Jane Fairfax | An Appreciation Post | I ❤️ Austen Week

     For my final contribution to I Love Austen Week, I have a post dedicated to a somewhat overlooked character in a certain Jane Austen novel. 
     Throughout the story of Emma Woodhouse and the few people with whom she associates, the titular character is constantly in the spotlight.  But today, I would like to shine that light on the minor heroine of Emma: Jane Fairfax.

     She may be shy and reserved, but Jane is overall a gentle, sweet, and sincerely caring young lady.  That's why I think she deserves a bit more credit than she gets.  (If you haven't read this book or seen the movies, don't worry; there are no major spoilers ahead.)

     Emma is obviously the more dominant person of the two, which makes it hard for them to relate.  At first, she is rather jealous of Jane.  In fact, she is "sick of the very name Jane Fairfax".  Why?  Because Jane "seems to gain ten new accomplishments between one [letter] and the next" and she "has friends in Ireland and Weymouth" -- or, simply put, Jane has been educated as a fine young lady and has traveled to interesting places, seen new things, and made new acquaintances.  Emma, by contrast, is not studious and has never traveled outside her hometown.  

     But no matter.  That is Emma's original impression of a person she barely knows.  After getting to know the real person behind the letters, she begins to warm up to Jane.  Jane who is not at all as fortunate as herself.  Jane who is patient and forgiving.  Jane who must put up with the obnoxious attentions of Augusta Elton.  That poor, dear Jane.

     Think about all the trials Jane endures before she can finally have a love story moment of her own.  Just think about it for a minute.

      First, she comes to live with her spinster aunt and her old, widowed grandmother in a tiny little flat with little to no money.  She has no friends, and the one person who should be her friend (ahem, Emma) does not give a care.  The man she is in love with is not allowed to marry her because she is from a poor, unimportant family.

     If you go back even further, Jane's parents die and she is sent to live with strangers because her aunt and grandmother cannot afford to care for a child. 

     So now that Jane is living in Highbury, she is trying to fit in.  Mr. Knightley is kind to her, but so is the mysterious admirer who anonymously sends her a grand surprise: a beautiful, new pianoforte.  Jane is a talented musician and is more than pleased with it.  However, this unexpected gift brings on suspicion and teasing from Emma and Frank, who conclude that it is from her best friend's wealthy husband.  Jane is upset at the implication that she might be in love with someone else's husband, and who wouldn't be?  Especially when it isn't true at all and Frank knows it.

     Not only that, but she must endure watching the man she loves flirt and fool around with none other than Miss Emma Woodhouse.

     Oh, yes, and don't forget that all this time Jane is keeping a deep secret, Mrs. Elton won't leave her alone, and she must resign herself to becoming a governess in order to make some small income.  Finally, Jane is so fatigued sick of it all, she just gives up and decides to leave.  She is at last forced to take Mrs. Elton's reference for a position as a governess.

     Poor Jane, indeed.

     And then...it all changes.  (*Here come a few spoilers for Jane's story*)  Her lover's guardian dies, and they are free to be together.  Jane does not have to be a governess any longer.  Her family will not be destitute.  She can have the true love she deserves.  To top it all off, she and Emma finally understand one another and can be friends.

     So, you see, Jane has shown herself to be good, forbearing, and faithful, kind and generous, a true friend.  And she definitely earned her happily ever after.

(Forget what Frank says; I think her hair is pretty.)

   What other minor characters in books/movies do you think deserve appreciation?  


  1. Always hated Frank because of the way he treated Jane! She's truly an underrated character

    1. It's true! He was just cruel. But, as Mr. Knightley pointed out, it's hard not to forgive Frank and love him anyway. (I can't help it, at least:)

  2. Yes, I think her hair is very pretty.
    While I was reading the book I really felt like there should be more story to her, because I would like to know her better, and you gave her the appreciation she deserves!!!

  3. Lovely post, Elanor! Jane Fairfax really is such a sweet character, and I totally agree with all that you said about her. :)

    "Forget what Frank says; I think her hair is pretty." -- Right?! I never understood why he said that.

    1. To me, it seems as if he was trying too hard to convince Emma that he didn't like her.

      Thanks, Molly:)

  4. You're right! Jane is an underappreciated character in Emma.
    She is so sweet and...all what you described her to be. I still don't understand why Frank had to be so...well, had to be flirting with Emma while she was around. I mean, who does that? He was just cruel to her, and that's why I was really astonished when I found out they were in love the first time we watched Emma. But as we watched it for the second and the third time, I came to understand it a bit more than before. And poor Miss Bates, Emma was mean to her and Frank didnt say a word about it. All in all, coming to the point that matters: Jane Fairfax was certainly a great character in Emma. Thats why she's one of my favorite characters. And her hair IS pretty.
    I loved this post, Elanor!

  5. Loved this Elanor!!

    She is just like you described her. Poor Jane. I hated Frank when he was flirting with Emma. I mean, that's cruel. Poor, poor Jane.
    She is a sweet and lovely person. She doesn't deserve all of it. But I was happy for her when she and Frank finally could be together, despite the fact that Frank was cruel to her. Flirting to Emma. You don't do that, not to Jane. She's a great person.

  6. My goodness, I never thought to be so convinced in 500 words or less! I suppose my feelings on Jane were neutral, partly because of my warring feelings over Emma. I want to like Emma because she's the heroine, but one of her many flaws that irk me were her comments about Jane. But you are right: Jane is often misrepresented; the audience sees her through Emma's eyes.

    1. Yes, it's true. But Emma does go through a character arc, and so I do love her.

  7. Eeek! This is so good! Excellent post, Elanor! Jane Fairfax really is a sweet, kind soul. And she deserves to be loved and appreciated.

    That picture of her looking at Frank and Emma, though! *sob* I feel SO bad for her in that scene. Poor Jane. And that's another example of her forgiving nature. She forgives both of them even after all of that. :D

  8. Jane Fairfax is such a sweetheart, and one of the reasons I have trouble liking Emma is the way she treats Jane. Instead of befriending her, she mocks her, does everything she can to avoid her, and is barely nice to her when they're thrown together.

    In other words, bravo! This post is awesome. Thanks for contributing it to I Love Austen Week!

  9. Miss March: Thank you. And, yes, her forgiveness is quite admirable. She is a good role model, that Jane:) Which is why I had to write a post about her, you know.

    Hamlette: Once again, it was such a pleasure. Thank you:)


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