Chapters 19-21 Summary and Analysis
Jane Fairfax: niece of Mrs. Bates; cousin of Miss Bates
In an attempt to divert Harriet’s attention away from Mr. Elton, Emma calls on Mrs. and Miss Bates. They have just received a letter from their niece, Jane Fairfax. Emma attempts to coax Miss Bates into talking about the letter so she won’t have to actually hear it read. She learns that Jane Fairfax is coming to the house for a visit instead of going to Ireland with her adoptive parents.
Emma is curious about why Jane should come to Highbury instead of Ireland, but Miss Bates offers only bland assurance that Jane wants to visit. By the time Miss Bates gets around to actually reading the letter, Emma escapes out the door.
Jane Fairfax’s background is given. She was orphaned at a young age and adopted by Colonel and Mrs. Campbell, who had a natural daughter about Jane’s age who would later marry Mr. Dixon. The Campbells determined that Jane would be brought up to be a governess and to that end she was well-educated and cared for.
Emma doesn’t like Jane Fairfax and resents having to be nice to her for three months. But once she sees her, she feels guilty for disliking her. She resolves to be charitable toward her since she had an unfortunate past and little future. She forgives her for seducing her brother-in-law, Mr. Dixon. But before the evening is over, her old attitudes return. She doesn’t forgive Jane Fairfax a thing.
Mr. Knightley accuses Emma of pushing Jane for information. Emma says she only questioned her politely. Miss Bates and Jane Fairfax arrive with the news that Mr. Elton is going to be married. Though the news startles Emma, Jane is silent. Unlike Emma, she doesn’t form opinions about people she hasn’t met. Miss Bates and Jane leave, followed by Harriet’s arrival. Emma is certain she looks flushed because she has heard the news of Mr. Elton’s marriage. Instead, she tells Emma that she ran into the Martin family in a Highbury shop, that though they approached her with hesitation, Mr. Martin spoke kindly to her. Emma attempts to lessen Harriet’s interest in this...
(The entire section is 558 words.)