Being alone can suck.
And I’m not talking about being single or just having some fun by yourself, you know space away from people.
I’m talking about being lonely. As in no best friends or people you can really talk to or hangout with.
In fact, if we spend a lot of time alone we can start doing things that we don’t normally do,
And even going as far as doing things we didn’t think through.
Which really explains Emma’s character.
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.
Her governess gets married!
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.
“Her father and her were left to dine together, with no prospect of a third to cheer a long evening.”
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.
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.
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…
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?
You’ll just have to keep reading to find out!
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