PDA

View Full Version : Mr Woodhouse's age



kev67
05-30-2015, 08:48 AM
I have been wondering a bit about Mr Woodhouse. He is a lovely, old man who dotes on his daughters, but he seems so old. He must be sixty-five if he's a day. He is possibly even getting a touch senile, all that hypochondria about colds and rich wedding cake and not wanting to go out at all, and then only if driven by his careful coach driver, James. I don't think the book says if he was married before he married Emma's mother, but presumably Emma's mother was much younger than her father. Emma is twenty. Emma's sister is about six years older than her iirc, so that would put Mr Woodhouse in his late 30s or early 40s when he married.

SPOILER

I have watched Clueless, so understand that Emma and Mr Knightly eventually get it together. I was surprised that, unlike Clueless, Mr Knightly is sixteen years older than Emma. I wonder if Emma's desire to marry Mr Knightly was influenced by the age of her mother and father.

kiki1982
05-30-2015, 09:34 AM
Is Knightley only 16 years older? Because he says he held Emma in his arms when she was born... OK, maybe young men in their teens did that stuff back then...

Before I started to read 19th century classics, I thought people naturally married early because they died early too. I mean, say life expectancy was 45, you kind of need to get married at 20... When I started to read these classics I noticed men thought about marriage at around 30, even waited until their 40s to get married for the first time, unless they really fell in love very early. And people became much older than the official life expectancy statistics. It's like Mary Beard said about these statistics: once you got past the ripe old age of five, you had a good chance of getting to your 50s or even older. So essentially average life expectancy is affected by all the babies who died at 0 or one, all the children who died from childhood diseases and all those who died in child birth. But if you successfully negotiated these issues, you could expect to live to at least your 50-60s if not longer. It's probably not surprising then that Mr Woodhouse is a frail old man, although to us he maybe comes across as 80 whereas he's maybe only 60. That would be a more plausible age. Still, men like Knightley and Colonel Brandon, who were in their latter 30s when they finally considered marriage, were not at all an exception.
In the wake of that Emma adaptation of the BBC, there was an expert of some kind who said that Mr Woodhouse complaining about the cold could have been down to a disease of some kind. It's probably down to that, but I think Austen does mock him a little bit. He's very well portrayed, I think, in the BBC adaptation from the 1970s. He's so very over-protective of his Emma and so very worried about everything. And his pince-nez is absolutely great.

The age difference between Emma and her sister could be down to Mr woodhouse being a widower and marrying a second wife (Emma's mother), who might have died early too (because I don't think she's ever mentioned by Emma herself). That age difference between (half) siblings would then be mirrored in Mr Weston's marriage to Emma's companion/governess (I forget her name). He was married early and had a son, but his wife died in child birth or shortly after, he stays a widower for a long time, ships his son off to be cared for by his aunt, makes a fortune in trade and then marries again and is due to have another child, about twenty years Frank's junior.

kev67
05-30-2015, 11:33 AM
I have often been struck the age some people got to in the past. I assumed few people even lived to their forties. I agree infant mortality was high. However, so long as you were not forced to live in some overcrowded slum, or made to do dangerous or unhealthy work, you may live to your 90's. There was very little economic growth before the
20th century so I think men had to wait till they were about 30 before they could afford to support a family. I think it was almost literally a case of dead man's shoes. A young man had to serve his time and wait for an opening, probably when an older man died or retired. I think it was slightly different for working class men in the 19th century because there was factory work or work requiring muscle power. Their prospects would never get much better, so they may as well marry earlier than later. I seem to remember reading even they waited on average till they were 26.

kiki1982
05-30-2015, 12:34 PM
90s may be pushing it a bit, but 70s definitely, although part of my husband's family (originally from the north around Lincoln, then came down to Chiswick in the late 18th century) lived all of them to well into their 80s with not medicine to keep them alive. And they were working class and ended up around the docks in Southwark and Poplar. Indeed, as long as you weren't exposed to too much dirt and potential sources of disease, you lived well into old age when you had negotiated the difficult bits.

