Generally my wardrobe is a lot of things. Professional, colorful, and bold just to name a few. It is not, however, high maintenance and neither am I. Particular? Well yes. Has an appreciation and preference for quality? Definitely. But all my choices, in life and when picking what to wear, are always pretty easy going. For example this breezy, flowing, silky, pale peach romper. Thin and lightweight, it feels freeing but is held together in the middle with sheer white lace . That way everything stays in it’s place. Topped with a multicolored, linen blazer against a background of soft gray to give it a professional yet casual tone. And I definitely can take life in strides when walking in these killer cutout wedge booties. Is it a boot? Is it a sandal? Why do you have to decide? Finally, nothing is as loose as a purse covered in hanging fringe, in a matching palette of peach and cream, but with a series of knots along the bottom keeping it all secure. See? Simple, easy, and soft. Unlike some some other people I know.
“His tall, firm, upright figure, among the bulky forms and stooping shoulders of the elderly men, was such as Emma felt must draw every body’s eyes; and, excepting her own partner, there was not one among the whole row of young men who could be compared with him.”
I almost threw my back out last time. Oh, well that’s what you get for trying to restrain a lady against her will. As if I could ever get you to do anything against your will. Seriously though, you’re like unnaturally strong. It’s intimidating.
The first time I read “Emma,” I had only one critique. I sincerely hoped that, by the end of the novel, Mr. Woodhouse would grow from a caricature to a character. And I thought Austen had the perfect opportunity- Emma’s fear to leave her invalid father for her new husband- and then ignored it.
I was wrong. Mr. Woodhouse’s eccentricity allows Jane Austen to slip in a sucker punch against the patriarchy. At this point, it’s either rant to Tumblr or bother my hot Brit Lit professor.
Let’s recap slightly. Emma and Knightley acknowledge their love for each other, but Emma can’t bear to leave her father. To make their marriage possible, Knightley agrees to move to Hartfield for the foreseeable future.
Does anyone notice how radical that is?
Under typical norms, Emma gives up her name, home, and identity. Moving into her husband’s house is just one facet of becoming legally and emotionally subservient. But Mr. Knightley moves in with them. He takes on the feminine gender role. Knightley leaves his home for his wife’s domain.
This isn’t just a single subversive act, it’s a way for Austin to demonstrate a critique of marriage at large. For the rest of the novel, the side characters tut about poor Knightley, losing his own personal space, facing horrid in-laws. The problems of marriage are considered inconsequential when faced by powerless young women. However, by subjecting an independent older bachelor to them, Austen shows the flaws in the marital contract.
- Wait, but isn’t the marriage plot the entire point of Jane Austen?-
This is where things get cool.
Austen gets away with it because she puts the impetus back on Mr. Woodhouse. Emma isn’t being subversive or feminist, she’s just a devoted daughter. For a conservative readership, this just plays into a different set of gender norms. The attack on marriage is veiled under a defense of paternal piety. Austen challenges the patriarchy…. under the cover of patriarchy!!!!
“I cannot make speeches, Emma,” he soon resumed; and in a tone of such sincere, decided, intelligible tenderness as was tolerably convincing. “If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more. But you know what I am. You hear nothing but truth from me.”
“Hopefully you remember us from Caroline Lee’s engagement party. I’m William Darcy and this is my… fiancée, Lizzie Bennet. We want to know if you’d be interested in planning a wedding in San Francisco.”