Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Reader Question #11: Jane Fairfax and Mr. Dixon

This next Reader Question came to me from Melody from Regency Delight ~Jane Austen, etc.~. Melody asked:

In Emma, Frank Churchill often makes remarks about Jane Fairfax and Mr. Dixon, which encourages Emma's suspicions and they often talk--or gossip--about it together. Now, something I wondered recently... was all this completely one of Frank's attempts at deception? Was Jane Fairfax only uncomfortable about the subject because of the way Frank was using it, or was there actually something to the whole Dixon thing? What's your opinion?


Before I answer the question, let me go into my opinion of Frank Churchill before I answer the question directly. In Emma, there is a question as to who the villain is if there is one at all. Either it's Mr. Elton or Frank, or even Emma herself. Personally, I don't count Frank as being a "villain"... scoundrel, yes, but not a villain -- he wasn't bad enough to be a villain. He did do wrong by making Emma believe that he was in love with her, but at the same time, I can see why he did it: he couldn't let anyone know about him and Jane Fairfax so he diverted that attention by giving attentions to Emma so no one would suspect a thing. I don't approve of what he did, but I can see why he did it.

Mr. Dixon saving Jane Fairfax's life
Now that I have that in the open, I'll answer the question. I think the whole Jane Fairfax/Mr. Dixon incident was another one of Frank Churchill's deceptions. I don't doubt that Mr. Dixon saved Jane Fairfax's life (Miss Bates mentioned it before Frank even arrived), but I think that Frank Churchill took advantage of that incident and used it to make Emma think that there was something more between Mr. Dixon and Jane Fairfax so that she would never suspect anything between him and Jane. And then, Emma believing Frank Churchill's insinuations, Frank could very easily build off of that (the piano from Mr. Dixon, whether her hair was an Irish style, etc.) and lead Emma to believe those hints too (oh what a tangled web Frank Churchill weaves...). And not suspecting that Frank and Jane were engaged, Emma, believing Frank to be unattached, started to like him to the point where she believed she was in love with him. It was all too cleverly done for everything to be a coincidence.

Mrs. Dixon isn't looking happy...
Now, was there a chance that Mr. Dixon was in love with Jane? Possibly, but it's hard to tell without him actually being present in the story. And with characters I'm inclined to think the best of them (unless they're jerks from the start).

So, I think with the way Jane's personality is, she was more uncomfortable about him using the subject and doing her friend's husband an injustice than there being something to the story. Now, you could also say, "But when Miss Bates mentioned Mr. Dixon saving her life, Jane shied away from the subject. Wouldn't that mean something? Wouldn't she be embarrassed?" Maybe, but then again, Jane was also a reserved girl who probably didn't want to make a big deal out of the whole thing while her aunt wanted to make a big deal out of it.

 So, what do you all think? Do you agree with me that Jane was uncomfortable about the way that Frank Churchill used the Mr. Dixon story? Or do you think she was just uncomfortable about it because there was something to that story? Leave a comment!

Thank you, Melody, for sending in your question! If you have a question you would like to submit for me to do a post on, leave a comment. Just follow these guidelines. It can be about anything related to this blog: period dramas, blogging, reviews, etc. 

 God Bless,
God Bless, Miss Elizabeth Bennet

1 comment:

  1. I always thought of the all the jokes about Mr. Dixon to be just that--jokes. Emma assumed the subject of Mr. Dixon was a private joke between her and Frank Churchill, when it was really a bigger joke between Frank Churchill and Jane Fairfax.

    It made Jane uncomfortable, because she knew Frank was leading Emma on in order to obscure his connection with Jane. (Also, Frank just loved a good joke, even if he didn't realize his mischief could have bad repercussions.) Jane, with her strong sense of right and wrong, couldn't approve of Frank's actions, though she couldn't really expose them, either. At least, that's how I see it. :)

    I'm looking forward to finding out what other readers think!

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