26 seems about right. Bearing in mind that you either waited until you came out of uni, inherited the estate, or had forged a respectable career in the army, the church or a genteel profession like lawyer or what have you. Point was you had to be able to keep your wife and a family respectably. So not in a dingy pokey place.

Ironically during the 17th century, even the working classes married later, not until about thirty. As you said, due to little economic growth, so to 'keep' a wife, they had to establish themselves in a saturated market, if you will, which took more time. Women too married in their latter 20s or even later sometimes, which in turn caused fewer children. After the Industrial Revolution people started marrying earlier, because men could indeed either establish themselves earlier due to economic growth or had no better prospects anyway. Although the upper classes still waited quite a while before they stuck their head into the sacred noose, as Rochester put it.

kev67
05-30-2015, 03:45 PM
I wonder if Mr Woodhouse was going a bit senile. He is a man of fixed ideas, but in the last chapter I read, he referred to Mrs Weston as poor Mrs Weston, while she was in the same room. Luckily Mr Weston was not there to take offence, but Mrs Weston herself might have.

kiki1982
05-30-2015, 07:14 PM
Yes, I always had the impression that he was a bit like some old people who have their own ideas which they have formed purely because of their own experiences (which are not necessarily the ones of others) and won't change them for the world.

Maybe poor Mrs Weston has to do with at least his one wife who died, possibly his second too. And he sees marriage as a threat rather than a merit?
Or otherwise poor Mrs Weston is to be pitied because she changed Mr Woodhouse's life and he projects his sadness onto her lot, as it were.

Clopin
05-30-2015, 07:53 PM
Is Knightley only 16 years older? Because he says he held Emma in his arms when she was born... OK, maybe young men in their teens did that stuff back then...


He also says he fell in love with her when she was twelve or something, their relationship always bothered me for these reasons.

kiki1982
05-31-2015, 07:57 AM
Yes, from the time she was thirteen... If he was sixteen when she was born, that would have made him 32 at the time... Slightly creepy when you look at it from that point of view, but he said this in a way that's the same as Darcy who was in the middle of it before he really realised he was totally in love. So Knightley, a house friend and neighbour, has seen this girl grow up, has become a kind of second father figure but suddenly realises that his affection is not that of an uncle, but of a man. It's beyond friendship. And he realises it when he tells her off on Box Hill. And Emma too, realises her affection is not the one of a niece but the one of a woman when he has left for London and she's mistakenly convinced he will ask Harriet. Emma at last realises she has taken him for granted all the while. The scene in that Davies adaptation of the 90s is quite good, but I find the one of the 70s BBC adaptation better in the sense that Knightley is more of a father figure who is trying desperately to guide the conversation the way he wants and she's trying to avoid it. Davies didn't have enough time to draw it out. In the 1970s adaptation, you see and feel the tension mount from his side. It's quite adorable.

At any rate, it's not as creepy as Colonel Brandon and Marianne where the age difference is 20 years and she's sixteen! And a bit sad because of another man. The gallant Colonel will take care of her. I'm not sure how much that love will 'grow', though, as they put it back then. No doubt he will dote on her, a little bit like Dobbin in Vanity Fair, but I'm not sure how much that love will be reciprocated beyond gratitude. It's a bit sad to think that in such a case one party will give all and have to content himself with whatever he gets...

Iain Sparrow
05-31-2015, 08:27 AM
At any rate, it's not as creepy as Colonel Brandon and Marianne where the age difference is 20 years and she's sixteen! And a bit sad because of another man. The gallant Colonel will take care of her. I'm not sure how much that love will 'grow', though, as they put it back then. No doubt he will dote on her, a little bit like Dobbin in Vanity Fair, but I'm not sure how much that love will be reciprocated beyond gratitude. It's a bit sad to think that in such a case one party will give all and have to content himself with whatever he gets...


