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Episode 43: Jane Fairfax and Frank Churchill's Secret Engagement with Ellis @historian_ellis

What the Austen? podcast, Jane Austen Podcast, Jane Fairfax and Frank Churchill

In this episode we unravel the secrets of Jane Austen's classic novel, Emma, focusing on the often overlooked narrative of Jane Fairfax and Frank Churchill's clandestine engagement. Teaming up with Ellis from the Historian Ellis Blog, we chat about where the clues to Jane and Frank's secret engagement are concealed in the most unsuspecting places and our feelings about their relationship as a whole. Jane and Frank introduce a unique dynamic to Austen's tightly-knit village setting, their complex pasts adding a layer of mystery and speculation that's begging to be dissected. We delve deep into Frank's manipulative tactics and explore his motivations behind the oddly timed gift of a piano. We challenge you to consider the societal implications of their actions as we further examine Emma's opinion of women's roles and Frank's impropriety in engaging with other women while committed to Jane. As we venture into the complexities of Austen's narrative, we invite you to uncover the obscured truths and decipher the hidden meanings within her masterful storytelling for yourself. Leave no stone unturned and no secret engagement undiscovered! Thanks again to our sponsor Haus of Bennet: Use code whatthediscount at the checkout for 15% off! and you will also be supporting the Podcast 🤍

This podcast is about Janeites coming together, discussing Jane Austen's work, and having a few laughs along the way.

We really enjoyed making this episode and we hope you like it!

Please follow and subscribe to keep up with all the upcoming episodes. Where can you find Ellis? Instagram: @historian_ellis Hear El on the following podcast episodes: Episode 1 Episode 7 Episode 14



In today's episode we'll be discussing the secret engagement of Jane Fairfax in Frank Churchill in Emma's. So we're going to be looking at what signs and clues come up before the engagement is announced by Frank, kind of close to the end of the novel. Because I think this is just interesting. Like obviously, myself and a lot of people listening, We've read these books quite a few times now and so we already know all the spoilers, like we already know what's going to happen. So it's just interesting to go back and see. You know, were there clues earlier on that they were engaged? Where are they? And yeah, we thought that would be a fun topic. So joining me today is Ellis from the historian Elblog. So hi, Ellis, it's so good to have you back with me. You were the first ever person on my podcast, so I always love having you back on because it's just like you know memories. Thank you.


Hello. Yeah, it's so exciting to be back and I always get so excited for these. So, yeah, thank you for asking me back again. It is such an honor. Yeah, I've been really enjoying all the podcast episodes that have obviously come since our first one, so it's really exciting to be here. What, like a couple years later, I feel it's literally been. Yeah.


Yeah, it's going to be. I know it's mad, isn't it?


But yeah, really, really excited to be here and really excited to chat about this topic as well.


Yeah, absolutely, and total credit to you for this topic, because it was on one of your rereads that you were like we've got to talk about this. You know the signs of their engagement that happened before it's announced. So yeah, like you were rereading and you kind of said to me about this which I was like that's such a great topic, we definitely need to do that.


Yeah, yeah, yeah, no, definitely. So I think it was last year. I reread Emma. So I usually kind of pick a couple of Austin novels to reread again over the year and last year it was Emma's turn and I was reading through it and I think for some reason this time the story of Frank and Jane just really really jumped out at me and I just found myself in this reread completely kind of focusing on their story and I just find it super interesting and fascinating and I was like, right, exactly, I need to discuss this with. I need to discuss it with Izzy. So, no, you're very kindly said, yes, let's have a, let's have a chat about it and yeah, appreciate that, because I'm just going to use this to splurge all our ideas backwards to a point. So, and I hope it will be interesting for your listeners as well.


Yeah, absolutely, and I think Emma's a novel that's just full of such big characters like big personalities that I think sometimes it's easy. It's easy to kind of breathe past the whole Frank and Jane situation, like what's going on for them privately, because we are exposed to little bits of it which we're obviously we're going to talk about today, but it's easy to kind of glaze over them a little bit because there's so many other big characters who you know have so much going on, so and other relationships that kind of appear more significant because this one's so secretive. So yeah, I'm really excited to kind of chat about it.


Yeah, definitely, I 100% agree with that, because I think, right with you know, the Austin novels, all of them have got that kind of big pairing, that coupling that we're all kind of rooting for, you know, like Darcy and Elizabeth, and this case it's Knightley and Emma and that's kind of their story that we're all kind of looking for and rooting for and kind of brush everything else aside because we're like, you know, we need to make sure that Mr Knightley and Emma get together. So things like this kind of are, yeah, underneath the surface a little bit, and I actually think Emma is, honestly, is one of the best books written. To be honest, like obviously I'll always stand by pride and prejudice and what have you, but I think Emma is amazing and it is a real study in people, like you say, but kind of in a really, really clever way. And I was saying to you earlier, like the fact that you know this whole narrative is going on underneath. It is almost, like I described it to you as like a mystery novel, didn't I, where we're kind of trying to pick up clues and things like that, and I know a few people have also described it as that before. It really reminds me of like, I guess, the Christie novel or something like that, because it deals with like that classic scenario, sort of English village life. So you know, you've got like observations going on rumors, like the roles of people in the village, you've got like the stereotypes of the kind of people in the village as well, and everyone sort of has their place in. You know, in the society everyone's got their place. And you've got Emma up at the big house and you've got the bates it's down in town that everyone calls on and but yet there's kind of stuff bubbling beneath the surface. And in this case, you know, one of those things is Frank and Emma and, I'm sorry, frank and Jane, and it's actually really interesting how their story also kind of is weaving together everyone else's at the same time. So everything's kind of connected to everyone. Like you know, classic living in the country in England, I think your business is everyone's business so that hasn't changed certainly. But yeah, that's how kind of I started to view it, which was really, yeah, interesting to start to think about as I reread it last year.


Yeah, I really love what you've seen there as well. It's this, this idea that they're so close knit and that is the perfect setting for any like mystery novel. It's like I've it all set in a house or all set on a train, or it's all set in somewhere that's like so tight so that there can be so many layers and you're not getting distracted. Like pride and prejudice is so different that it spans across like so much of the UK because they're traveling all the time, whereas with Emma it's like you're just kind of in this very small town. And so, yeah, austin obviously is fantastic at creating these layers.


Yeah, I literally made a note about as well, the fact that you know she's very good at kind of usually sort of takes either maybe just one family or, like you say, it actually travels around the country, but here we've got a whole cast of characters in a village. Yeah, very much like kind of the like a Pluto board. Like an Agatha Christie novel. I was like reading the murder of Roger Ackroyd again the other week and actually it's a similar sort of setup where you've got these sort of these villages of people and yet all their business kind of intertwines in each other's business. And obviously there's no murder in this book. So it's fine. But it is just interesting that style of writing is something that's obviously appealed to a lot of people for a very long time and even though this isn't like a murder mystery book, that kind of setup is something that has kind of continued for many beautiful generations really.


Oh yeah, absolutely. And I think Jane and Franca really interesting characters in the sense that they've both left Highbury so everybody else is being kind of there forever. They've grown up there, like you know, they didn't never leave and they're kind of like these outsiders who come back, like they return to their place of origin and they've explored things, they've experienced things outside of the town, and that's very different than a lot of the other characters. And so when they come back, there's just like so much speculation and they both have like quite turbulent upbringings where they kind of live with other people, whether that's because they're orphaned, like Jane is, or you know, frank's mum dies and Mr Weston can't keep him, so he goes and lives with the Churchels and you know they've they've kind of had very complicated lives compared to somebody like Emma, and so then they come back in. There's all this secrecy and speculation about what's been going on. And something that I love that I noticed is, even before either of them come back, mr Weston's talking about Frank and the fact that he never returns to Highbury. Well, he's saying like he will come soon and everyone else is like yeah, we've been saying that for like it's a whole life. But he makes this quote where it says there are secrets in all families, you know, and I think, oh my gosh, isn't that such massive foreshadowing for the whole of Frank's story? From that point on, I love that.


That is actually such a good quote. Yeah, it is. It kind of sets the whole, the whole scene, doesn't it? And, as you say, they've kind of gone off and done stuff and they've come back to Highbury where everyone else has kind of been living the same life for years and years, and so to them, having Frank there and Jane there actually brings a bit of excitement to them as well and it will start to stir this, this tranquil pot that's just been kind of, yeah, sitting there for for years and I think, yeah, I love that quote you just brought up. Actually, and I think also someone else who's very good at kind of for telling what's going to happen is Mr Knightley as well. So he, during this kind of period in the book where there is a lot of focus on Jane and Frank, there's not too much of Mr Knightley in the narrative, but when he does come up he's like he's got some good, some good insights and some good observations of what is happening and he kind of mentions when they're talking about Frank and why he's not coming, and he very much kind of says you know it's, you know there's reasons why he's not visited. We kind of feel from Knightley that he he thinks that there's something suspicious going on with his character, and you know he's not altogether true. He kind of says, and Knightley calls him weak. He also says, you know, we hear of him forever at some watering place or another. A little while ago he was at Weymouth massive. There was a. You know this proves he can leave the Churchill. So all these kind of little discussions that are going on starts to sort of sit in our minds. But what is really important, though, is that actually, a lot of this is told from Emma's perspective. I think that's something that also, throughout this period as well, is a theme that is continually running. There's a lot of the reactions we get to what is happening and kind of the situation is from Emma's perspective, and it's really curb, because, although Jane Austen doesn't use the kind of you know, I said this or Emma thought this, she's still doing it kind of in the third person, but it is still very much as if Emma's telling the story, even though she actually isn't. It's really cover, and I think that's you have to take into account too, but that's just a kind of theme that goes throughout the this whole section of the book in particular.


