs. Bennet as favorite comical character is not surprising, though I see that Mr.Woodhouse has quite a few fans as well. Our next question takes you outdoors. Which planned outing backfired the most - Fanny Price's trip to Sotherton or Emma Woodhouse's picnic on Box Hill?

Ruined Outing

Emma's Picnic on Box Hill, Emma

Nothing goes right for Emma on this planned excursion, which leaves her tearful and feeling lower than low when it ends with Mr. Knightley berating her for her cruel comment to Miss Bates. At first, "There was a languor, a want of spirits, a want of union, which could not be got over", then, "She had never seen Frank Churchill so silent and stupid. He said nothing worth hearing—looked without seeing—admired without intelligence—listened without knowing what she said." Feeling peevish, she embarrasses Miss Bates, prompting Mr. Knightley to admonish her: "Emma, I must once more speak to you as I have been used to do: a privilege rather endured than allowed, perhaps, but I must still use it. I cannot see you acting wrong, without a remonstrance. How could you be so unfeeling to Miss Bates? How could you be so insolent in your wit to a woman of her character, age, and situation?—Emma, I had not thought it possible." By this time we doubt that anything Emma ate at the picnic sat well in her stomach.

Fanny Price's One Hour Wait at Sotherton, Mansfield Park

First left by Edmund and Mary Crawford after she became fatigued during their ramble, Fanny waits on a bench for twenty minutes before the arrival of Henry Crawford, Maria Bertram, and Mr. Rushworth, who forgot to bring the key to the gate. As he walks back to Sotherton to retrieve the key, Maria and Henry slip around the gate, leaving Fanny alone. When Mr. Rushworth returns, Fanny has been waiting on and off for over an hour. Both Fanny and Mr. Rushworth wind up feeling ill-used, especially Fanny: "Fanny was again left to her solitude, and with no increase of pleasant feelings, for she was sorry for almost all that she had seen and heard, astonished at Miss Bertram, and angry with Mr. Crawford. By taking a circuitous, and as it appeared to her, very unreasonable direction to the knoll, they were soon beyond her eye; and for some minutes longer she remained without sight or sound of any companion. She seemed to have the little wood all to herself. She could almost have thought, that Edmund and Miss Crawford had left it, but that it was impossible for Edmund to forget her so entirely."


kaye dacus said...

I've never identified with any Austen character as much as I do with Fanny Price in that scene. I know the feeling of being left behind by the boy I have a crush on in favor of the popular, pretty girl all too well.

jmliss said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Faith said...

Miss Woodhouse had an unfriendly audience and everyone was very stupid that day at Box Hill. However, she was not pining for the love of a man who was throwing himself at a less-worthy woman. The pain of being left behind and forgotten by your love much outweighs the pain of a group of people out of sorts with one another. Pity Miss Price!

austenette said...

While I'm truly sorry for Fanny, I think that being left behind doesn't feel as strongly as discrediting oneself in the eyes of others, and that's what Emma did. IMO Box Hill backfired more.

nigel said...

Yes I would vote for jmliss' sugestion at Barton Park.

However I have a lot of empathy for girls who get left behind by the boys they like?

Because I know what it is like when a girl doesn't turn up, goes out with you for a dare or gains your attention just to make her boyfriend jealous!

But for me, Emma is a book on how unkind people can be, and Austen must have observed if not experienced the more despairing side of romance.

Lynn said...

The picnic in "Emma" is my choice by far !

Not only was Emma wonderfully humbled and dressed down by Mr. Knightley, but also by Mrs. Elton and Miss Bates (in her polite way) I was fed up with Emma's high and mighty attitudes and her toying with Harriet's life with the pretense that she was helping her until this point in the book ! I was very satisfied with the outcome of this pivotal moment and actually enjoyed reading about Emma struggling and trying to make amends to all she had hurt ! Don't even get me started on Frank Churchill !!!

Jane said...

How about the failed outing in "Sense and Sensibility" when Colonel Brandon runs off in haste to London leaving his visitors stranded confused & curious at his home, Delaford (had to correct that, it was killing me).