My last girlfriend was 22... I was twice her age and then some.
My dad was 36 when he met my mom, she was 17. They bumped into each other on a train out of Toronto and fell in love at first sight, married, had four kids, and had a wonderful life together until my dad died of cancer. I've always been with younger women, usually way younger, and it's never been some weird role playing relationship where I become a "father" figure.
It's not "creepy" at all... age means nothing, just a number.:)

Clopin
05-31-2015, 09:22 AM
My last girlfriend was 22... I was twice her age and then some.

Damn, nice.

Jackson Richardson
05-31-2015, 10:33 AM
And I understand the age difference (with a man old enough to support a family financially and a woman young enough to start breeding) was perfectly usual in Jane Austen's day for her class.

Incidentally, Mr Woodhouse convinces kev he is a "lovely old man". For me he is totally self centred. (Mrs Weston is "poor Mrs Weston" from his point of view, not hers.) That's why Jane Austen is a genius: both sides of the character are there.

Reading Emma a few years back I thought that nearly every speech by every character reveals something about them that they are not aware of. Maybe not Jane Fairfax, but she is the one character that knows she needs to conceal her position.

(Frank and Jane are of the same age, but they are engaged in all probability because they have had sexual relations.)

Clopin
05-31-2015, 11:49 AM
Awh come on Jonathan, he's cute, always pushing a basin of thin gruel on everyone! And he's concerned about their health throughout the book. Actually I burst out laughing when it starts to snow while he and Emma are at Mrs. weston's house and he gets more and more concerned before pleading with Emma "what do we do?". He wouldn't wish pork on the digestion of his worst enemy and he requires everyone to mind they don't allow their hot bodies to contact the cool air; does that sound selfish to you?

kiki1982
05-31-2015, 12:21 PM
My last girlfriend was 22... I was twice her age and then some.
My dad was 36 when he met my mom, she was 17. They bumped into each other on a train out of Toronto and fell in love at first sight, married, had four kids, and had a wonderful life together until my dad died of cancer. I've always been with younger women, usually way younger, and it's never been some weird role playing relationship where I become a "father" figure.
It's not "creepy" at all... age means nothing, just a number.:)

Yes, OK, I was carrying on the 'creepiness' of the age difference between Knightley and Emma. I've always preferred older men, in fact, though I don't think I'd ever thought about getting one who was double my age. Though I say that... If I had met the right man and he happened to be older than forty whereas I was only 17, then who's to say I wouldn't have been happy? As it is, I've settled for 9 years older.

kiki1982
05-31-2015, 12:40 PM
And I understand the age difference (with a man old enough to support a family financially and a woman young enough to start breeding) was perfectly usual in Jane Austen's day for her class.

Within boundaries, though. Most women were introduced into society when they were about 16 to get married around 20-21. If not a little bit earlier. Men like Bingley from P&P who married at 22 were considered young, even in the 1850s, because a) they didn't have a fortune to call their own (either through inheritance or work) or they didn't have proper employment yet and that was a universally acknowledged requirement and b) they were still a bit childish. They couldn't possibly know what was good for them at such a young age.
That said though, a difference of 20 years was a bit much, although it probably also depended on how much you were actually worth and how good you still looked. I mean, if you were a woman and 20 years old and you married a man of fashion who was loaded but was a bit wrinkly and rickety, that also reflected on you as 'what you could get', i.e. you can't have been very interesting/accomplished, because otherwise you would have caught something better, if you will. A bit like Miss Bingley's sister in P&P. She's married to a man who is slightly older, but can't be bothered with anything.


Reading Emma a few years back I thought that nearly every speech by every character reveals something about them that they are not aware of. Maybe not Jane Fairfax, but she is the one character that knows she needs to conceal her position.

That's very true. They do their own commentary.


(Frank and Jane are of the same age, but they are engaged in all probability because they have had sexual relations.)

It would very much surprise me if that was the reason. He namely doesn't have to upset his aunt. And where would he have accomplished anything sexual in plain view of everyone?


Awh come on Jonathan, he's cute, always pushing a basin of thin gruel on everyone! And he's concerned about their health throughout the book. Actually I burst out laughing when it starts to snow while he and Emma are at Mrs. weston's house and he gets more and more concerned before pleading with Emma "what do we do?". He wouldn't wish pork on the digestion of his worst enemy and he requires everyone to mind they don't allow their hot bodies to contact the cool air; does that sound selfish to you?

