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|Emma wrongs the Martins
Written by Robbin
(1/28/2011 10:28 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, 21st Century Emma, penned by Sarah Yorkshire
I like Emma. I am on a continuing quest to know her but that entails looking at her faults as well as her assets. I also feel discussion of faults is often the livelier of the two and usually the most informative. (:D) It is easy to understand how Emma grew “a disposition to think a little too well of herself” (1) since she has always had “the power of having rather too much her own way” (1) but I don’t think that it was inevitable. She might have followed the example of her excellent friends—her father, Mrs. Weston and Mr. Knightley instead. Mr. Woodhouse is concerned for his servants, Mr. Knightley is concerned Emma will teach Harriet to be discontented with her lot in life (5) and I can’t imagine gentle Mrs. Weston describing the neat and sensible looking Robert Martin as clownish.
Ramya said Emma “is ready to discount the true worth of people simply based on their class” and I feel that is evident in her unflattering and unfounded assumptions about farmer Robert Martin. This can be called a prejudice in that Emma has “an unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand or without knowledge, thought, or reason” (dictionary.com). Both definitions apply. Emma decides beforehand that he is not worthy of Harriet although he was born legitimate of a respectable family. Second, Emma gives no real consideration to what Harriet tells her about the Martins or Robert specifically. I do not think the Martins are the unworthy rustics Emma suggests. Take a look at these posts from the 2005 and 2008 Emma group reads which relate the fashionableness of Alderney cattle and how the books and reports Robert Martin reads illustrate that he may be better read than Emma.
Beware of perusing the threads containing these posts because they may have spoilers for chapters we have not read yet:
Here is an early 19th century Written by JulieW (3/31/2008 10:48 a.m.)
And in addition Written by JulieW (4/4/2008 8:42 a.m.)
Knox and the Elegant Extracts. Written by JulieW (1/26/2005 8:46 a.m.)
I agree the rule of polite society was rather stricter than it is today but so far Emma is not a shining example. When Robert Martin meets with Emma and Harriet on the Donwell road he does exactly as etiquette demands since it is up to Emma to notice him: “after looking very respectfully at her [Emma]” he “looked with most unfeigned satisfaction at her companion [Harriet]” (4). Although he is clearly happy to see Harriet he acknowledged Emma, the highest ranking person first and then spoke with Harriet “but a few minutes… as Miss Woodhouse must not be kept waiting” (4). Emma chooses not to notice Mr. Martin which is her prerogative. However if Emma had truly wished to be gracious and honor her friendship with Harriet she would not have held back her notice of a man who is admired by her friend and in whose house she was very kindly and generously treated. Robert Martin may not need Emma’s charity but it is a foolish and ungracious assumption on her part that he is unworthy of notice. (:D)
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