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|Some food for thought...
Written by Alison Y
(3/12/2013 9:07 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, PS: The other thing about.., penned by Reeba
I have a theory regarding the quote: "Why she did not like Jane Fairfax might be a difficult question to answer; Mr. Knightley had once told her it was because she saw in her the really accomplished young woman, which she wanted to be thought herself; and though the accusation had been eagerly refuted at the time, there were moments of self-examination in which her conscience could not quite acquit her." (Ch. 20)
Mr. Knightley is irrevocably the voice of reason and sense in the novel. Readers like me tend to take his words verbatim, and from this quote we are naturally drawn to believe that his conjecture of Emma’s dislike for Jane Fairfax “was because she (Emma) saw in her (Jane Fairfax) the really accomplished young woman, which she (Emma) wanted to be thoughts herself…” However, I have a suspicion that in here Miss Austen was meaning something completely different – Could Emma’s dislike of Jane have more to do with her jealousy over Mr. Knightley’s good opinion on Jane? Far more than Jane being an accomplished young woman?
I was, and will, never be convinced that the source of Emma’s dislike for Jane was Jane’s accomplishment. To me, Emma was too lively, too mischievous, too carefree, and too independent-minded to dwell on ladies’ accomplishments. Even though Emma was not awakened to her feelings for Mr. Knightley until she thought he loved Harriet, her love for him must have been growing over a number of years, just like his for her. It made sense to me that all those years she had found the attention Mr. Knightley gave Jane a bit insufferable, and she would not have known why, she just knew she didn’t like Jane. As for Mr. Knightley, he was in the same boat, he didn’t know his heart until the expectation or the arrival of Frank Churchill, but I could imagine that whenever he heard Emma talk of Frank Churchill with enthusiasm and intrigue during those four years of courtship between Mr. Weston and Miss Taylor, his dislikes for Frank must be growing by the year. Once I started looking at Emma as a detective novel, I began to see lights that I didn’t see previously… and many things seem to make more sense than before. :-)
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