Yes he is kind of cute, in an overbearing sort of way.

kev67
05-31-2015, 01:03 PM
And I understand the age difference (with a man old enough to support a family financially and a woman young enough to start breeding) was perfectly usual in Jane Austen's day for her class.

Incidentally, Mr Woodhouse convinces kev he is a "lovely old man". For me he is totally self centred. (Mrs Weston is "poor Mrs Weston" from his point of view, not hers.) That's why Jane Austen is a genius: both sides of the character are there.



I think I may have been putting that down to a bit of senility, but it could be self-centredness. In the last chapter I read, Miss Bates says how her mother, Mrs Bates, was disappointed when Mr Woodhouse returned some asparagus and sweetbread because the asparagus had not been boiled enough. Mrs Bates was keeping Mr Woodhouse company because Emma was at a ball. Mrs Bates is partial to asparagus and sweetbread.



(Frank and Jane are of the same age, but they are engaged in all probability because they have had sexual relations.)

I have not got to that bit yet, and I would be surprised as Professor John Mullan has only just discovered they had a snog.

Iain Sparrow
06-01-2015, 03:03 AM
Yes, OK, I was carrying on the 'creepiness' of the age difference between Knightley and Emma. I've always preferred older men, in fact, though I don't think I'd ever thought about getting one who was double my age. Though I say that... If I had met the right man and he happened to be older than forty whereas I was only 17, then who's to say I wouldn't have been happy? As it is, I've settled for 9 years older.


Ha!.. only 9 years older.
Us fortysomething men have a name for guys that young, "boy scouts".:)

Jackson Richardson
06-02-2015, 05:45 AM
kev - Big apologies for giving a spoiler on the plot. Mind you, I rather think the plot of Emma, after Mr Elton has proposed, is not that clear when read the first time around!

Mr Woodhouse is both totally without malice and courteous and at the same time self centred. The absent Mrs Churchill's claims to ill health are clearly regarded highly critically. Mr Woodhouse's are not, but that's partly because of his personal charm and because Emma can manage him.

kiki1982
06-02-2015, 06:16 PM
Ah, that's an interesting point about Mrs Churchill... I hadn't paired the oldies up... Maybe the Greek chorus of Highbury public opinion in Emma thinks that Churchill's aunt is unreasonable and Mr Woodhouse isn't, merely because Mrs Churchill isn't one of them and they know Mr Woodhouse? A bit like Emma's hostility towards Jane Fairfax because she isn't 'one of them' and is new in the village (and beautiful as well, how dare she).

After all, we never hear anything about Mrs Churchill, apart from the very few things Austen gave us. Maybe she's a sweet old lady, as sweet as Mr Woodhouse, who knows?

Maybe this was intentional...
It's amazing what you can disover in her novels.
:lol:

Ecurb
06-02-2015, 08:21 PM
One internet Austen fan has a theory that there's a "shadow story" in Emma, hinted at in the plot, and dependent on hints from anagrams and alternative answers to the word games. The hinted-at "shadow" story, which can be deciphered through careful reading (his story goes) includes: Jane Fairfax is pregnant -- hence the constant headaches and "indispositions". Knightley forces Frank Churchill into marrying her -- which is why he is able to repeat the letter to Mrs. Weston in his proposal to Emma, even though he (supposedly) hasn't seen the letter yet. He actually dictated it. Mrs. Weston's baby, Anna (Ann-a Weston refers to Anne Austen, one of Jane's relatives, for some reason I can't remember) is actually Jane's baby, whom Mrs. and Mr. Weston kindly offered to rear as their own.

Here's the guy's website, if anyone is interested: http://sharpelvessociety.blogspot.com/2012/08/but-it-was-moonlight-and-every

Clopin
06-03-2015, 04:57 AM
A bit like Emma's hostility towards Jane Fairfax because she isn't 'one of them' and is new in the village (and beautiful as well, how dare she).


