Chapter 2 Summary and Analysis
Mr. Weston: husband of Emma’s former governess
Mrs. Weston: Emma’s former governess
Mr. and Mrs. Churchill: brother and wife of Mr. Weston’s first wife
Frank Churchill: son of Mr. Weston
Mr. Perry: local apothecary, also serving as Mr. Woodhouse’s doctor
We are given the backgrounds of five new characters. Mr. Weston, formerly Captain Weston of the militia, first married into the prominent Churchill family and was scorned by his wife’s brother and the controlling Mrs. Churchill, who thought him beneath their social class and disinherited their sister. The Westons had a son, Frank, and he was brought up by the Churchills after Mrs. Weston died and given their name. Though he had never set foot in Highbury, the townspeople regard him as a celebrity. Currently, the Woodhouses are dealing with the fact that their beloved Miss Taylor is married and gone. Emma cherishes her with fond memories. Mr. Woodhouse remains convinced the marriage is a pity. He had even tried to prevent the guests from eating the wedding cake, warning that rich food is unhealthy.
From events in the backgrounds of significant characters, the importance of class distinction becomes clear. Though Mr. Weston is a good-natured, loyal man who served his country well enough to rise to the rank of captain, he was outclassed by the Churchills. Being from a great Yorkshire family gave them the privilege of influencing lives, which they did by disinheriting their sister and adopting their nephew and raising him however they saw fit. Being from the most prominent family in Highbury gives Emma and Mr. Woodhouse broad powers of influence. It is, therefore, especially painful to Mr. Woodhouse that he could not influence Miss Taylor to stay with them at Hartfield instead of marrying Mr. Weston and moving half a mile away. But then, he couldn’t influence the wedding guests to refrain from eating the cake either. Mr. Woodhouse is revealed as a caricature who mocks the actions and emotions of the main characters.