Sometimes we see what we want to see.
I have no idea why the Enneagram keeps coming to mind as I read Emma—that was not my intention when I set out to read this book, haha. As an Enneagram 6 though, I can often read a situation based on my own biases and fears. But can’t we all?
A project I’ve poured my energy and focus into doesn’t work out, so it must be my fault, right? My friends got together without me and it must be because I’m a terrible companion and they didn’t want me there.
In this week’s section of Emma, we see several cases where the signs were misleading, and the characters got carried along by what they wanted to see.
I did not feel sorry for Mr. Elton, although misunderstandings about one’s affections can be a terrible blow. He thought Emma cared for him and only thought of Miss Harriet Smith as a friend of Emma’s and nothing more. Emma saw his interest as a win for her in the matchmaking department and a win for Harriet who would benefit from a marriage to Mr. Elton. Everyone got a bit mixed up and it led to a very awkward carriage conversation between Emma and Mr. Elton, and some pain and heartache for Emma and Harriet.
Harriet was most gracious through it all. I wouldn’t have blamed her if she had been angry with Emma for interfering and leading her on. We read about her reaction in chapter seventeen: “The confession completely renewed her [Emma’s] first shame—and the sight of Harriet’s tears made her think that she should never be in charity with herself again. Harriet bore the intelligence very well—blaming nobody—and in every thing testifying such an ingenuousness of disposition and lowly opinion of herself, as much appear with particular advantage at that moment to her friend”.
When I’ve read a situation incorrectly or have to apologize to a friend for being in the wrong, it can be easy to want to shift the blame off myself. Why is it so terribly hard to admit when we’ve made a mistake? I was rather amazed that Emma was so honest with Harriet about her fault in the situation.
I’ve read that Emma, while not a fast-paced novel with intense action, does provide us a look into society at the time. I laughed at this line at the start of chapter twenty-nine: “It may be possible to do without dancing entirely. Instances have been known of young people passing many, many months successively, without being at a ball of any description, and no material injury accrue either to body or mind”.
Dances, parties, fancy meals, visiting back and forth between homes. These were a normal, everyday occurrence in Emma’s world. For us, we can reasonably go for days or hours without texting someone, checking social media, turning on a television, or sitting down at a computer. The way that we connect with each other has changed dramatically! I can count on one hand the number of dances I’ve been to in my life.
What do you think about the story so far? What do you think of Emma’s budding friendship with the newly arrived Mr. Frank Churchill? Do you think you would have fit in to Emma’s world? Let us know in the comments!
Here’s the schedule for the rest of the book:
March 24th: Chapters 30-43
March 31st: Chapters 44-55
What’s Coming Up:
In April we will be reading Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. Here’s a description of the book from Amazon: Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is the smart, warm, and uplifting story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey as she realizes. . . the only way to survive is to open your heart.