An attempt at pastiche… on Hartfield, Mr Woodhouse and Emma

Indulge your imagination in every possible flight.”~ Jane Austen

‘Give a loose to your fancy…’ says Ms. Austen, and I did. With apologies to the immortal Jane Austen whose 241st birthday was celebrated yesterday, here’s an (distorted) adaptation, a pastiche of Chapter Three of Emma, the characters being replaced by my feathered friends. The green paddy fields in front of our home in Anakkara is home for many birds and small creatures like small crabs, frogs, mongoose and so on. Great Egrets, snake birds and Pond herons are permanent residents here. During October November many migratory birds visit these fields. The lapwings, Red and Yellow Wattled are regular visitors every year and so are the Asian open hornbills and Woolly necked storks. All these birds in unison enjoy the green paddy fields.

”Pastiche is a literary piece that imitates another famous literary work of another writer. Unlike parody, its purpose is not to mock but to honor the literary piece it imitates. This literary device is generally employed to imitate a piece of literary work light-heartedly but in a respectful manner. The term pastiche also applies to a literary work that is a wide mixture of items such as themes, concepts and characters imitated from different literary works.

Pastiche may be comic in its content but it does not mock the original works. In pastiche, the writers imitate the style and content of a literary piece to highlight their work as the original piece is accepted by the vast majority of readers and are landmarks of their age. So, imitation in such works celebrates the works of the great writers of the past.” ~Literary Devices

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Mr Great Egret is fond of society in his own way. He likes very much to have his friends come and see him frequently; every year during October-November his friends visit him; and from various united causes, and from his long residence at the Greenfields of Anakkara , and his good nature, from his fortune, his house, and his daughter, he could command the visits of his own little circle, in a great measure, as he liked. He had not much intercourse with any families beyond that circle . His beautiful daughter Emma White Egret, who is a well known ballerina in the elite circles, has her own charming ways of entertaining the distinguished guests.

The lord of the Greenfields

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Beautiful Ms Egret

Emma White Egret, the ballerina dancing gracefully

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Real long standing regard brought the Yellow Wattled Lapwings to the elegancies and society of Mr Egret’s plush green living room of Greenfields.  Mr Yellow Wattled is a man of serious disposition almost past everything but soft shell crabs and quadrille. Mrs Yellow Wattled has never boasted either beauty or cleverness. Her youth had passed without distinction, and her middle of life was devoted to the care of her husband  whom she religiously accompanied on his  annual visits to Anakkara. Those who underestimate the silence of this doleful faced woman are startled once they hear her shrill voice and calls and singing at the most unexpected times. Greenfields echoes with her singing even at midnights!

Mrs and Mr Yellow Wattled Lapwings

They wear this ‘world is too much with us’ expression

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After these came a second set; among the most come-at-able were Mrs and Mr Red Wattled Lapwings. They are a happy couple whom no one mentioned without a good will. It was their own universal good will and contented temper which worked wonders. Their presence is much appreciated by the offsprings of The Dragonflies next door and the children are all around them   cheerfully dancing in their crisp red and black outfits. If you take a close look at the picture, you would see them.

  Red Wattled Lapwings

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Mrs Red Wattled is particularly favoured for the simplicity and cheerfulness of her nature. Her contented and grateful spirit, is a recommendation to everybody and a mine of felicity to herself. She was a great talker upon little matters, which exactly suited Mr Egret, full of trivial communication and harmless gossip.
Then there is Mrs. Asian Openbill; a plain, motherly kind of woman, who had worked hard in her youth, and now thought herself entitled to the occasional holiday of a tea-visit; and having formerly owed much to Mr. Egret’s kindness, felt his particular claim on her to leave her neat parlour, hung round with fancy-work whenever she could, and win or lose a few sixpences by his fireside.
These are the distinguished guests who visit The Greenfields of Anakkara every November. Miss Egret is  delighted to see her father look comfortable, and very much pleased with herself for contriving things so well…
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EMMA~  Chapter 3

Mr. Woodhouse was fond of society in his own way. He liked very much to have his friends come and see him; and from various united causes, from his long residence at Hartfield, and his good nature, from his fortune, his house, and his daughter, he could command the visits of his own little circle, in a great measure, as he liked. He had not much intercourse with any families beyond that circle ….

Real, long-standing regard brought the Westons and Mr. Knightley; and by Mr. Elton, a young man living alone without liking it, the privilege of exchanging any vacant evening of his own blank solitude for the elegancies and society of Mr. Woodhouse’s drawing-room and the smiles of his lovely daughter, was in no danger of being thrown away.

After these came a second set; among the most come-at-able of whom were Mrs. and Miss Bates and Mrs. Goddard, three ladies almost always at the service of an invitation from Hartfield, and who were fetched and carried home so often that Mr. Woodhouse thought it no hardship for either James or the horses. Had it taken place only once a year, it would have been a grievance.

Miss Bates stood in the very worst predicament in the world for having much of the public favour; and she had no intellectual superiority to make atonement to herself, or frighten those who might hate her, into outward respect. She had never boasted either beauty or cleverness. Her youth had passed without distinction, and her middle of life was devoted to the care of a failing mother, and the endeavour to make a small income go as far as possible. And yet she was a happy woman, and a woman whom no one named without good-will. It was her own universal good-will and contented temper which worked such wonders. She loved every body, was interested in every body’s happiness, quick-sighted to every body’s merits; thought herself a most fortunate creature, and surrounded with blessings in such an excellent mother and so many good neighbours and friends, and a home that wanted for nothing. The simplicity and cheerfulness of her nature, her contented and grateful spirit, were a recommendation to every body and a mine of felicity to herself. She was a great talker upon little matters, which exactly suited Mr. Woodhouse, full of trivial communications and harmless gossip.

Mrs. Goddard was the mistress of a School— she had an ample house and garden, gave the children plenty of wholesome food, let them run about a great deal in the summer, and in winter dressed their chilblains with her own hands …She was a plain, motherly kind of woman, who had worked hard in her youth, and now thought herself entitled to the occasional holiday of a tea-visit; and having formerly owed much to Mr. Woodhouse’s kindness, felt his particular claim on her to leave her neat parlour, hung round with fancy-work whenever she could, and win or lose a few sixpences by his fireside.

These were the ladies whom Emma found herself very frequently able to collect; and happy was she, for her father’s sake, in the power; though, as far as she was herself concerned, it was no remedy for the absence of Mrs. Weston. She was delighted to see her father look comfortable, and very much pleased with herself for contriving things so well;

2 thoughts on “An attempt at pastiche… on Hartfield, Mr Woodhouse and Emma

  1. This really is wonderful. I’ve had the tab open since you wrote it, always intending but failing to give it its due. Now I have, and I think you’ve done it wonderfully well. The photos of the birds would have been enough, but the way you’ve woven them together with the words is great — and great fun!

    Like

    1. Your encouraging words always brighten my heart. You are a kind soul, Linda! I was thinking, it could be sheer audacity to attempt and post this, but so glad when I heard that you enjoyed this piece.

      Like

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