I found Emma's dislike of Jane very true to life, Austen probably knew some real eighteen to twenty three year old girls haha. Also Jane is smart and Knightley likes her. It's funny that I don't really think I cared much for Emma the character, but looking back now I have a pretty vivid memory of what she looked like (to me obviously), sounded like, and even the types of facial expressions she was likely to make when she was speaking. I think I might have disliked her for being actually written as her age. I mean I would probably dislike a true to life portrayel of my own character in a novel as well.

Ecurb
06-03-2015, 11:25 AM
In my experience, most modern readers close to Emma's age can't warm to her. They see her as a self-absorbed snob. They are right, of course, but many older readers look back at their own youthful self-absorption fondly, and like Emma despite her many faults.

Personally, I don't like Jane Fairfax -- that's one point on which Emma and I agree. Miss Fairfax is a whiner, a complainer, and she's constantly feeling sorry for herself. Here she compares her potential life as a Governess to that of slaves in the West Indies:


"I did not mean, I was not thinking of the slave-trade," replied Jane; "governess-trade, I assure you, was all that I had in view; widely different certainly, as to the guilt of those who carry it on; but as to the greater misery of the victims, I do not know where it lies.

Oh, come now! Perhaps wealthy wedded bliss with Frank Churchill is more attractive than becoming a governess, but I don't think the lot of a governess is as miserable as that of a slave. In fact, life as a governess is probably as luxurious as (say) life as Robert Martin's wife, a fate that Emma may find deplorable, but most readers do not. The reader cannot but suspect that Jane Fairfax would never (in a million years) marry the likes of Robert Martin.

Perhaps if Miss Fairfax would stick to performing on the piano-forte, instead of professing her self-serving, whining opinions, she would avoid exposing herself readers' scorn. Who can blame Emma for disliking her?

Clopin
06-03-2015, 12:17 PM
Yes, what really made me dislike Emma was how contemptuous she was of Martin because he actually worked for a living (the horror). In that regard I don't see her as being any better than Jane in the quote you posted and I'm sure she would also find life as a governess intolerable.

Ecurb
06-03-2015, 01:05 PM
Of course you are right that Emma is a snob and would THINK the life of a governess beneath her. However, Emma is wrong about a lot of things, not the least of which is herself. Here's a brilliant stream-of consciousness example, with Emma thinking about Mrs. Elton:


" 'Insufferable woman!' was her immediate exclamation. 'Worse than I had supposed. Absolutely insufferable! Knightley! - I could not have believed it. Knightley! - never seen him in her life before, and call him Knightley! - and discover that he is a gentleman! A little upstart, vulgar being, with her Mr. E., and her caro sposo, and her resources, and all her airs of pert pretension and underbred finery. Actually to discover that Mr. Knightley is a gentleman! I doubt whether he will return the compliment, and discover her to be a lady. I could not have believed it! And to propose that she and I should unite to form a musical club! One would fancy we were bosom friends! And Mrs. Weston! - Astonished that the person who had brought me up should be a gentlewoman! Worse and worse. I never met with her equal. Much beyond my hopes. Harriet is disgraced by any comparison. Oh! what would Frank Churchill say to her, if he were here? How angry and how diverted he would be! Ah! there I am! - thinking of him directly. Always the first person to be thought of! How I catch myself out! Frank Churchill comes as regularly into my mind!' * "

In reality, the "first person to be thought of" was Knightley, not Frank Churchill, and Emma is self-absorbed about Mrs. Elton's insult to Mrs. Weston, thinking it an insult to herself. As usual, Emma is actually right about everything here, but wrong-headed in how she thinks about it.

However, one thing I like about Emma (and Austen herself wrote that in Emma she was taking a heroine that nobody would like but herself) is her energy and intelligence. All of those brains (look how quickly she solves every riddle!) and all of that energy are misguided, of course, but they're still attractive. The reality is that Emma would probably be happy as a Governess -- energetic; meddling in the family's life; inventing romances for herself in the community; matchmaking for her acquaintances. Jane Fairfax is right about herself: she'd be miserable as a Governess because she's a stick-in-the mud and she won't be happy anywhere.

