“That sweet, amiable Jane Fairfax!” said Mrs. John Knightley.– “It is so long since I have seen her, except now and then for a moment accidentally in town! What happiness it must be to her good old grandmother and excellent aunt, when she comes to visit them! I always regret excessively on dear Emma’s account that she cannot be more at Highbury.
Up until this moment, Emma has been the social butterfly; talkative and all aglow.
In fact, just a page or so ago she gently coaxes her sister, Isabella, to inquire after Mr. Perry. Then she steers (controls) the conversation to the next topic; the well-being of Mrs. Bates and Miss Bates; and even goes so far as to inquire (in confidence) after Robert Martin.
And she talked in this way so long and successfully that, when forced to give her attention again to her father and sister, she had nothing worse to hear than Isabella’s kind inquiry after Jane Fairfax…
Uh oh. Jane Fairfax: She Who Shall Not Be Named.
It’s a terrible thing, jealousy. And in this self-promoting age — via social media like facebook and twitter – it rears its ugly head on a daily basis. It lies behind the posts that casually appear on your newsfeed:
I got a promotion!
I’m starting a new book tour, thanks to my uber awesome agent!
So, when I feel the urge to ignore something that is entirely worthy of praise, I check to see if the green-eyed monster that silences Emma may be lurking nearby.
Anchored in the words “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy…think on these things” I reassess my feelings.
Unknown to Emma, Jane Fairfax is secretly engaged to Frank Churchill — who may be Jane’s only hope of escaping a life of poverty (with a dreaded governess position as option number two). Emma comprehends Jane’s lowly social status; she’s no dope. She just lacks empathy — when it comes to Jane, that is. She’s charitable to the poor in other instances and is more than helpful assisting her father and visiting nephews. But listening to Isabella pay respect to Miss Fairfax’s accomplishments makes our eponymous heroine particularly uncomfortable.
At the end of Emma, we read that Frank Churchill would return among them no more; and Miss Fairfax, it was reasonable to suppose, would soon cease to belong to Highbury.
Too late now, Emma. You could have experienced the joy that only friendship brings! You could have grown along with Jane, learning and living and developing in your own self-knowledge had you not been swayed by envy. Jane Fairfax is now gone and it’s too late.
Let’s hope we don’t make the same mistake as Emma.
Don’t allow envy to get a hold of your heart. Give credit where credit is due.
The next time you’re on facebook, go ahead and “like” a baby photo. It won’t kill you. “Like” your friend’s CD if it’s worth a listen. “Retweet” you cousin’s book link, if it was a pleasant read. Be supportive of anything that is worthy.
Praise truth. Appreciate effort.
I intend to start today. Because you never know when a Jane Fairfax will cease to belong to Highbury.
Do you think Emma suffered from jealousy where Jane Fairfax was concerned? Have you ever been less than gracious when someone else shared their good news?
*Photo: Green Eyed Cat 1 by zeevveez, obtained through Flickr.