No, I think that's a great point. I think Austen's very clever at making her narrative voices blend with the characters, like you see that a lot in North Anger with Henry Tilney. I think you see it in Emma, with both Emma and Mr Knightley at times. She's very skilled at that. It's really. It's a really good way to show without being like, because you don't then get caught off and you're like, oh, this is a obviously a bias perspective, because it's all coming from Emma, because she does it in this kind of third person. It comes through the narrative. You kind of get sucked into the story as well and you don't question things as much. You kind of get, you get drawn into into what Emma's thinking or what Mr Knightley's thinking that's a good way of putting it.


I literally put like several times you get kind of sucked into Emma's perspective of it in the kind of her, her feelings on stuff. So we do get, I think, definitely on why. That's why it's interesting to reread these novels, because obviously maybe the first time around maybe we have got sucked into sort of Emma's way of thinking. But when you kind of stand back a little bit because you know what happens, you can sort of start to think about the other characters and their perspectives as well. So that's really true, yeah.


So something that you mentioned just before and something that comes up multiple times within Emma is this topic of Waymeth. So it comes up a lot and a lot of clues to Jane and Frank's engagement can be found in the exchanges about Waymeth. So there's one that's pretty well. Basically they Austin talks about them being there separately, so we accept that they both being at Waymeth individual time. She doesn't explicitly say it, but we hear it from people like Mr Knightley that he was once at Waymeth or we hear that Jane had an encounter with Mr Dixon at Waymeth and then when Emma meets Jane, she confirms that they were there at the same time. So it says in the book she, referring to Jane Fairfax and Mr Churchill had been at Waymeth at the same time. It was known that they were a little acquainted. But not a syllable of real information could Emma procure. And so Jane's not giving up any details here, like when Emma's like grilling her, like what happened at Waymeth, what's Frank Churchill like? And Jane's just there, like obviously the running theme of Jane is that she's super reserved and she doesn't say anything. And Emma's like what, why are you not even just like? It's weird that you're not actually saying anything. But I love that it's actually early on, that it's confirmed that they've been in this place together and there's this whole notion of like what happens in Waymeth stays in Waymeth, nobody talks about it.


So we get lots of letters sent from Jane to Miss Bates, who loves to read them out, and I found this line in one of them, so, where she talks about you know why is Jane coming to Highbury now as well, because that's also kind of interesting too. And she says, you know, with regard to her not accompanying them to Ireland, her account to her aunt contained nothing but truth. There might be some truths not told, and that was like a massive indicator as well. So she's obviously you know she's holding something back.


Yeah, I feel like when you actually read it, and you read it with this viewpoint where you're looking for the clues, then you're like oh my gosh, it's so obvious. Like there's a point where Emma says, you know, there was probably something more to conceal than her own preference, like she's like there's probably Jane's probably hiding more than the fact that she just doesn't want to tell me something, but nobody digs any deeper. They're just like. This is clearly fishy, but that's okay. And that's just like a running a running issue where everyone's just accepting. And obviously there's another clue that I would figure out, like later on is in one of the letters Mrs Bates says that Jane caught a bad cold, poor thing, so long ago, is the 7th of November, and has never been well since A long time. Is it not for a cold to hang upon her? Yes, miss Bates, that is a long time. And it actually turns out later that they got engaged in October and so obviously by November Jane's like she's just like nothing's going on, nothing's happening here, there's no movement. And then this like this theme of her being sick just continues out throughout the whole novel, like Miss Bates talks about how she never eats any. Third and you know, I feel like there is like a romantic side is that you know where you can't eat or sleep because you're so in love with somebody, but it like passes over to like a toxicity where it's like you know she's, she's living in such uncertainty.


Yeah, which all this explorers would get on, because it does kind of build and build and build this tension between what's happening and yeah, but like you say, that was a massive indicator as well, like in the letter where she talks about her being ill from the 7th of November. And you're like, yeah, I wonder why, what happened around that time? And then, I think, literally a couple of chapters later, mr Weston then receives the letter from Frank Churchill to say he's he's going to come visit. And it's ridiculous because that is literally only a couple of chapters after Jane Fairfax arrives, I realized and we've literally we've been waiting as well the whole book for him to arrive and everyone keeps saying it's like, oh, suddenly everyone comes at once. You know, I mean, that's a bit of a bit of a coincidence.


I also noticed that it kind of confirms what Mr Knightley said, that Frank only ever goes somewhere if there's, you know, there's enough motive to do so. And isn't it interesting that he only arrives in a hybrid once Jane's there.


There's this bit where Frank kind of brings up like I think it's the Bates is, and he kind of pretends not to know their name and he's like, oh, is it Barnes, is it? Bates, who is it? I don't know. And then he says, oh well, I kind of, yeah, knew obviously Jane Fairfax, whatever in in way of. And he says, oh, you know, they are they in town. Maybe I should go and call on them, but he refuses to be like they're like oh, we'll take it, but he refuses to be escorted or directed by anyone sort of other than his father at this point. And then Emma says to him, you know like oh, she's really very elegant and what have you kind of like, did you think of her trying to again fish for information? And he sort of responds and just goes he agreed to it, but with so quiet yes, as inclined to almost doubt his real concurrence. That's sort of her perception of it. But obviously at this point he's probably starting to think about what kind of line is he going to take now throughout the whole visit.


Basically the situation when Frank declines to let Mr Woodhouse's servant kind of take him to, to that the reason he wants his father to take him is because his father's got business at the crown, and so it it's kind of clear what it's not clear when you look into it that he wants to go to the bases on his own. He doesn't want anybody like being there and Listen to the conversation. It's really interesting that that is Kind of his. His motive is that he wants to kind of be there on the right. And I really like what you said about the fact that Emma Try to fish for information, like what do you think of jay and fairfax basically, and he's Just really weird about it and it's just like yes, but I love what you said that he's trying to think about his line of narrative, nice, like how, how am I gonna approach this without making it obvious that I've got something going on? And I feel like he really leans on Emma, like whatever Emma suspects. He leans on that select. We see that later on with the Dixon situation and he just kind of Feels for what she's going for in, just kind of follows along what she's thinking.


Yeah, that's such a good point because, yeah, I think he really does. It kind of takes advantage of that, doesn't he? And that is it does become then really harsh to kind of everyone involved, including Emma as well, and I think, yeah, that's so important. So, soon as he kind of gets a feel for what am I yeah, thoughts are on Jane fairfax. Everything else he can really use up to his advantage, which he does, and that is a recurring theme throughout. But, yeah, that's such a good point and it's kind of continues like this idea of wanting to be able to spend time with Jane, but how does he do it? So when they go into town again and he's kind of discussing, he's asking about the crown and, you know, asking I do, do you have balls there and what have you? And I think that's actually such an important point, because a ball then, was probably one of the only sort of socially acceptable ways of young people being able to kind of Hang out like and talk to each other without it being spoken about. So it would have been a great way to sort of socialize and see Jane fairfax, you know, or or prove that he has nothing to do with them, be able to kind of Show that he can socialize with other people as well. So he can do both, so he can kind of spend some time with her without drawing too much attention, because you know it's a given that you'd want to do that at a ball or kind of show and give attention to other ladies at the time.


I love that. You know, I didn't. I mean, I did think, like obviously he's trying to find ways that everybody can come together, but that's so interesting and obviously a ball, so intimate as well, like it's a reason to Touch other people and sounds of it with the reason to be physical. Without being inappropriate.


Yeah, hold someone's hand, be close to them, have a private conversation when you're dancing, like it is such a good way of actually being intimate without being socially unacceptable.


That's such a great point that you that you brought that up. There's a really weird moment where obviously Frank goes away for a day to have his hair cut in London and everybody's a bit like that's a little bit strange. But people, just people just let him off for anything, so like it's okay, just want to fancy haircut and Actually having your hair cut in London apparently was kind of a thing back then. It was something that people did because it was like a luxury.