Which character is more admirable: the one who thinks she'd be miserable as a governess, but is wrong about herself, or the one who thinks she'd be miserable and is right?

By the way, one more reason to like Emma: where in literature is there a more devoted daughter to a difficult (if sweet) father? Emma's faults are many and manifest; her virtues are manifest as well.

Clopin
06-03-2015, 01:56 PM
haha don't be mad if I say this but my general sense of you as a sort of masculine, athletic, sporty type guy always clashes humorously with your expertise in Jane Austen novels and romance plots in general! No offense meant, it's a good thing of course.

Ecurb
06-03-2015, 02:38 PM
Thanks, Clopin. Austen is one of my favorites (along with Tolstoy -- a strange pair, so different in their style of writing).

Pompey Bum
06-03-2015, 02:50 PM
Group hug! :-D :grouphug:

Jackson Richardson
06-03-2015, 06:16 PM
Jane Fairfax has every reason to feel sorry for herself, particularly as she's been stitched up by Frank. (Even if they haven't had it off.) She only has to look at her aunt, to see in what a precarious position a woman without adequate support can be. (Miss Bates never moans, but her incessant chatter is an expression of her insecurity. Sometimes goodness is only possible if you lack a certain intelligence.)

But I can't warm to Jane and, like Emma towards the end of the novel, I feel cross with myself that I can't feel really sympathetic. Emma rightly feels that she should have been nicer to Jane, but I can't imagine how she could have been.

Knowing that being a governess was the pits was the one thing Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte would have agreed about.

kiki1982
06-03-2015, 06:41 PM
Interesting point that about the shadow plot. However, I seem to remember that some time early on in the story, just after Mr and Mrs Weston have got married, it is mentioned that she is not allowed to dance. Code for 'she's preggers'. So the baby born at the end can't be Jane's, but anyway, that wouldn't necessarily dicount the shadow plot. Its interesting, although I think I personally find Churchill too charming to be that callous, although Jane was angry with him and they had an argument at that afternoon's strawberry picking at Donwell Abbey.

You're right, Ecurb, Jane would be a terrible governess. Although probably it is worth mentioning that governesses had a kind of double life, a bit like clergymen's wives: they were part of high society, but didn't have anything. So they were genteel, but were really poor. And not to forget that you could be despised by everybody in your household if you were unlucky: your pupils might not care for you, your mistress neither and the rest of the staff definitely not, because you were 'one of them upstairs'. If you did get a post like that, you'd be pretty miserable and lonely. You were also permanently present at parties and everything, but you had to mind what you said and did. No trying to get a husband, I suppose... Or you'd move from post to post to post and really never settle. I mean, for someone like Harriet Smith who doesn't really know her parents, it's quite alright to spend her life in that school, she's probably thankful for it, but for someone like Jane who has grown up as a lady and a companion to her friend, that's a come-down... And she's suddenly faced with it because her friend has got herself a husband. Being a companion which Mrs Weston was to Emma before her marriage, cooud be a bit like slavery. only think of Miss Crawley's companion in Vanity Fair, basically Miss Crawley just kept her as a laughing stock. If that isn't slavery I don't know what is. Governesses could end up like that definitely.

kev67
06-03-2015, 08:00 PM
Regarding Jane Fairfax, I was quite impressed with the way she resisted Mrs Elton's intentions to look out for governess posts for her, while not giving offence. Not being assertive myself, this sort of behaviour impresses me. Mrs Elton sounds like the sort of person it is difficult not to be rude to.

I read the bit where Jane compared slavery to governessing, but I assumed she was joking a bit. It does not sound an appealing prospect, rather like being an au pair whole your life. I seem to remember being told at school, while studying Jane Eyre, that it was expected most of these women would never marry.

