Austen’s six major novels (Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Persuasion and Northanger Abbey) were all written between the years 1811 and 1817. They deal primarily with rural middle-class family life and relationships, and exhibit a strong sense of satire.
Emma Woodhouse has decided to find a good husband for Harriet Smith, a new friend of hers with no social connections. Harriet has been staying with school friends and is attracted to their brother, Robert Martin, a farmer. She is describing him to Emma.
1. Read the excerpt from Jane Austen’s novel and say what the attitude is of the heroines to the young man they are talking about.
The next question was:
“What sort of looking man is Mr. Martin?”
“Oh! not handsome – not at all handsome. I thought him very plain at first, but I do not think him so plain now. One does not, you know, after a time. “But did you never see him? He is in Highbury every now and then, and he is sure to ride through every week on his way to Kingston. He has passed you very often.”
“That may be, and may have seen him fifty times, but without having an idea of his name. A young farmer, whether on horseback or on foot, is the very last sort of person to raise my curiosity. The yeomanry1 are precisely the order of people with whom I feel I can have nothing to do. A degree or two lower, and a creditable2 appearance might interest me; I might hope to be useful to their families in some way or other. But a farmer can need none of my help, and is, therefore, in one sense, as much above my notice as in every other he is below it. … I have no doubt of his being a very respectable young man, I know, indeed, that he is so, and, as such, wish him well. What do you imagine his age to be?”
“He was four-and-twenty the 8th of last June, and my birthday is the 23rd, just a fortnight and a day’s difference – which is very odd.”
“Only four-and-twenty. That is too young to settle3. His mother is perfectly right not to be in a hurry. They seem very comfortable as they are, and if she were to take any pains to marry him, she would probably repent it. Six years hence4, if he could meet with a good sort of young woman in the same rank5 as his own, with a little money, it might be very desirable!”
“Six years hence! Dear Miss Woodhouse, he would be thirty years old!” …
“I wish you would not get into a scrape6, Harriet, whenever he does marry; – I mean, as to being acquainted with his wife – for though his sisters, from a superior education are not to be altogether objected to7, it does not follow that he might marry any body at all fit8 for you to notice. The misfortune of your birth9 ought to make you particularly careful as to your associates. There can be no doubt of your being a gentleman’s daughter, and you must support your claim to that stat ion10. ... I say that if you should still be in this country11 when Mr. Martin marries, I wish you may not be drawn in12 by your intimacy with the sisters, to be acquainted with the wife, who will probably be some mere13 farmer’s daughter, without education.”
“To be sure. Yes. Not that I think Mr. Martin would ever marry any body but what had had some education--and been very well brought up. ... But if he marries a very ignorant, vulgar woman, certainly I had better not visit her, if I can help it.”
Emma watched her through the fluctuations of this speech, and saw no alarming symptoms of love. The young man had been the first admirer, but she trusted there was no other hold14, and that there would be no serious difficulty, on Harriet’s side, to oppose any friendly arrangement of her own.
They met Mr. Martin the very next day, as they were walking on the Donwell road. He was on foot, and after looking very respectfully at her, looked with most unfeigned satisfaction at her companion. Emma was not sorry to have such an opportunity of survey; and walking a few yards forward, while they talked together, soon made her quick eye sufficiently acquainted with Mr. Robert Martin. His appearance was very neat, and he looked like a sensible young man, but his person had no other advantage; and when he came to be contrasted with gentlemen, she thought he must lose all the ground he had gained in Harriet’s inclination. Harriet was not insensible of manner; she had voluntarily noticed her father’s gentleness with admiration as well as wonder. Mr. Martin looked as if he did not know what manner was.
They remained but a few minutes together, as Miss Woodhouse must not be kept waiting; and Harriet then came running to her with a smiling face, and in a flutter of spirits, which Miss Woodhouse hoped very soon to compose.
“Only think of our happening to meet him!--How very odd! It was quite a chance, he said, that he had not gone round by Randalls... Well, Miss Woodhouse, is he like what you expected? What do you think of him? Do you think him so very plain?”
1) financially independent working class people
3) make a home and get married
4) from now
5) social position
6) make an embarrassing mistake
7) are not completely unsuitable
9) Harriet is illegitimate and no-one knows who her parents are.
10) make people believe that you really are a gentleman’s daughter
11) county, region
14) she believed that there wasn’t any greater attachment
2. Answer the questions according to the text.
1) Why is Emma interested in poor people, but not in farmers like Robert Martin?
2) Who does Emma think Robert Martin should marry, and when?
3) How does she think that Harriet should behave toward Robert’s wife when he marries? Why?
4) Why is Emma satisfied at the end of the conversation?
5) What social class do you think Emma belongs to? What is her attitude to people from other social classes?
6) Why do you think Emma is so interested in Harriet? Do people still worry about social class when deciding who to marry?
7) Are the differences in people’s social class as wide today as they were in Jane Austin’s day? Support your answer with some facts.
3. How do you think the novel ends? Browse the Internet and check out the storyline. Write a short overview of the novel ending. Share your impressions about the novel.
Матеріал до підручника Англійська мова 11 клас Нерсисян, Піроженко 2019