But if you get to talk about this because he's not really having his hair cut, or at least it's not the only thing that he's doing in London, yeah, so this is actually like, say, at first glance is a bit weird, but everyone lets him Like, get away with it, like you say, because I think he's just kind of the hero of hybrid at this point and everyone's like, oh, just entertain his, his whims and his he's need to be a lot more fashionable than us, basically. And so you've got this, this section, where the day before he's been hanging out with Emma and they went shopping. I think there's a really important bit in here, because they have a conversation when they're in the shop about Jane Fairfax is playing the piano. He starts to ask her about you know, what do you think of, you know what you think of her playing, and she kind of they kind of again discuss this reserve and he's actually really harsh and he's there, you know, like, oh, and then her is I could never attach myself to anyone so completely reserved. It is the most repulsive quality indeed, one kind of lover, reserved person. There is safety and reserve, but no attraction is so harsh. I know he's course Honestly yeah and so, and he'd also blatantly avoided a question from Emma. So she kind of said you know, how did you find her in way must? And he completely ignores and just goes up Well, isn't this the shop where everyone talks about? Let's go in? And they sort of go into the shop. So he's got time to sort of compose his thoughts. Yeah, then he starts stirring up the stuff about and you know gossip about Mr Dixon wanting Jane to play piano More than he asked his wife to play piano, and he'd always want Jane Fairfax to play instead of his own wife. And this encourages Emma to talk about her feelings regarding Jane, which are quite negative. So you've got this whole conversation which Frank Churchill has clearly directed, and the next morning Frank goes to London to have his hair cut. We know now that you know what he was probably doing organizing which we'll find out in a moment a piano to be delivered to Jane Fairfax. At this point no one knows that this is what's happening, and when it actually happens, again, no one knows. So we're kind of. Again, this is a spoiler, but based on yesterday's conversation, you suddenly realize how deliberate the timing is, because he has had his conversation with Emma. He knows as well that Emma has got so much influence over everyone and the way she thinks, and that's also why he probably has these conversations with her. The timing is deliberate he goes to London, has his hair cut, but instead he's ordering a piano To be sent to Jane Fairfax.


Which he can hide under this notion that it's Mr Dixon sending it's. Mr Dixon likes to hear Jane play, even though Mr Dixon's off an island.


Basically yes, so he's using them for his advantage and yeah, so he's gone to do that.


Here he returns, and then suddenly this piano arrives and it's all everyone's talking about, but there's no name attached to it so I think it's interesting because everybody's everyone accepts that it's a gift of love, but they can't work out whether or not it's like this kind of like paternal love or if it's Romantic love. And missing out is kind of a little bit more hot on it and he's like it's really impractical. This is a gift of somebody who's immature. I think he actually calls it a boyish scheme. He's like this is not a practical gift, that I don't think he can imagine Colonel Campbell sending something like this because I mean, they live in a time literally live in like a two bedroom Flat or something it's tiny, and obviously he's like look, whoever sent this is got no, it's just immature and it's just got no good judgment. That.


Which it exactly has, because then, so after this, you have this party at a family called the Coles and this is where it's then discussed that you've got kind of you can imagine this sort of Drawing a party and everyone's kind of whispering and talking to each other about it in conversations are overheard and the surprise that's arrived at the Bates is and they thought it'd been come from the campers and after this conversation we realized that Frank was actually standing near. She kind of looks and turns to him and she goes you know why do you smile, said she, and he's always. He just stood there like taking this all in, just being like this is absolutely hilarious. I'm the funniest person in the world and, yeah, it is actually quite self. I don't know. It's weird because Jane Fairbanks, she loves to play piano. So on one hand, you know he's done it because he he's done it for her in that respect, but also the way he's gone about it is really cruel as well, because it's going to get talked about. Everyone talks about each other's business in the hybrid and, as you say, it was completely impractical and so he's it's coming from high selfish place as well.


I think that's probably a perfect way to explain Frank in this situation. He almost shoe horns Jane into being so reserved and secretive about everything, but then he always drops these little hints or these or he kind of Teases people about them realizing like in the town and causes Like more speculation on what's going on, and I think it gets a real rise out of it and I think the piano thought he's a really good example of that, like he finds it funny that everybody Doesn't know the secret and yet the secret so important to him. It's something that he's asked for. You know, I don't not benefiting, jane.


No, it's not, and he's almost doing it to sort of rebel against the system, if that makes sense. He's kind of getting such a kick out the fact that he's been able to do something which doesn't fall in line with how you're supposed to act. He says at one point, like you say, it kind of comes across as this gift of love. And Frank actually says to Emma, he goes, they sort of say, well, he goes off her again, encourages her to talk about. It is actually Emma that says, oh, it's a gift of Mr Dixon. And he's like oh yeah, I, you know I now can see it in no other light than as an offering of love. And the narrative kind of goes there seemed no occasion to press the matter further. The conviction seemed real. He looked as if he felt it and that's because he actually is being truth on a way it is, and he's offering of his love. And you know, he makes it kind of really obvious that he's saying this to Emma. So he's being truthful. You know it's a complete act of love because it's come from him, but he's twisted it so much and it's just yeah.


And I think this whole, the whole idea that Emma gets caught up, that she's like there's obviously more to this. There's obviously some sort of love scheme going on. I know Emma's a bit obsessed with like matchmaking but she isn't wrong. Like her direction is wrong because she thinks it's Mr Dixon which is encouraged by Frank. But she knows there's some sort of romantic situation going on here because of all these hints in. Frank just plays on the fact that Emma thinks it's Mr Dixon and he just eggs it up and obviously those people think it's Mr Knightley. Mr Knightley is like I wouldn't give such a stupid gift.


Kind of get this other seed planted in our head with Knightley and Jane Fairfax, so again to misdirect the reader and to misdirect Emma. In a sense we kind of are Emma as the reader because we're the ones being directed by what's happening. And then you've got this conversation the next morning after this party and Emma bumps into Mrs Weston and Frank Churchill and this kind of interesting exchange happens where Mrs Weston sort of goes. You know, my companion tells me that I absolutely promised Miss Bates last night I would come this morning. And this was like Frank, was he saying oh yeah, you promised to go visit them. And he kind of makes out like, oh, I don't want to go, I don't want to go. And then Mrs Weston is like, oh, but you promised you'd accompany me and he's like, oh, fine, I'll come with you, like as if that wasn't your idea.


Yeah, this isn't on me.


Yeah, and then they go, and I think what happens is oh yeah, he then sends Mrs Weston out to go get Emma because, which leaves them alone again. He's supposed to be fixing, you know, the spectacular.


Mrs Bates's glasses yeah, they're broken.


Mrs Weston runs out to get Emma and leaves obviously them alone, other than this elderly lady who's there, and they then return and on their return Mrs Bates is asleep and Frank has not finished fixing the spectacular. Someone pulls him up on this because they're like should I take me to?


get Miss Bates is like why is it taking so long?


So again, another opportunity to be alone. And then. But then he teases Jane about the piano and says something about oh, how lovely it is to hear this tune. That made one happy if I mistake not, that was danced at Weymouth and she goes like bright red and starts playing something else. Emma obviously thinks that he's teasing her because it might be a song that her and Mr Dixon danced to, but I think obviously what he's saying there is you know, that was a song that they danced to, which is really lovely, but also again, just so on-called for in front of everyone.


Yeah, and he perfectly tries to make her feel uncomfortable at times. I don't know why he does it. It's very bizarre to you, me, but I think there's a really interesting thing when they walk into the room as well. I think the narrative states that him and Jane were set like quite close together. There's like these small moments where they are being intimate and everybody just brushes it aside and they just take it as normal. And I think again, like you said, because we see things from Emma's perspective, because Emma's not a massive fan of Jane, I don't think she would ever match Jane with anybody at all. If that makes sense, there's going to be nobody that she's going to match Jane with. She won't want to with Nightly, but she wouldn't want to with anyone because she only matches people that she likes. We move on a little bit further now and Frank doesn't know one of his disappearing acts, usually because he's called back by Mrs Churchill, who and there's actually a quote later on that I'll just bring up now, just because I think it's important is Emma makes this this kind of unconscious point that she says that the contrast between Mrs Churchill's importance in the world and Jane Fairfax has struck her. One was everything and the other nothing, and I think this is a perfect example of when that is the case. Obviously, we know that Jane is engaged to Frank, and yet it's Mrs Churchill that is Frank's total priority all the time, like it doesn't matter about Jane. That's why it's a secret in the first place, and so he leaves Highbury again to go to Mrs Churchill who's sick.


And there's this weird, strange goodbye as well he gives to Emma before he goes, where he sort of feels like he's on the edge of about to say something. She takes it as him wanting to say he's in love with you. Which again kind of yeah, has taken a whole different direction to what he's actually trying to say, and I feel like he was actually sort of on the cusp of wanting to tell her and complain about him and Jane Fairfax.


Yeah, he actually confirms that later on in the letter to Mrs West and he says, like I actually nearly told Emma like before I left that time. So in that moment when he's speaking to Emma about it, there's a really awkward moment where Emma's like, oh, you're not going to have time to see any of your friends, like the Bates is. And he's like, oh, I've already been there already. And then he checks himself because he's like, oh gosh, that sounds weird. He's like, oh, I just thought it was the right thing to do. And it's like okay, and Emma's like that's a bit strange. Like you made the effort to go to see the Bates. Is what? You're in a rush Like that's a bit strange.


