Should We Pity Miss Bates or Strive to Be Her?

Oh Miss. Bates. Often we see her in Emma  films or when we encounter her in the story we ignore her:

Find her annoying:

Or pity her:

But then something stood out to me this time I read it that made me wonder…

Hmm…

Maybe WE have always approached this character the wrong way and we should actually strive to BE her.

So let’s start at the beginning.

Miss Bates was the daughter of a vicar, he having passed on and left the family in an improvised state.

She isn’t known to be intelligent, witty, or wise.

She wasn’t considered beautiful when she was young and isn’t seen as such now,

She never was courted, engaged, or married.

Her youth passed by with no distinction.

She now is middle-aged and spends all her time taking care of her elderly mother.

 And she spends most of her time trying to stretch her dollars as far as they can go.

Yes, life seems to be pretty grim.

So why should we want to be like her?

Because, despite ALL this, despite her life and circumstances, this is how she is:

“And yet she was a happy woman, and a woman whom no one named without good-will[sic].”

And where does this happiness come from? How does she have such pleasant emotion in such a bleak situation?

“It was her own universal good-will[sic] and contented temper which worked such wonders.”

Yes, her happiness isn’t derived from objects, money, people, beauty, etc. She is happy because she wants to be happy…

And because she can find pleasure in everything.

“She loved everybody, was interested in everyone’s happiness, quicksighted[sic] to every body’s merits: thought herself a most fortunate creature, and surrounded with blessings in such an excellent mother, and so many good neighbors and friends, and a home that wanted for nothing.”

Yes, most of us would be complaining, grumbling, whining, or disgusted to have her life…

But that isn’t how Miss Bates react. Instead she is joyful in everything and thankful for all she has in her life, even though most would view it as nothing. She reminds me of the green onion girl from Veggietales. Always joyful in everything.

And because of her joyful spirit she finds herself enjoying “a most uncommon degree of popularity.”

And that’s why I believe we should strive to be like her. How much nicer would life be if we learn to love what we have? If we tried to be kind and compassionate to all? If we looked at the good in others and our life instead of focusing on the negative?

For more on Miss Bates, go to A Bit Pottery About Jane Austen

For more Emma, go to When You Shockingly Relate to Mr. Woodhouse

For more Cristina Garcia quotes, go to Optimum Image

For more Charles Dickens quotes, go to Trek the Halls with Bones and Scotty

For more L.M. Montgomery quotes, go to I’m the Happiest Girl on Prince Edward Island: Anne of Green Gables

For more bible verses, go to Each Illustration is a Little Story. If You Watch Them, In a Few Minutes They Tell You a Tale: The Illustrated Man

For more Steve Maraboli quotes, go to The Final Chapter

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All By Myself

Being alone can suck.

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And I’m not talking about being single or just having some fun by yourself, you know space away from people.

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I’m talking about being lonely. As in no best friends or people you can really talk to or hangout with.

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In fact, if we spend a  lot of time alone we can start doing things that we don’t normally do,

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And even going as far as doing things we didn’t think through.

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Which really explains Emma’s character.

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Yes, in the beginning of Emma, we read that her life has been pretty awesome:

“Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her.”

Life is great.

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Until…

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Her governess gets married!

Say What

Come on, give me a second and I’ll explain.

So Emma lost her mother when she was a baby. To take care of her and her older sister, Isabella; Mr. Woodhouse hired a governess, Miss Taylor, but she was young and treated the girls more like her sisters than charges. In fact, after Emma’s older sister was married, Miss Taylor and Emma became the best of friends. BUT, with Miss Taylor’s marriage, that close companion is now gone. Not for good, but when your friend gets married, or in a romantic relationship with someone, your friendship changes. No longer does that person have as much time for you or free time, as they are now focused on someone else. No more Miss Taylor, just Mrs. Weston.

“It was true that her friend [Mrs. Weston] was only going half a mile from them; but Emma was aware that great must be the difference from a Mrs. Weston, only half a mile from them, and a Miss Taylor in the house…”

In losing Miss Taylor to Mr. Weston, Emma loses more than just a governess. She loses a sister, mother, friend, confidant, equal, etc. And is all by herself.

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“Her father and her were left to dine together, with no prospect of a third to cheer a long evening.”

Noo!

Noo!

But what about her father?

Well, Emma’s father is not the best companion. First of all she is a girl, and I don’t care what anyone says (looking at you Mean Girls 2), girls need other friends that are girls. Guy friends are great, but there are things you can’t talk about with them. Mainly,

Yep, that pretty much sums it up.

Yep, that pretty much sums it up.

And other stuff. Plus her father…well he’s not in the best place to be a young girl’s companion. Mr. Woodhouse married when he was much older, as was often done. So he is first of all, much, much older than Emma. He also is a hypochondriac and is always getting anxious about things. This is hard for Emma as she always has to takes care of him, be cheerful so he can be cheerful, and abide by his rules (really fears). She loves her father, but he isn’t the everyday companion she needs.

Now what about people in the town? Well…Emma is friendless there too. You see at this time in England, there was a social hierarchy, and Emma is at the top.

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It is pretty sweet to be the first family and everything, but not so much in this situation. Everyone is kind or civil to her and she is invited to all the events, but unfortunately no one is her equal. So no one can be her real friend. Except Miss Taylor, who now is busy with her new life as Mrs. Weston.

The only friend she has now is Mr. Knightley [but more on him later].

So you see it is very easy how a smart girl, can become lonely and bored being by herself…

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Turning to meddling in other’s affairs, not only for amusement but for what I believe is a desire to have a connection to other people. To feel “a part of the group” and involved.

Now does this turn out well?

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You’ll just have to keep reading to find out!

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For more on Emma, go to One of a Kind

For more on Mr. Woodhouse, go to A Bit Pottery About Jane Austen

For more of my favorite songs, go to Let It Go