Yesterday, I posted my initial thoughts about Mrs. Elton and her striking predilection for wearing lace veils:
Diane Reynolds responded in a variety of interesting ways, first with this:
"I am trying to envision Mrs. Elton going around veiled all the time. The idea makes me laugh and could be a part of a comic filming of Emma, but I just can't see it as JA's intent." Diane, excuse me if I don't entirely believe you, I think you're on the fence about this one.. I.e., it makes you laugh, I suggest, because the possibility intrigues you. And actually, I only just realized that Diana has slid something very clever into her post this morning that supports my theory further: "I'm also thinking that Mrs. Elton's "very few pearls, very few lace veils," is not necessarily a comment on anything resembling a typical @1800 wedding, but her own aspirational materialistic nature! (And why is that in the plural? Pearls yes, but if the bride didn't wear a lace veil, who else would?). " To answer Diana's parenthetical question, MRS. ELTON WOULD! Just as she tries to steal the show from Emma at the Crown Inn ball (Queen of the Evening, lace, etc.) Jane Austen keeps subliminally injecting this idea that Mrs. Elton's face has not been seen by anyone .And in that Crown Inn scene, I also just noticed that JA again reminds us that people are STILL curious to get a look at Mrs. Elton, even though she has been in Highbury for a while already. It means that every Sunday people see her in church wearing a lace veil.
Diane also wrote: "But it could perhaps point to a Moorish or Muslim subtext, especially with Miss Bates talking about Aladdin's lamp. Maybe Augusta is part Arab? Maybe that has something to do with her gipsy party to pick strawberries ... of course, I am being facetious ... " Oh, no, you're not, you just are ambivalent, but you can't resist bringing forward this wonderful additional element---of course Miss Bates just happens to mention Aladdin's Lamp (under cover of praising Mr. Weston for his genie-like transformation of the Crown Inn into an Arabian Nights décor) RIGHT AFTER she praises Mrs. Elton for her lace, Queen of the Evening (which is an echo of the Queen of the NIGHT, from The Magic Flute, who wears black). And yes, the gipsy party is absolutely part of JA's subliminal clueing. Arab, Gipsy, African, they are all dark skinned groups, and ALL associated with Mrs. Elton in particular. And...it's interesting to think of the contrast in this regard between Mrs. Elton, on the one hand, and Emma Harriet and Jane on the other, who are all light skinned. Frank in particular takes special pleasure in noting how pale Jane's neck is, almost as if to say "NOT like Mrs. Elton!" Cheers, ARNIE @JaneAustenCode on Twitter