That's such a good point. Yeah, it's really funny. And when the kind of whole idea of the ball is suggested to before he leaves, we get this weird line from Jane Fairfax as well, where she suddenly becomes really excited and not reserved and she's kind of like oh, miss Woodhouse, I hope nothing happens to prevent the ball. What a disappointment it would be. I do look forward to it. I own with great pleasure and it's like my blood.


You've not said like more than two or three, but yeah, he leaves and then you have the Elton's return, mrs Elton becomes a bit of a dilemma for Jane because she's very adamant about getting her a position as a governess or just any position, because she's like a woman in your position, jane, you need to have your life sorted out. And Jane says I am very serious in not wanting anything to be attempted for me at the present. She's really clear about this all the way through and everybody can see it. But Mrs Elton, who keeps kind of forcing Jane to try and sort something out, and I think maybe in general that's a little bit odd to us all, because Jane is in a position where she needs to find out what her next step is going to be. There isn't any clear sign that she's attached to anybody, and even if she was attached to Mr Dixon, he's already married, so that's not an option. So obviously being a governess is what most people think her next step is going to be, and yet she's so against. Mrs Elton, finding her employment is a little bit fishy.


Which, like you say, should be actually quite really fishy for people kind of looking on. Because, as a single woman and you're at that point in your life where apparently you don't have any interest from men, you've got no kind of marriage proposal. So what do you do? You need to be a governess, and that's sort of what I think the idea was in the first place of going to stay with the Campbells. I think they were trying to educate her to be able to do that. So the fact she's saying no and she'd rather stay with Miss Bates, who is obviously the kind of village sort of spinster and people look kindly on and she's kind of this house of charity, everyone's probably you know you should kind of think why would you want to stay in that position where your livelihood depends on the goodwill of other people? So yeah, that is such a major clue in terms of why you're moving on.


Yeah, I think so. And then following on from this we get this is actually one of my favorite, I don't know why it's. One of my favorite parts of Emma is the weird post office scene. I think it's because part of me just really loves, I really love John Knightley is just such a weird character, but obviously he's walking first thing in the morning, it's absolutely slatting it down with rain and he bumps into Jane Fairfax and he's like you know what you're doing out in the rain first thing in the morning. And then there's this whole that you can become the massive conversation like everything in hybrid does. If why Jane is going like out first thing in the morning to collect her post or post letters.


Yeah, it's so funny. I think I get why you say it's one of your favorite bits, because when you're reading it you're kind of, the more you're reading it, the more you're getting stressed out on James behalf, because, like, especially when you realize why she's doing it, because obviously she's doing it because she's you know, she must be writing to Frank and so she has to hide this from everyone. And it's really funny because, especially Mrs Elton, she just kind of keeps pressing her and pressing her and you're like, oh gosh, just leave her alone, it's your. Yeah, you actually do start to feel like really bad for her and everyone likes, everyone just wants a piece of it, and it's actually quite funny to read.


Yeah, exactly what I like about this as well is I feel like this is one of the moments where Jane isn't fully reserved. I feel like she's she actually confirms that the letters are a friendship, which obviously is enough to make everybody like who's the you know? But she's also like you know, I want to. It's obviously clear that whatever this letter of friendships about, she doesn't want other people reading them or taking them and obviously because if somebody took the envelope, it's a Frank church on everybody be like what is this? But yeah, it's just interesting and I think you made a point in one of our other episodes where you were like the importance of like people used to read letters, like it was a bit of a declaration or show like you read letters allowed. So it's interesting that she's so secretive about her letter writing.


Yes, especially when you've got the contrast of Miss Bates, who literally reads out every single letter she receives, you know, from Jane or whoever, and it's and there, yes, or is there is that contrast of character there where you've got someone so open and doesn't stop talking and then another person living in the same house who is completely reserved, doesn't talk about kind of her private life or what she's doing or she's been doing. So that is really interesting as well to have that contrast of characters almost living right next to each other.


I love in the 2009 version as well. There's like a moment where Jane comes back first thing in the morning with her letter and Miss Bates is like who's that from? And she's like, oh, it's from the Campbell's. And they're like she's like, oh, I'd love to read it. And she's like, no, maybe later, and walks off with the letter. I think that's like such a good ad to show like that this is. She's just Miss Bates, like the worst person that could possibly get hold of the letter.


Yeah, yeah, definitely yeah. So she's having to live in this household, which, yeah, it's just completely not ideal for her as well, but she's got nowhere else to go.


So another part with that letter as well, something that we find out later on, is that Mrs Westin got a letter from Francine that he was going to be returning soon, and when somebody asked Jane if the contents of the letter was positive, she says yes, like it's really great, it's good news, and so I think you can kind of align the fact that he's told Jane that he's coming back because it's not so long later that Mrs Westin says I got. I think Mr Westin turns up with a letter and he's read it, even though it's Mrs Westin's letter, and it says Frank's returning.


Yeah, and I remember, because Mrs Elton like calling him out on it or something.


He's like why are you reading someone else's letters?


Yeah, that's such a good point. I had noticed that actually, yeah, this time the fact that those letters are also received pretty close to each other. It's just yes, again such a clever, subtle clue. Yeah, really, really good.


Absolutely. Do you want to move on to when Frank then kind of returns, because I feel like at this point we start to get a lot of events coming in.


Quick concession yes yes, we have a few events that kind of happen, one after the other, where things do start to to build, don't they especially in in their relationship? And I think by this point there are a few kind of hints, but I think you probably could call on to that. Things are happening. So Frank arrives back and he kind of calls on Emma first of all. He's really agitated and he hurries away to make another call in Highbury. He's really restless, so he, and he doesn't see Emma, I think, for a while. He sort of goes to see her and then runs away straight away into Highbury. From that we can sort of say that he's obviously gone to maybe patch things up with with Jane if something's happening and he has to go away. And then you have the ball that actually takes place. And one thing, what? There's a couple of things that kind of was stood up for me about this. The first one is, I think, isn't there like a mix up with carriages in terms of who's going to be picking up? The Bates is and Miss Fairfax, I think the Elton's ended up sending one, but Frank was supposed to be providing for them, and yes, he's like so agitated.


There's actually a line that says Frank Churchill seemed to be on the watch. He's like hovering by the door. He's like really intense, like Emma's like why? Is he so like?


agitated about like everybody being here, yeah, and they arrive and he just sort of goes Miss Bates must not be forgotten and just rushes off to go to the sister. Oh gosh, so funny. We don't like get a lot of interaction between Jane and Frank. Actually in this bit we get a bit, but we sort of get told so what are the by other people, what?


he's doing. So there's a little bit in the ball section I think I looked at. This is another moment I really love because I really think it's really telling and it says that this is Emma's perspective. She saw Frank Churchill looking intently across the room at Miss Fairfax who was sitting exactly opposite, and there's a couple more lines. I'd probably just like bring in on that one because I think it's really interesting. And he says you know, thank you for alerting me that I was staring at Jane, basically, and he's. And then he, he does this thing that he does a lot where he'll be caught doing something nice, and then he has to like account for it and he's like oh, I've, it's James hair. It's such an unusual style. I've never seen anything so crazy. It must be of her own doing, which obviously it would be of her own doing. She doesn't have servants. He says. He uses a French term. I can't remember what the term is, but it basically means that it was really over exaggerated. The curls were, and I think he's being caught staring at, obviously because he's in love with her, but then he has to say something so nasty like in response. He could have just been like oh, I just admire in her hair. It's, you know, a different style. Like you know, it looks different than what everyone else has got. He didn't have to be so mean about it.


Yeah, or even just something. Like I was just lost in my thoughts or wasn't even looking at her, she was just kind of there like even just not even anything to do with her. But he's so brutal, isn't he, when he he tries to say yeah, say why he was doing something or why he was caught doing something, and it's just yeah, it's really harsh and not really nice. So you don't wonder why Emma gets to pick up on this and sort of says more than she ought to, really, especially to someone, especially at the start, when she doesn't even really know him that well, and she's kind of allowed and given the space to just sort of, yeah, not say very nice things about someone, when she is actually supposed to be the person that everyone looks up to, to keep everyone, you know, kind of civil and amiable, and she's the one that sets the tone of the situation. So it's not yeah, it's not.


I think the word she's there, tone is such a good point. Like maybe the fact that he's so mean is just a reflection, because he's like I'm speaking to Emma and Emma doesn't like Jane, so I need to say something. Mean because that's like how we are. And it's really weird as well, because he says to Emma he's like I'm gonna go and ask her if it's an Irish style and he goes up and he's like watch to see if she blushes. But then Emma makes a point of noting that he stands in front of Jane. So she's like I couldn't even notice if I wanted to, because you just stood right in front of her. Like it's so funny that Emma makes that note and she's just like I couldn't even see what her reaction is.


