The Jane Austen Social Scene Part II

Photo Source: ramblings-janeite.blogspot.com

Photo Source: ramblings-janeite.blogspot.com

Today I bring you the puzzling case of Frank Churchill from Emma. In the novel, Frank Churchill is extremely flirtatious with Emma Woodhouse to the point where those around them speculate that the pair will soon be engaged. By the end of the novel, it’s revealed that Frank Churchill’s flirtations with Emma and slights of Emma’s rival Jane Fairfax were all part of Frank Churchill’s rouse to keep his engagement to Jane Fairfax under wraps until his wealthy aunt died and he received his inheritance. Once that happens it’s all, “Jane! We’re rich! I love you!” and “Good day, Miss Woodhouse.”

To be fair, Emma realizes she doesn’t actually love Frank Churchill and that her feelings towards Frank Churchill were more along the lines of a crush rather than enamor (and that he’s wrong for her). Kudos to Frank Churchill too for keeping his promise to Jane Fairfax. And yet…he totally uses Emma, fooling both her and everyone else (including his own father). Not to mention his insults towards Jane Fairfax, his secret fiancée.

So what do I make of Frank Churchill, both in the story and in the social scene? The Frank Churchill type is very charming, flirtatious, and someone you think is genuinely interested in you romantically. Yet the Frank Churchill type is in fact attached to another whom they rarely bring up (oh, yeah, my girlfriend…) in conversation; they would instead prefer to turn on the charm with you. If you do bring up the subject of their attachment, the charming façade falters as their expression turns serious and their volume lowers a notch or two as if they don’t want others to know. They might be distanced from their attachment by geographic distance or by other factors. Whatever the details of the case may be, the Frank Churchill type will blend with others, easily earning their high opinion.

Be wise to look past the charm of Frank Churchill as they may try to use you as part of their plans or simply to distract/amuse/entertain themselves. Either way, their views towards you can be best summed up as thinking of you as someone to play with. Once you figure out their game, “Shameful!” will come to mind when you think of them and what they did to you and those around you.

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