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Emma Chapter Twenty Summary
Our narrator gives us all the dirt on Jane Fairfax. Her parents died when she was a baby, but a friend of her father’s (Capt. Campbell) offered to raise her. He’s got a daughter that’s Jane’s age. Jane is, apparently, perfect. (Can you see why Emma hates her now?) She’s prettier, smarter, and all-around better than her friend Miss Campbell. For some reason, however, Miss Campbell and Jane love each other like sisters. Of course, as you’ve probably figured out by now, in this novel pretty girls don’t get too far on their looks alone. Jane’s poor. Miss Campbell is rich. Miss Campbell gets engaged; Jane has to find a job as a governess. The Campbells love Jane like a daughter, but they can’t give her any of their money. Why not? This means that Jane has to go out into the wide, wide world. The Campbells put it off as long as possible, but Jane decides that, once she turns 21, she’s cutting the cord. Fortunately, right after she turns 21, she gets sick. And that brings us up to speed with Jane. Now back to Emma: Emma sort of hates Jane (in the sense that she's slightly envious). In other words, Emma’s pretty smart – she knows that Jane is more accomplished than she is. To make matters worse, Mr. Knightley constantly tells Emma that Jane is better than she is. Even if you didn’t hate Jane before, wouldn’t you hate her now? Despite her past history, Emma decides to start afresh. Emma visits Jane and is pleasantly surprised at how pretty and elegant she is (congratulating herself, of course, about how open-minded she’s being for coming to this conclusion). Before long, however, things are back to normal. It starts when Jane comes to Hartfield with her aunts. The combination of Miss Bates’ chatter and Jane’s refusal to dish on Frank Churchill (whom she met in Weymouth) makes Emma think Jane insufferable. And unbearable. And lots of other nasty words we won’t mention here.
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