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|Mary and Emma (and others!)
Written by Julia Mac
(9/30/2013 8:57 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Mr K and Edmund, penned by Nikki N
I like your comparison of Emma and Mary, I think it is very apt. I would also put Elizabeth in the picture. All three are variations on Austen's 'lively girl.' But Emma has good principles underlying her snobnish behaviour. In this respect she is a bit like Darcy; know what is right and wrong, is able to be generous and kind to the poor, but struggles with dealing fairly with those of closer, if not equal, social standing.
I also like your Mr K/ Edmund comparison. It is interesting that they both fall in love with lively young women, though Edmund is ultimately disappointed in Mary, and falls in love with Fanny.
On the point about men trying to improve women, Edmund almost succeeds in changing Mary's worldly approach to life, but it fails when they are separated, and she goes to town. On the other hand, Emma begins to think like Mr K around the time that he goes to visit his brother in London. She is kinder to Miss B and Jane, and begins to see that Robert Martin is suited to Harriet.
Separation of lovers in Austen is always telling, revealing a character's true feelings about the other (Lizzy and Darcy, Anne and Frederick, Henry and Catherine (mostly him)). They need that space in order to think objectively about the other.
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