I know who. Such a good point. He's, yeah, really clever and such a I don't know. You kind of think, oh, it's really clever because he's doing his best to shield them and protect them, but he also does it, like you say, in such a horrible way. And this is constant conflict of yeah, I get it nice and a beam mean you're a horrible guy yeah.


I think it's immaturity. I feel like that's the only way to show it, because I don't think he's NOTHING like super, like I don't know he's. I don't seem like a full on villain, like somebody like Wickham or even Willoughby who, you know, leaves a lot of destruction in his wake, but I feel like Frank is just super immature and maybe a bit entitled and so behaves in a way that's just, you know, completely insane. I mean and I also I'm not a massive advocate for Jane Fairfax either, because, I put the way I see it is she's accepted the situation because, as we see from Miss Taylor later, mrs Western, you can have a really successful life as a governess. Okay, her plan B is not bad. This isn't a bad situation and I personally would take her plan B over being just respected by Frank constantly. I read an article in, although I didn't agree with a lot of the comments. It was by someone called Linda Hall. She made a note saying Jane and Frank, secret engagement and correspondence diminishes Jane Selfworth.


Yeah, yeah, I completely understand that. And there is this thing of, like her voice has been completely repressed and, as you say, we get these little bursts of it, like the post office situation, where she tries to sort of stand up for herself a bit and she just tried to stand up for herself with Mrs Elton when she's trying to press, you know, the situation of governess that she can provide for her. But at the same time, like I actually do have a bit of sympathy for her because I actually think that, whilst, yes, she could do a lot better at standing up for herself, her position is actually it's actually quite the precarious one because she has so throughout her life she's had no family, she's been obviously brought up by this other family and it's only through their goodwill that she's been able to have a really comfortable life. And then this guy comes along and she obviously falls in love with, but then he does sort of trap her into the secret engagement and it's how do you get out of that? You're so close to this glimpse of being able to be a woman, of having your own home, your own place to manage, of you know, having a standing in society, because Frank is, you know he's. He's been adopted by a wealthy family, he's from a good family in terms of the Western. So, being able to just have that glimpse of hope and being able to, I could have this kind of life. I could have a position where I'm respected over being a governess and again, kind of earning your keep and your life through the goodwill of others because you're relying on being placed with a good family and having a good income and also them treating you right and not having to rely on other people for your happiness and her being able to go and forge her own way with this person who she loves and, like, say, just have her own home and be comfortable and be safe and be provided for without having to feel like it could be all taken away from you at any moment. And so you kind of understand why she goes along with it in that respect, because when you have that glimpse of happiness, you do kind of hold on to that hope and also as a woman, she wouldn't have been able to have much, say I mean imagine like kind of coming out of that if anyone did find out about the engagement after after she'd said, after she'd broken it up herself. I think I mentioned before, maybe in a podcast with, like, I think, with my Edward Ferris, and how he had to break the engagement up because as a woman that would have been really bad if you're standing in your reputation. But although this was secret, again, if anyone did find out then she would probably be looked upon as not being great because she's already broken up one engagement, so it doesn't look good for her.


She benefits from it being a secret already. You know, I mean it's like already secret so she can end it herself. But then I'm also like why didn't she just go to Ireland then? Like she could have gone to Ireland staying with the camp the campers didn't push her out. They were like home with us and she could have met somebody else Like I don't know.


I couldn't sacrifice, but love lines, you, doesn't it, I guess, in that respect. So it must have done for her and she must have seen this life that she could have had, and for her it was enough to take the risk. So, and the fact that she's taking that risk is actually quite a big deal as well. So I get it from both sides, because I don't think she stands up enough herself. But I also see that she sees a chance of happiness that she tries to kind of take hold of, but it does turn toxic as well.


So so I saw I was reading a Reddit post and people talking about this because somebody asked, like why is it such a big deal that it's a secret or that they're even engaged or anything. Apparently, the reason it's such a big deal is if it being secretive is because engagements were between families, not just couples, and so it's to keep it a secret from your family. It kind of puts them in shame. That they've this is like you know, something they've not been open about. So I thought that's really interesting and I think maybe speaks to the fact that neither of them are very placed within their families. Like they've both got these like adoptive families and I feel like they don't have the same regard is like someone like Emma would have, where you know her and Mr Knightley have to like conjure up a scheme on how they're going to tell Mr Woodhouse it's such a good point about the fact that both of them are like adopted families as well, technically, even though it is slightly different.


I'd never thought about that sort of similarity before. So that's, yeah, that's so true, and obviously the fact that, yeah, he's from quite, he's adopted into quite a wealthy family, means it would become such a big deal. Yeah, exactly, exactly, yeah, so we kind of have, yeah, the ball which we sort of discuss, and you kind of got the end of this, this scene, and he's kind of I think it ends the ball where he's sort of he helps. The Bates is kind of out of the ball. You get this monologue from Miss Bates and in the little monologue you kind of hear her saying thank you to Frank Churchill, and oh gosh, you've got Jane on one arm and me on the other and oh, we talk about what her name is, frank Churchill, which I just think is interesting Anyway. And then you've got this little bit after the ball, before they go to Fox Hill and Donwell, where Knightley begins to suspect what's happening, so he begins to notice these looks that are happening between them. And there's this again. It goes back to this clue of a different letter where I think Frank brings up this thing Mr Perry, yeah, the doctor saying, oh, wasn't he gonna, does it something to this carriage? Or something like that. And he was like, oh, I'm sure you told me, mrs Weston, in one of your letters. And she says, no, I don't know what you're talking about, like it wasn't me, maybe I did. And he's there like, oh well, I think about it as high degree when I'm away, so maybe I'm just dreaming it and then I think it.


Maybe it's a dream.


I don't know Like what kind of weird dreams. If that's all you're dreaming about, like you're dreaming about Mr Perry, I think they kind of say how weird that is, and then Miss Bates puts her foot in it and kind of goes oh Jane, don't you remember grandma was telling us of it when we got home that time. So she kind of puts her foot in it there.


When she's saying about it, like she actually is very clear, and she says I don't know how, like you would have heard about it, because it's quite a secret. Or and she says, like you know, nobody but us and the Coles knew about it, like we didn't tell a soul, and so it's a bit like well, how would he know?


And he's like, oh, it's my dreams Like like he's some sort of psychic. Yeah, I found the dream thing really funny. Yeah, so, which shows again the fact that it's linked to being told to him in a letter, not just in person, potentially kind of links back to that whole scene with, you know, jane Fairfax's secret letters that she was sending. But anyway, yeah, so you have that. And Mr Knight, he notices, he kind of watches this whole conversation and then he notices Frank Churchill trying to catch Jane's eye afterwards Like constantly, but she doesn't, she doesn't give it to him, and they go into the house at Hartfield and they, you know, frank suggests playing with like alphabet letters.


Yeah, alphabet, squares or something.




I never played this game myself, but it's clearly something.


Yeah, the sort of Regency game that kids used to play.


And it makes me think about like on my fridge I have like letters and I like make words and sentences out of them.


Yeah, like the precursor to Scrabble or something. Yeah, regency version of Scrabble, and they're playing with the letters, I think. Then the word blunder is put on the table, isn't it? And that's Frank putting that towards, towards Jane saying the word was blunder. There was a blush on James cheek. Mr Knightley connected it with the dream so privative of himself yeah, I got it. And all nightly to think about basically was the fact that there's this disingenuous double dealing which seemed to meet him at every turn. And at this point Knightley is actually worried about Emma because he thinks that there's something going on between Frank and Jane Fairfax and he's worried about the fact that Emma has been kind of, yeah, there's a double dealing being going on and he starts to realise that Frank has been using her. So, yeah, you have that thing about blunder. And then you got the next word put forward Emma and Frank kind of giggling together and they put forward the letters Dixon and Jane. She kind of yeah, she was evidently displeased, looked up and, seeing herself watched, blushed more deeply than he could ever have perceived it.


So, yeah, Okay, this is something I really want to talk about, because we know that Emma and Frank have been like speculating about her and Mr Dixon, but they've never said that to you, jane, in person. So I wonder whether Frank said oh, it's so funny, emma thinks that you've got something going on with Mr Dixon I'm just going to play on that. Like he's wrote that in a letter to Jane and they've talked about it, and so she's so upset because she's like stop like having these inside jokes with Emma about me. It's like not funny, because I'm like otherwise, why would it be so offensive to her?


Yeah, exactly, it's almost they might have had a conversation before. You know, we can imagine all sorts of conversations they might or could have had and you know she could have said to him yeah, you need to stop bringing that up because it's really embarrassing and the fact that they just did that so publicly. And everyone as well kind of knows the story of the fact that she was with the Campbells and her friend obviously married Mr Dixon and, if you know, other people can start to get ideas as well. It's not just Emma and Frank and that's not fair on Jane.


