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|Emma's opinion of the Martins
Written by Patricia AA
(1/30/2011 9:17 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, I'll Just Say This..., penned by BarbaraB
"Those soft blue eyes and all those natural graces should not be wasted on the inferior society of Highbury and its connections. The acquaintance she had already formed were unworthy of her. The friends from whom she had just parted, though very good sort of people, must be doing her harm. They were a family of the name of Martin, whom Emma well knew by character, as renting a large farm of Mr. Knightley, and residing in the parish of Donwell -- very creditably she believed -- she knew Mr. Knightley thought highly of them -- but they must be coarse and unpolished, and very unfit to be the intimates of a girl who wanted only a little more knowledge and elegance to be quite perfect. She would notice her; she would improve her; she would detach her from her bad acquaintance, and introduce her into good society; she would form her opinions and her manners. It would be an interesting, and certainly a very kind undertaking; highly becoming her own situation in life, her leisure, and powers."
These are thoughts in Emma's mind upon her first meeting with Harriet...it isn't until Chapter 4 that Emma realizes Mr. Martin is a single man.
It is clear that Emma looked down on the Martins as "inferior" and "unworthy" society for her Harriet. Emma very clearly thought to elevate Harriet to a higher level in Highbury society--a level that would make her acceptable as an intimate friend of Miss Woodhouse. This does speak of a certain arrogance on the part of Emma, and the danger is that Harriet was not "remarkably clever" enough to handle the promotion...that it would go to her head, and ruin her previously sweet, engaging personality.
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