This article shifts attention away from the perfections of England to explore the place of Ireland in Jane Austen’s Emma. Intrigued by Jane Fairfax’s refusal to travel with the Dixons in Ireland, Emma conjectures spitefully about an unrequited—or possibly consummated—affair between Jane and Mr Dixon. Obfuscating his actual affair with Jane, Frank Churchill uses Emma’s Irish conjectures to flirt with both women. Ireland becomes a repository of gothic potential over the course of Austen’s novel: a space upon which characters can map their unspoken and unspeakable desires. Austen accesses the Irish gothic to ask questions about national identity, legitimacy and power. Continue reading
Andrew McInnes is Senior Lecturer in English Literature at Edge Hill University. He has recently published his first monograph, Wollstonecraft’s Ghost: The Fate of the Female Philosopher in the Romantic Period (Routledge, 2016). His research interests include women’s writing of the long eighteenth century, the geographies of gothic fiction and children’s literature.