The way I see it, as well as worse than exposing a secret engagement, like trying to pretend like she had something going on with like a guy who was engaged to you know, one of her closest friends. That's fair, Like that's the opposite of you. I just think it's so rude and also it's so embarrassing because Harriet's like can Mr Knightley help me figure out what the words say?


And it's like you know you've only got this two, these two kind of things going on, and then you just got Harriet sat there like someone help me.


It's so embarrassing.


It is really embarrassing but also kind of shows like there's just how I know just how good this book is and how timeless it is. All these things going into it. All this kind of juicy narrative, like it's the kind of thing that you would still read about today.


Absolutely, and I think you're so right. It's like at this moment where Mr Knightley this is when he takes Emma aside and he says to like I've noticed these expressive looks you know, I'm things that I'm thinking are meant to be public and I love in the 2009 version. They say secretive looks. They're like I see some secret looks and then Emma's like secret looks. Like what is this? This is so weird. And he's like do you really understand the degree of acquaintance between the gentleman and lady that you share this joke with? And I think, like you said, like he's looking out for Emma because he's like you think Jane's the butt of the joke. But I'm concerned, you are, and he's right, he actually is.


That's really interesting as well. Yeah, so they're focusing on on Jane Fairfax being the joke, but from his perspective he can now see that actually Emma is becoming the joke and he's trying to work out. You know, is Jane Fairfax part of this or not, in terms of the kind of jokes themselves? Are they doing it together or is it kind of just Frank doing that? But yeah, that's a really interesting point as well.


Yeah, I think it's interesting and I feel like at this point obviously he upsets Jane there, but this is a pun that's about to start boiling over, because I think he gets so reckless in like what he's doing towards Jane, like the letters the first instance, and I think, because he seems to be able to wash that off, he becomes more reckless as like his behavior and obviously we move on to I think that the next thing is a Box Hill, the next moment.


They have a visit to Donwell. I think the idea of Box Hill is put forward and I think they end up going to Donwell first because they can't go to Box Hill and they have the arguments. Yeah. So on both these scenes I kind of take them both as it's beginning to kind of get to the climax of their sort of relationship. And what is really clever about both these events is you do really begin to feel the growing tension and anxiety now beginning to realize that there's something going on between Jane and Frank. And also what's really interesting is that this is now happening in the summer and the kind of heat and the atmosphere of it is used to make it more tense. Like when you're reading these scenes you yourself feel kind of like hot and stressed because they're both happening on like really hot summer days and it helps kind of build the agitation and the yeah, and I think everyone in the group is starting to feel kind of. Everyone's in hot water, hot and bothered and it just kind of reflect then how like Jane and Frank are feeling too. So you've got this really tense, hot bubbling atmosphere, like you say, and this kind of happens. Yeah, I love the.


Donwells strawberry picking thing. I love this moment because I think it's one where Jane's really vulnerable to Emma, but Emma doesn't quite see why, like she can't place what's going on, but Jane is. I mean, I'll let you pull some bits from this, but yeah, this moment when Jane's just really vulnerable and she's basically asking for help, I think she's like crying out for help but she knows nobody can help her.


Yeah, completely agree, and I think it's one of the most interesting scenes for me actually. So you first, they arrive at Donwell and everyone's kind of doing their thing and what have you. But it gets to the point where Jane decides to seek Emma out to say that she's leaving and is like you know, why are you leaving? Don't be walking back on your own. It's hot and it's 20 minute walk. You'll be doing that. But she kind of responds to her and just goes. I am fatigued, but it is not the sort of fatigue you know. Quick walking will refresh me. Ms Woodhouse, we all know at times what it is to be wearied in spirits. Mine, I confess, are exhausted. I just think that's such, like you say, a cry for help and so upsetting as well. And Emma's trying to work out yeah, why she suddenly said this to me and she leaves and you have Frank arriving pretty much soon after and he's really hot and agitated and it's just really stressful to read and it's like you know, the heat was excessive, he'd never experienced anything like it, and he goes, you know, talking about the party, sort of like. Why is everyone wandering around? I met one as I came, madness, in such weather, and he's just kind of talking about how he's like. He's sick of England, he wants to go away.


I'm going to go abroad. I'm going to go abroad.


I just forget all my problems, don't be all. And um, yeah, so he's met, obviously, jane on the way and what has actually happened is they've you know, they've had an argument and he's clearly frustrated with Jane in this, yeah, in this at this point.


I think what we, what we can surmise from the letter later on, is that at this point, jane just said like that's it, I've had enough, like I can't make it anymore, like it's too much for me. Um, in, what I love in this moment is that Emma's like when she recognized, like how agitated and angry is, she's like thank God, I'm not in love with him because they were crazy.


She's like oh, she's quite glad I didn't feel anything for him because I couldn't be able to deal with this, and she just kind of like, just just eat some food. And he's like I don't buy any food.


I know he's so, he's so grumpy at this point, but then I think he I mean just like Frank he bounces back when she's saying you know, we're all going to go on this trip to Box Hill and he's like, oh okay, yeah, we'll do that. I think he wants Emma back on his good side because he uses Emma as this, like person he can flirt with. And well, I think now he's like obviously I don't think he plans his revenge plot, but he's thinking you know, well, if Jane's going to not be with me, then I'll do whatever I want.


Yeah, that is really true and what I kind of like about finding on this bit on Donwell as well, you've you've got quite a contrast between obviously Frank Churchill and then Mr John is obviously the owner of Donwell and he's very kind of calm and accommodating and sort of you know, helping people and talking to Harriet and things like that. And I remember in a university seminar a while back we were actually talking about I used to love it when we used to get to talk about Jane Austen and I remember my tutor kind of saying this whole idea we're talking about this idea of anxiety and facades and you know things kind of reflecting like Jane Austen's idea of what someone kind of good should look like. And Donwell Abbey we're saying like even the name Donwell is like done well, like it's just it's this, it's this image of kind of perfection and calmness and it's how things should be. And it reflects, you know, austen's opinion of how you know something should look, how your facade should look, and you've got this contrast between you know Frank Churchill who was hot and bothered and stressed, and you've got Mr Nightly who was this calm gentleman of how you should act basically at this point that was just kind of like a little sign.


No, no, I think names in Emma are really important, like if you think about Hartfield and the fact that Emma is like obsessed with much making people. Yeah, I think names are super important. I don't think Jane Austen ever puts useless information out there, like everything that she does is strategic. She does it for a reason and, yeah, I think that's probably definitely the case and I think all the way through, like Mr Nightly is always saying, like the way that Frank's behaving even him not visiting his father it's not proper, like it's not, this isn't gentleman behavior and yeah, I think, well, mr Nightly holds on to this for the whole of the book. You know he feels this way throughout. In fact, in the end, he's like. You know, I feel bad for Jane Fairfax. She could do much better.


Yeah he does. Yeah, yeah, I think a lot of people actually feel like that as well. But yeah, we can discuss that at the end. But yeah, that's, yeah, that's such an interesting point, and so I love looking into sort of the names and, like you say, she never says anything without a reason, which is why these podcasts are so fun, because we can get to chat about our ideas about them as well. So, yeah, I mean, that's kind of all I had sort of on that scene before I move on to Box Hill. I don't know if you had anything.


No, I don't have anything else to add. I think moving on to Box Hill would be good, because at this point I think obviously Jane's already said that she's pretty much done but she's not ended the engagement. But obviously the actions of Box Hill and Frank just being an absolute douche is what kind of is the final nail in the coughing for her, I think, and obviously leads her to accept the governor's position.


Yeah, definitely so they go. They go to Box Hill. It's another trip that they take with everyone and again it's a really hot stress on day, kind of again reflecting you know the way they're reflecting everyone's feelings. And there's. I think they've just sort of got there and it's really funny because Emma sort of what's not her saying it, but it's from her kind of perspective and Austin kind of writes. At first it was downright dullness to Emma. She had never seen Frank Churchill so stupid and silent. Something's clearly up here and it's just the whole thing just really awkward. I do actually quite like it in the 2020 film version, but because they're all sort of sat it just for me, I can you can really feel that tension when they're all sat there. They kind of do it well in all the versions really, but everyone sort of sat there in silence. They're all looking at each other. They're really not to say like Jane Fairfax is looking miserable at us. Then, yeah, like you say, frank just kind of goes off on one, doesn't he as almost as if he's got nothing to lose, and he starts to sort of engage Emma in these sort of silly discussions and really embarrassing and awkward discussion.


So again really immature topics as well, where he's like oh, you could pick a Y for me and I like I know I'd like anyone that you choose.


Yeah, so they're kind of whispering and then he's like shouting as well, and they're doing that together and he sort of says you know, our companions are excessively stupid, what should we do to arouse them? They managed to insult Miss Bates. They played the silly kind of conundrum game.


There's a weird moment as well where he says about Mr and Mrs Elton's attachment and it's like, oh, how lucky they were to find each other on such a small attachment in a public place or something like that. And I think that's so interesting because he's basically talking about his and Jane's how they met.


