Friday, January 27, 2012

"A single woman, of good fortune, is always respectable."

           When I happened to ask Miss Woodhouse what she thought of Old-maids, Valentine's Day, and being unmarried, this is what she gave me. :)
 "I do so wonder, Miss Woodhouse, that you should not be married, or going to be married! so charming as you are!"--
             Emma laughed, and replied, "My being charming, Harriet, is not quite enough to induce me to marry; I must find other people charming--one other person at least. And I am not only, not going to be married, at present, but have very little intention of ever marrying at all."
              "Ah!--so you say; but I cannot believe it."
               "I must see somebody very superior to any one I have seen yet, to be tempted; Mr. Elton, you know, (recollecting herself,) is out of the question: and I do not wish to see any such person. I would rather not be tempted. I cannot really change for the better. If I were to marry, I must expect to repent it."
               "Dear me!--it is so odd to hear a woman talk so!"--
                "I have none of the usual inducements of women to marry. Were I to fall in love, indeed, it would be a different thing! but I never have been in love; it is not my way, or my nature; and I do not think I ever shall. And, without love, I am sure I should be a fool to change such a situation as mine. Fortune I do not want; employment I do not want; consequence I do not want: I believe few married women are half as much mistress of their husband's house as I am of Hartfield; and never, never could I expect to be so truly beloved and important; so always first and always right in any man's eyes as I am in my father's."
             "But then, to be an old maid at last, like Miss Bates!"
              "That is as formidable an image as you could present, Harriet; and if I thought I should ever be like Miss Bates! so silly--so satisfied-- so smiling--so prosing--so undistinguishing and unfastidious-- and so apt to tell every thing relative to every body about me, I would marry to-morrow. But between us, I am convinced there never can be any likeness, except in being unmarried."
                "But still, you will be an old maid! and that's so dreadful!"
                 "Never mind, Harriet, I shall not be a poor old maid; and it is poverty only which makes celibacy contemptible to a generous public! A single woman, with a very narrow income, must be a ridiculous, disagreeable old maid! the proper sport of boys and girls, but a single woman, of good fortune, is always respectable, and may be as sensible and pleasant as any body else." 
                                                       ~Emma by Jane Austen


Jenny Freitag said...

Oh, Emma is a bad girl and very full of herself, but I find myself pitying her for her foolish words more often than not because in all the worst ways we two are much alike.

But this is heigh-ho-for-a-husband-ness! Ness? That was The Lantern Bearers... A very good excerpt to choose, Rachel. I can see Emma's point, and I think her point is a good one even if I think her bad for revelling at Miss Bates' expense.

Rachel Heffington said...

Yes, Emma is a very bad girl, and she did deserve a resounding "Badly done indeed!" However, she did have sense, as you many women are in the same plight all around us? Always letting their tongues run away with whatever flies through their brains..... :D