Study Guide

Emma Chapter Nineteen

By Jane Austen

Chapter Nineteen

  • Emma decides to pay a long-overdue visit to the Bateses.
  • She’d go more often, but…well, they’re just so poor. And, of course, there’s the fact that Miss Bates only stops talking to gasp for air.
  • As she and Harriet walk to the Bateses’ house, Emma feels a slight tinge of guilt: Mr. Knightley’s tried to lecture her about her social responsibility towards the Bateses before.
  • At least Emma’s timed her visit to avoid hearing about Miss Bates’ niece, Jane Fairfax.
  • …or so she thinks.
  • After blabbering about the Coles (social climbers, but more on them later) and other nobodies, Miss Bates tells Emma that a letter from Jane has just arrived.
  • Settle in, folks – it’ll be a long afternoon. Miss Bates likes to read all her letters aloud.
  • And then repeat them for her deaf mother.
  • Luckily, our heroine outwits the witless Miss Bates.
  • Emma gets Miss Bates to talk about the letter, not read it. (Sigh of relief from all readers here, please.)
  • It turns out that Jane will soon arrive in Highbury.
  • OK, so you’re probably breathless to find out why. Read the book!
  • Just kidding. Here’s why: Jane was raised by the Campbells. Their daughter just got married (she’s now Mrs. Dixon). Mr. and Mrs. Dixon just left for Ireland, which means that Jane has nowhere to live.
  • Emma’s slightly intrigued by Mr. Dixon. Could he be a spurned lover? When she hears that he once saved Jane’s life, she’s convinced. Jane is a woman with a past.
  • And not just any kind of a past: a double-dealing, husband-stealing, dirty kind of a past.
  • After all, why else would anybody ever choose to live with Mrs. and Miss Bates?
  • As it turns out, Jane is also pretty sick right now. (Heartache, perhaps?)
  • Before Miss Bates can repeat all the news again, Emma and Harriet escape. Lucky them.