Yes, and then she actually responds and he so he kind of says how many a man has committed himself on a short acquaintance and rude it for the rest of his life. And Miss Fairfax, she then kind of responds, she starts to talk and then kind of gets interrupted by a cough, but then she carries on stronger and she sort of ends with saying you know, such unfortunate circumstances do sometimes occur both to men and women, but I cannot imagine them to be very frequent and he sort of kind of bows and that's it parts, and it's just like, oh, something's been said in this exchange. There's a lot more to it than that as well.


I don't know if you had anything on that as well, but I just love that she responds because, honestly, I mean, nothing irritates me more than some of the characters where they're like really passive and don't fight back. It really irritates me, but I love that Jane. At this moment she's like you know what? No, like don't. But also don't belittle what we had either. Okay, it's one thing being like see if this isn't going to work out any further, but don't belittle what we had and start being cruel about it or saying that people that make attachments and short acquaintances there's something wrong with them or their relationship. It's like this is between us and let's respect what we had, even if it's not going to go any further.


Yeah, and you know, they've obviously probably had those conversations in the past where he might have reassured her about that. And now he's saying you know something like this again. It's all fictional in my head at this point, but you know we can kind of imagine what went on. And then what I find really awkward is the timing, because you said a moment ago. When he says to Emma to choose him a wife, and he asks her to do that straight after this conversation, he's had the Jane. Like how mean is that? Like he's just had this conversation with Jane and kind of just sort of like left it, and then he's like oh, emma, find me a wife.


Yeah which is so rude and immature. Oh my gosh, can you imagine, like, who says something like that, like that's like so childish, like it's something that you do in high school where you just be like why don't you find me a partner Like who do you think could be best? I just always blow my mind sometimes, honestly.


Yeah, yeah, it's just yeah when you, the timing of these things happening is just again, really clever writing on Jane Austen's part, but also really infuriating when you're following the character. It's because and it does, yeah, it kind of shows what person he is. But yeah, everyone they sort of disperse, don't they? After everyone's upset each other and they sort of walk off and their day ends and Emma's tears and yeah, I don't know if you had anything else to add.


Not really. I mean, I think everybody, everybody goes, and obviously I think the fact that they upset Miss Bates is just a no the thing on Jane's heart, because she's just like, and also I kind of feel bad for Emma because Emma doesn't know what's going on, like she doesn't know that they've got an attachment and obviously when she finds out later she's like, oh my gosh, how embarrassing because of my behavior. But Jane naturally is, is obviously annoyed at both of them and I also think that the reason she doesn't want to be around Emma is because she's not so much annoyed that Emma said the mean things to Miss Bates. I think it's because she thinks that there's something going on with Frank. And why would you want to be around somebody that you is potentially a threat to you, who's in a much better position to you, like you know? I mean like if you're going to compare Jane and Emma in terms of you know who's the better catch, emma on paper is the better catch, and so, yeah, I think she's just like you wouldn't want to be. The same way as Emma doesn't like to be compared to Jane Fairfax, I'm sure Jane Fairfax doesn't want to be compared to Emma. Yeah, they both lack what the other has.


Yeah, you can't help in that situation but feel jealous or just yeah, just not wanting to be around that person. You know, especially when you can't act, you know freely with Frank Churchill and you see someone else sort of having a laugh and a joke and being able to chat to him, and no one thinks anything of it. Because Emma's in that position where, like you say, she's the sort of the social butterfly of high reason. She's able to go and speak to whoever she wants, to wherever she wants, and even if there isn't an attachment between Frank and Emma, it's not even that weird that they're talking or having a bit of a laugh. I mean, everyone does start to think that there should be something between them and, like you say, nathalie's worried about her falling in love and obviously the westerns want that to happen. But it would be upsetting for Jane to watch them being able to talk freely and actually caught openly, even if they're not courting. And that's something that she wasn't able to do. She wasn't able to enjoy that bit before being able to, yeah, court him and have people kind of look on them and be like, oh, isn't it wonderful that they're together. She'll never have that, she never got that and yeah, the day sort of ends, and then I think Jane avoids Emma. For the rest, Jane just then avoids Emma. For the rest, yeah, and so Emma visits the Bates, I think to sort of make amends to what happened, because you know Nathalie has words with her and things like that she realises where she's kind of gone wrong. She goes to visit them often, but Jane is always unwell and she has decided to actually take up the position of governess. You know, nearby Maple Grove, Maple Grove, we all know about Maple Grove. But we find out. What's interesting is the timing of that as well. So we find out that Frank has left for Richmond again, which is where his family is staying before tea, and after tea Jane confirms she would be governess. Yeah, absolutely so it's sort of like he's gone. Like you said, it's that thing of no matter what. His family has obviously still come first over Jane and because she's been like, right at this point you probably needed to step up for me. He didn't do it, he left. They haven't sorted out their differences, so she's just gone off on her own and been like you know what? I'm just going to be a governess.


I don't know if I'm making this up, but I feel like he says that he receives a letter and everybody like assumes it's something to do with Mrs Churchill. But then we also get confirmation from Miss Bates that Jane's been writing letters all morning and she's been crying and she's like I don't know why she's crying.


She should be happy. Yeah, yeah, which, yeah, so again she's probably 100% been like, no, not having it anymore, and yeah, so she's on. So then she doesn't see anyone, she won't see Emma, and then doesn't Emma go off to. She just called to see if she's all right, like to go call on her, and they said, oh, jane's on, well, and she walks back and she's like she's, she's Jane, just like running around the bed.


Yeah, she's just on a daily. She's like oh my gosh, she's. She's actually on a walk. I love her. I think that's so funny. And Emma's just like okay, I need to take the hint that this is a personal thing.


This is she's all well this is she doesn't want to see me. She doesn't want to see me. Yeah, I think she she understands, but from a different perspective because she knows she's maybe not given the attention that Jane Fairfax could have maybe got from her. Yeah, she could have maybe been more of a friend, but judgment kind of clouds and jealousies kind of cloud and the whole situation. They're both maybe suffering in a different way, they've both been hurt in a different way not necessarily Emma, but she's been played.


Yeah, and you can't just expect people to be friends just because they're of the same, like the same age, or you know what it's, just not that's not really how it works.


She has a point with that, yeah, like she has a genuine point with that. Too fair You've got force of friendship just because you're the same age.


Exactly, emma chooses her friends. Who, the ones that she? She'd rather be friends with? Harriet? I don't think it's. I think Emma's necessarily saying like oh, I don't want to be friends with Jane Fairfax, because I'm above Jane Fairfax. She, emma, is friends with Harriet who, for all intents and purposes, is in a similar situation to Jane Fairfax. She just probably just doesn't want to be a friend. She probably stick here and about. Why would you want to spend time with someone that you spent your entire life hearing like just praise about? how amazing, how accomplished they are, like you just be like oh God, I don't want to spend it Like it's enough to hear about it.


I don't want to see it every day. Yeah, yeah, exactly so. Yeah, I kind of, yeah, I read that, but yes, it ends in that, and then, yeah, we sort of get that, mrs Churchill dies.


Yes, I love the point of it. I asked him maybe she's like everybody's talked ill of Mrs Churchill for the entire novel, but now she was like and now everybody's been positive about it because she's dead.


Yeah, these little funny, funny lines that come up. It's like is it in sense sensibility where someone says, oh, does everyone like when there's an annuity to be paid to someone, they live forever, or something like that Funny sense that?


whenever people live forever, when there's annuity to be paid, yeah, yeah. Yeah, so it's so funny. Yeah, I love these little like comments on society.


It's brilliant, but then this is pretty much it.


I mean I do want to spend too much time on the revelation, just because we all know what the revelation is that obviously they're engaged in In talking through it. We've talked a lot about like what was what's explained as being the case, like looking back. But I think what everybody's a little bit like disturbed about is that obviously James now I don't know if you know this, but I'm always confused of why it's such a big deal that James accepted the position and then obviously can't take it anymore. Like why is that such? Is that it's just like a I don't know like a morals thing because she signed a contract, I'm not sure. Like for me, I'm just like I don't know why everybody gets so hot on the fact that it's like, oh my gosh, she signed this thing and now she can't do it anymore. Like I'm kind of confused why that's such a big deal. Like they can just find another governor, yeah.


Yeah, something I've not thought about. I mean, I don't know whether it's, because obviously it was sort of Mrs Elton that got it for her and so she's gone out of her way to use her connections and get this good position for her. So it could be to do with that.


So, because someone else is involved, if that makes sense, and yeah and I think Frank goes and find James somewhere, like I don't know for sure, I can't really remember, but I think he goes and like find her somewhere and it all comes out and Frank's like traveling around all over the place and now he doesn't need Mrs Churchill's permission, he just goes and asks Mr Churchill because he's apparently like a really soft, kind guy and he was just like, yeah, he'll say yes, and Frank's like traveling all around the country because they were in like North Yorkshire and now they're somewhere else.


