Saturday, January 9, 2010
I’m nearly halfway through my reread of Emma. I’ll never be as fond of Emma as I am of Anne or Elinor but this time I’m trying to read with an open mind. It was very perceptive of Jane Austen to write ”I am going to take a heroine whom no one but myself will much like. “ She may have been joking but Emma is not easy to like when she’s being a snob. But, she’s endlessly kind to her father, smoothing away every difficulty & always thinking of his comfort. I enjoyed the way she manages to make sure all her guests have enough to eat even though her father advises them to eat as little of possible of everything for the good of their health. I love the scenes with Mr Knightley, the dialogue just crackles along & it demonstrates the equal relationship they have. This time I’m taking more notice of how Emma feels about her mistakes. The excruciating proposal from Mr Elton was as funny as ever, but this time I took note of Emma’s feelings when she’s safely back in her room, mortified by her own blindness & sorry that her misunderstanding will lead to pain for Harriet. She is a good friend to Harriet, she’s fond of her & wants her to make a good marriage but she is reluctant to accept that Harriet’s illegitimacy is going to have an effect on how high she can rise in society. Her snobbish disdain for Robert Martin still made my blood boil, but, after he meets Harriet at Ford’s, Emma does admit the good manners & real feeling he displays. She is willing to alter her opinions, she’s never blindly fixed, although she’s reluctant to admit (to Mr Knightley if not to herself) that she has made a mistake. So, like Emma, I’m willing to admit that my opinion of Emma is changing for the better. Frank Churchill has just made his appearance so we’ll see if my improved opinion lasts through the awful party when Frank teases Jane (much to Emma’s delight) & the picnic at Box Hill.