Study Guide

Mrs. Weston in Emma

By Jane Austen

Mrs. Weston

Mrs. Weston is living the dream – that is, if the dream is finally getting a house and a husband of your own. (And really, what else could any woman want?) As Emma’s governess, she gained the affections of Mr. Woodhouse and the love and respect of Emma. As a new housewife, she’s moved into a place of social prominence in Highbury. Randalls, her new home, quickly becomes the center of Highbury social gatherings (we’d say that Emma’s house was the center, but Mr. Woodhouse keeps trying to feed people gruel there). Mr. Woodhouse may keep referring to her as "poor Miss Taylor," but he seems to be the only one who doesn’t recognize the incredible change in her situation.

Mrs. Weston becomes a sort of mother-figure for Emma. Although Emma doesn’t listen to her as often as she listens to Mr. Knightley, she does turn to Mrs. Weston for all sorts of advice. Generous and wise, Mrs. Weston tends to give Emma good advice – although she also loves Emma a bit too much to see her clearly. After all, that’s what mothers are for, right? She’s got her finger on the social pulse, which allows her to give clear advice to both Frank and Emma.

As Frank’s stepmother, Mrs. Weston works hard to make Jane Fairfax feel welcome after Frank and Jane announce their engagement. We suspect that their engagement could have been a huge scandal – but Mrs. Weston manages to diffuse most of the tension before it becomes a big deal. We could think of Mrs. Weston as the sort of super-glue holding Highbury society together at the end of the novel. She’s worried about Emma and Jane and Frank and the Bateses and – well, you get the picture. Of course, she’s a bit worried about how Emma will feel about the engagement – but once that’s cleared up, Mrs. Weston seems more than willing to become Jane’s mother-in-law, as well. Now that we think about it, Mrs. Weston is a lot like a mother hen. She just can’t seem to stop taking young people under her wing!

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