George Gissing's The Odd Women is another book outlining the not very appealing prospects for young, genteel women without a fortune or good looks. That was written the other end of the century though. I recently read a biography of Florence Nightingale, which again outlined the lack of opportunities for educated women. Florence had a difficult time breaking away from her parents' control so that she could undergo some nursing training, even when she was over the thirty. She did not need the money, but she was very frustrated. Teacher, governess or lady's companion were about the only jobs available to genteel women who needed to work.

kev67
06-04-2015, 07:48 PM
Getting back to Mr Woodhouse's age, in chapter 41 it says he had eaten two of his daily meals on the same small table for forty years. Mr Woodhouse hardly seems the entrepreneurial go-getting type, so presumably he inherited the Hartfield estate when his father died. He must be well over sixty.

Jackson Richardson
06-05-2015, 11:08 AM
You've read the book more recently, but he could be in his late forties at a pinch. He has been in the same house for at least forty years. He could have been eating from it when he was 5, and too young to join the grown ups. Theoretically he could have fathered two daughters in his twenties. Late fifties sounds fine.

Back to an earlier point: Mrs Weston was governess to Emma and her sister and is kept on as companion. I seem to remember that it is implied she was such a soft touch as a governess that Emma has little self discipline. And that's why Emma and she got on so well.

It is odd that Mrs Weston seems to have hardly any individuality. Jane was so good at character that must be deliberate.

mona amon
06-05-2015, 11:14 PM
This is an interesting thread - makes me want to re-read Emma yet again, so I just peeped into it and in the opening paragraphs it says about Mr Woodhouse's age -


She dearly loved her father, but he was no companion for her. He could not meet her in conversation, rational or playful.

The evil of the actual disparity in their ages (and Mr. Woodhouse had not married early) was much increased by his constitution and habits; for having been a valetudinarian all his life, without activity of mind or body, he was a much older man in ways than in years; and though everywhere beloved for the friendliness of his heart and his amiable temper, his talents could not have recommended him at any time.

So if Emma's 21 and Mr Woodhouse married somewhat late, he'd be in his late fifties or early sixties, oh I forgot the older sister - sixties then. Count me among those who find him self-centred! I think it's a necessary part of being a valetudinarian. Objecting to people getting married because he will be inconvenienced by the change, his complete blindness to what his guests might prefer rather than what he thinks is good for them - but then there's this quote from Emma -


"There is no charm equal to tenderness of heart," said she afterwards to herself. "There is nothing to be compared to it. Warmth and tenderness of heart, with an affectionate, open manner, will beat all the clearness of head in the world, for attraction, I am sure it will. It is tenderness of heart which makes my dear father so generally beloved—which gives Isabella all her popularity.—I have it not—but I know how to prize and respect it.—

I think Emma is being quite insightful and self-aware for once, and she may have something here, which I who also "have it not" am completely missing.

Jackson Richardson
06-06-2015, 06:44 AM
Thank you, mona. Mind you "not married early" could mean late 30s, Isabella has a number of children, and is in her late 20s at the earliest. So mid 60s for her father?

Incidentally, there is nothing there about him marrying twice or Emma and Isabella being half sisters. How come Emma is so well off is she is the younger daughter?

I think Emma is being charitable and making the best of the situation.

kev67
06-06-2015, 06:56 PM
Whenever there is a social event, a ball or an outing for instance, that Mr Woodhouse does not want to go to, some other person, either Mrs Weston or Mrs Bates, is detailed to keep him company. It is possible that Mrs Bates or Mrs Weston might prefer to be at the event. In the case of Mrs Bates it is probably a price worth paying. Half a hind quarters of pork every now and then are worth having. Besides, these social events are very important to her her granddaughter, Jane. Having married a wealthy man, Mrs Weston need not take these mercurial considerations into account, but she keeps him company anyway. I quite like that Mr Woodhouse likes the company of women, even older women, when his daughter is away.

kev67
06-13-2015, 06:26 PM
kev - Big apologies for giving a spoiler on the plot. Mind you, I rather think the plot of Emma, after Mr Elton has proposed, is not that clear when read the first time around!


I suppose Jane and Frank must have been having sex, or why the HUGE deal about their secret engagement when it came to light? Only I don't see how they would have had much opportunity, at Highbury at least.