It's all like just a bit weird, like Frank's just trying to tie up all these loose ends Just imagine him just riding around. They're trying to sort everything Really really dramatically.


And then he tells the Westerns that he's obviously engaged to Jane Fairfax and he all just kind of comes out. But I don't know if you want to add anything particular about it all.


So I think Emma is called to go and see Mrs Western and they're all like, oh, come in, come in, and Mr Western's like I'll leave you to it sort of thing, and it's really really sort of upset about it, agitated because at this point they are upset because they think that Emma has formed an attachment to Frank Churchill. So they are worried that she's going to be really upset when she hears about it because obviously as much as Frank is his son, I think Emma is almost like a sort of second daughter to them as well. So Mrs Western tells Emma, or us really, of Frank and Jane's engagement. She says there's been a solid engagement between them since October, formed at. Weymouth and yeah. So then Emma convinces her that there was there's no love lost between them. She didn't have that attachment, and they're really relieved and they kind of talk about then how bad it was to for Jane to have to deal with it, because Emma talks about how she would have had to have witnessed all of what's happened. She starts to reflect, obviously, her part on it and I really like this, this quote that Emma says actually, because I think it's it's pretty kind of. You know, you want to be like, yeah, yes, Emma, you say how it is kind of thing and she goes you know what right had he to endeavor to please, as he certainly did, to hang on? I can't even what did I write there? My handwriting is awful, what does that?


say Hang on, I have to find the book. No, no, that's fine. No, no, yeah for sure. No, you look for it, that's okay. I'm just there's a quote.


I want to find out as well where they talk about this Right here it is Got it Okay. So, yeah, emma says this quote, which I think is is pretty cool, and she sort of goes what right had he to endeavor to please, as he certainly did, to distinguish, to distinguish any one young woman with with preserving attention, as he certainly did, while he really belonged to another, which I think is really strong? She sits there and she goes. You know, what right had he to do this? What right had he to mess with one person, whilst clearly, yeah, yeah, and I think Frank tries to go on to someone else.


Yeah, I think Frank tries to justify it later, where he's like I would never have done it if I wasn't a short. I wasn't sure that Miss Woodhouse was just being flirtatious and playful as well, like if I knew that she was attached to me I wouldn't have done it, but I'm like that's still a risky game. That's still a risky game to play.


Yeah, yeah, and it's something like I think a lot of people will probably feel today. You know, when you hear of these, you know really awful situations where it happens, you know what right had that person to mess around someone else when you are, you know, committed to someone else, it's, it's yeah, she kind of stands up for herself and Jane in that sentence, which I really like because she's actually kind of put them together in the sense that you know, she can see that Jane suffered and also she's been a part of this as well, and she's kind of said how dare he kind of use me?


what right?


had he to mess around with me and Jane Fairfax and you know, and how could she bear such behavior?


Yes, and I think Jane herself, like, says later on that she's, you know, went against everything in her character to do this, to be secretive, and there's a line that said the misery of what she had suffered during the concealment of so many months. So she's she's suffering and she's miserable. I mean this is why, obviously, part of me is like I don't really understand why he'd even do it. But she loves Frankie enough to go against her character and conceal and be secretive about all of this, and I mean he's asked a lot of her and he was awful to her. I mean I think that's probably why everybody's so amazed in the end that they end up together, because it's like what? Why?


Yeah, yeah, exactly. And I think there's also this comment that Emma makes as well, where she kind of comments and sort of like women and their sort of role and place at this point and I think it's very interesting, and she sort of says, and she says feelingly you know, if a woman can ever be excused for thinking only of herself, it is in a situation like Jane Fairfax it is, of such one may almost say that the world is not theirs, nor the world's law. I think she's really realising like if there was ever a time for a woman to stand up for herself, it's then because it is really not fair to be, yeah, messed around by a man who and used, who should be actually there to take care of you, and yeah.


I mean, that's probably. That's probably the thing. I probably take it from the stance of like. I see it from the same position as Emma, as I'm like I don't know why you'd ever let somebody treat you that way, like you not just stand up and be like I'm sorry. No, any situation is better than this situation. I don't want to be disrespected.


Yeah, yeah, it's like.


This is a moment where life is on the podcast. Stand up, do not take any of this rubbish. Yeah you cannot rely on men.


No, it's not a situation. The independent like the original feminist, emma Woodhouse.


Literally. No, I think she's got such a great point Like it's, I wouldn't be dealing with it, that's for sure. But yeah, and that's pretty much everything at that point, isn't it? It's all wrapped up. They end up, you know, I think everybody's a little bit like maybe they're not going to have the happiest of marriages because, you know, she's got all the merit. I think someone said, like she's got all the merits and he's got the money is basically the situation.


It's not the greatest start. Is it a married life having to deal with all of that? And then suddenly you're married and it's like okay, you've just been living your life as a secret and you're like how do I transition from that into normality now? What does our relationship even look like to even know each other?


And also, I know that you can lie really well- yeah, indeed, like a real intense gaslight and just doing like weird stuff, I mean yeah, I mean if he could do that when it was a secret and he knew that she was like suffering and he could do, I mean God knows what he can do when it's all out in the open. I mean I think Emma makes the point of saying like he needs to treat her well, because I think Emma's a little bit like I don't think he's going to yeah, I think that marriage could quite quickly turn into a, into a Bronte novel after being an Austin novel.


It's been like 10 years of Marvel. But yeah, it's such a complex situation and I say there's so many different sides to it in terms of, you know, should she have stood up for herself more or was she trapped in a position? You know, what was Frank Churchill's role in all of this? What was going on in his life? What was going on in Jane's life? There's so many different complexities and relationships within the whole situation, which is why it just makes that narrative so interesting and it sort of runs throughout sort of the middle, towards the end of the book, but it draws so many other people into their situation. They try to keep this a secret and actually it's meant that everyone's got involved and a lot of people have got hurt and yeah, it's just super interesting and just shows how how much can go on in a little village in the room somewhere.


It's just kind of crazy. You know, all these secrets, everything's getting entangled, it's all a bit, it's all a bit mental, for sure. Yeah, yeah, no, I think that was great. I really enjoyed this. Anything else that you want to add on this, or is that everything?


I think we've come to so much. It's just been like so much fun, literally being like an hour and 50 like this is like the longest episode ever. The longest episode ever. But yeah, I'm sorry I ran all done, but this is, yeah, it's just. I just find it really. There's just so much stuff to find and it was just pretty interesting as well talking, you know, to you about your thoughts, because I think you know you picked up on stuff that I hadn't even thought about and you know, maybe vice versa. So it was just really interesting when I was to discuss it and really go into their story and go into a story that's within a story, If that makes sense, like that's how complex it is. You've got the story of Emma, but I mean, you could probably write a book on on Frank and and Jane Fairfax's story to be honest.


So, yeah, this the story holds itself on its own for short, and I think there's so many more clues than I've ever realized. Like, when I started looking for I was like, oh my gosh, it's so, there's so many clues throughout and you just don't pick up on it because you're you're kind of you're kind of told to look another places. So you're constantly your attention's shifted from it, even if you for a moment would even consider it. You just, yeah, and also you're probably there thinking why would a guy ever be this mean? Who was with someone like you wouldn't even think this again, because you're like, why would it be so mean? I don't know, I don't get it. But yeah, but I love that. You know, I really enjoyed talking it through. I thought it was really, it was super interesting. I love reading it from this perspective as well. So that was really great.


It's really interesting reading her books from a certain perspective and also what's in. You know, Emma, I think it's actually one of her not easiest to read, but it does. It is like not as complex to read, baby, as the others, and yet there's so much stuff in it. So I just find that really really clever to just the fact that there's there's so many layers, but it's actually like a really good read just all around too. But yeah, thank you, that was really really good fun and yeah, I hope everyone enjoys thinking about Jane and Frank Churchill's story a bit more.


Yeah, absolutely. Do you want to let people know where they can find you after the episode?


Yes, so I mainly on Instagram, so you can find me at historian underscore.




E, double L is and yeah, I post all sorts on there. You know, doing Austin stuff, a lot of kind of history stuff as well. So I'm a PhD student in history looking at 19th century women and yeah, there's kind of stuff on there that I just like reading or doing love, countryside, if you like, going to bath. Yeah, all sorts of stuff on there.


Yeah, absolutely. I really recommend people checking your page out for sure, and of course, as always, I'll add it in the bio. I'll also tag all of the other episodes that I'll be on with me, because we've done quite a few now and obviously we did the first villain off together with Kaylee and hopefully you're going to be on with us again With this bill.


And I hope the three of us all might be there. It's just been a mental few months. I know it's just been one of those, one of those years, I think but, so much. Oh my gosh, I know it's so much fun. It's just more of having a conversation with you, Such a good friend. So thank you.


No, of course they always love chatting with you. That's everything from us today. So obviously you can find me, as usual, over on Instagram at what the Austin for any updates on the podcast and more Jane Austen content. But that's everything from me today and I'll see you in another episode.

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