Study Guide

Emma Chapter Thirty-Five

By Jane Austen

Chapter Thirty-Five

  • After dinner, Emma notices with a bit of dismay that the conversation seems to break into two distinct parties.
  • Even her best efforts as a hostess don’t detach Mrs. Elton from Jane’s side.
  • Prodded by Mrs. Elton into talking about her future, Jane says that she won’t be returning to live with the Campbells once they return from Ireland.
  • She’s determined to make her own living as a governess.
  • We interrupt this program for a brief history lesson:
  • Amazingly enough, nineteenth-century England isn’t exactly known for its gender equality.
  • Unmarried gentlewomen had very few options. And those options weren’t exactly lucrative.
  • If you happened to have wealthy relatives, you could sponge off of them for the rest of your life.
  • If you didn’t have wealthy relatives, you could become a governess.
  • This involved caring for whiny kids (and making pretty awful wages) for the rest of your life. (For a happier ending to this story, see Jane Eyre.)
  • That’s it. Pretty short interruption, huh? That’s because there weren’t all that many options out there.
  • OK, back to our party: Mrs. Elton, helpful as ever, barges into the conversation and demands that Jane allow her to find a family for Jane.
  • Jane refuses. Mrs. Elton refuses to accept her refusal. (Again. And again. And again.)
  • Mr. Weston enters with news: Frank writes that he will soon move with his aunt to a vacation spot about nine miles away from Highbury.
  • It’s close enough to allow Frank to come over all the time.
  • Emma’s thrilled. Mr. Knightley doesn’t look so pleased.