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Representations of the Gypsy in the Romantic Period$
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Sarah Houghton-Walker

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780198719472

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198719472.001.0001

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‘Place’ in Austen’s Emma

‘Place’ in Austen’s Emma

Englishness, Gypsies, and Harriet Smith

(p.155) 6 ‘Place’ in Austen’s Emma
Representations of the Gypsy in the Romantic Period

Sarah Houghton-Walker

Oxford University Press

This chapter offers a close reading of the passage in Austen’s Emma in which Harriet Smith encounters a troupe of gypsies. Picking up on the ideas of walking and wandering explored in Chapter 5, the chapter argues that these are recurrent and loaded themes in Austen’s novels too, but the chapter is more particularly interested in related ideas about property, propriety and “place”. The chapter points out that the usually conservative Austen shifts any blame away from the gypsies, placing it instead on Harriet Smith. As in the case of Wordsworth, Austen’s attitude towards the gypsies is not what we might intuitively expect (or, indeed, what other critics have argued it to be); the chapter considers the need to think about the categories of “radical” and “conservative” in new ways, because of the manner in which gypsies are represented in literature from the period.

Keywords:   place, property, propriety, Austen, wandering, conservative, radical, Harriet Smith, Emma

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