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Nora Bartlett

Published On


Page Range

pp. 133-148

Print Length

15 pages

8. Emma and Harriet: Walking Companions

  • Nora Bartlett (author)
Chapter of: Jane Austen: Reflections of a Reader(pp. 133–148)
In this chapter, Nora Bartlett examines Jane Austen's Emma's notions of friendship, and in particular the "usefulness" of friends, especially as "walking companions"; Emma's friendship with Harriet; and Emma's intrusive and manipulative behaviour (as well as her fragility). Bartlett gives a brief history of walking, as well as a look at its place in Austen’s novels. Taking a more detailed look at its significance in Emma, Bartlett finds that walking becomes a kind of quiet metaphoric powerhouse for the novel, an emblem of its confinement to one place, its deliberate repetitiveness, and its mode of presenting character through comparison and contrast. In turn, Bartlett looks at Emma's special relationship with Miss Taylor, and the topic of female friendship is explored. Characters and events in the three volumes of Emma are touched upon, and there is an examination of Emma’s view toward, and negative impact on, Harriet. Bartlett discusses Harriet becoming Emma's rival; Emma's immaturity, selfishness, and illogical conclusions; and Harriet quickly fading out of focus in the novel. Finally, Bartlett comments on Emma being temporarily remorseful and humbled—and Emma's new relationship providing the perfect walking companion.


Nora Bartlett