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|Mr. Knightley and Jane Fairfax: a Match in the making?
Written by Ramya
(2/15/2011 12:00 p.m.)
Is there a match brewing between the most eligible bachelor and the most accomplished lady in the district? So far, we have seen Mr. Knightley as a sort of older mentor figure in Emma's life. The first hint that Mr. Knightley might be considered to be in the marriage market comes from Mrs. Weston, who had a late marriage herelf, and married someone who is older than Mr. Knightley.
Some evidence that Mr. Knigtley might be interested in Jane Fairfax:
1. He offered his carriage to her even though he seldom used it for himself. Ch. 26.
2. When Miss Bates and Jane Fairfax visit Mr. Woodhouse, he leaves with them even though it would have been interesting talking to Emma about Mr. Elton's marriage. Oh! Mr. Knightley is coming too. Well, that is so very! I am sure if Jane is tired, you will be so kind as to give her your arm. Mr. Elton, and Miss Hawkins. Good morning to you." Ch. 21
3. He is so solicitous about JF's health and gives up his entire stock of apples for her benefit. "How is your niece, Miss Bates? I want to inquire after you all, but particularly your niece. How is Miss Fairfax? I hope she caught no cold last night. How is she to-day? Tell me how Miss Fairfax is." Ch. 28
But, however, I found afterwards from Patty, that William said it was all the apples of that sort his master had; he had brought them all -- and now his master had not one left to bake or boil. Ch. 27
4. He pays her particular compliments and admires her performance on the piano and dancing skills.
But the sight of Mr. Knightley among the most attentive [to Jane's performance], soon drew away half Emma's mind Ch. 26
5. He seems to be a little obsessed in making sure Emma and JF are friends.
"... She must have found the evening agreeable, Mr. Knightley, because she had Emma."
"True, sir; and Emma, because she had Miss Fairfax."
Emma saw his anxiety, and wishing to appease it, at least for the present, said, and with a sincerity which no one could question --
"She is a sort of elegant creature that one cannot keep one's eyes from. I am always watching her to admire; and I do pity her from my heart."
Mr. Knightley looked as if he were more gratified than he cared to express Ch. 21
Jane Fairfax has several of the qualities he values in a woman. According to Mrs. Weston, [Jane Fairfax] has always been a first favourite with him..." and thinks that it may be a suitable match: "Excepting inequality of fortune, and perhaps a little disparity of age, I can see nothing unsuitable." Ch. 26. He is certainly far from being critical of her as he is of Emma, or even of Isabella and Mrs. Weston, the other younger women in his sphere (Ch. 5). JF is intelligent, discreet, accomplished, and not a spoilt brat. He knows that if Jane made a list of books when she was fourteen, she would have worked through them! ;-) He thinks she is diffident (Ch. 21), and finally takes great pains to show her kindness and attention.
So, what do you think gentle Pemberleans? Is Mr. Knightley falling in love with Miss Fairfax? Does Jane return the sentiment, or does the fact that she almost quarrels with her aunt for accepting his charity (Ch. 27) speak against such an inclination?
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