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Emma Chapter Thirty-Two Summary
Mrs. Elton arrives in town. Emma immediately dislikes her. Her clothes are garish and pretentious – and her manners match her clothes. Even Mr. Elton’s manners seem to have changed. He’s not the perfect gentleman anymore. He simpers over his wife. Harriet doesn’t seem to notice how coarse the new Mrs. Elton is – she’s too invested in thinking that everything Mr. Elton does is perfect. Of course, manners are manners. Even if you hate someone’s guts, you still pay them social visits. Accordingly, Emma pays Mrs. Elton a social visit. As they talk, Emma realizes that she dislikes Mrs. Elton even more than she originally thought possible. Mrs. Elton peppers her conversation with references to "her brother, Mr. Suckling" (the only rich family member she has). Mr. Suckling’s name should speak for itself. Moreover, Mrs. Elton has the nerve to compare Emma’s ancestral home, Hartfield, to the home that the Sucklings bought, Maple Grove. F.Y.I. – property values are a HUGE thing for this novel. Check out our discussion of Austen and property in the "Symbols, Metaphors and Allegories" section of this module. The quick and dirty version, however, goes something like this: Good families have had the same home for generations. Really, really good families have had the same home since the time of the cavemen. The Sucklings have had Maple Grove for about eleven years. In other words, they sort of suck. Moreover, talking about your property all the time is just about as vulgar as leaving the price tag on a new Prada. It’s not cool if you’ve got to point it out. Mrs. Elton chatters a lot. She even offers to introduce Emma to her friends (an offer which Emma secretly scorns). As if that weren’t enough, Mrs. Elton brings up the fact that Mrs. Weston was once Emma’s governess. In fact, Mrs. Elton was surprised to find Mrs. Weston to be so well-mannered. Moreover, Mrs. Elton just met Mr. Knightley – and she was surprised to find that he was actually a gentleman! That’s enough for Emma. She loses it. Luckily, she’s too angry to speak. The Eltons leave, convinced that Mrs. Elton has made a new best friend. Emma spends a good deal of time thinking about all the nasty things she’ll have to say about the Eltons when Frank Churchill returns.
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