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|I like what Jeffery said very much...
Written by Alison Y
(3/14/2011 3:44 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Nina pin-pointed his being "in love" in Ch 49 and...., penned by jeffrey
I had struggled for so much and so long with what Mr. Knightley said in chapter 53 and what Miss Austen wrote in chapter 49! I first found it impossible for a man of 28 or 29 to be in love with a 13 years old girl, so dismissed it as he was joking or exaggerating a bit, as I couldn't reconcile what he said in ch. 53 to what was written in ch. 49 for the longest time, my struggle continued on...
Not long ago, a friend had pointed out to me that the age of consent in Regency time had changed to 13! I still didn't think that Mr. Knightley was really in love with Emma at age 13 as a man would love a woman, but I do believe that he had always favored her a LOT more than just as being a sister or a young neighbour. Jane Fairfax was Emma's age, and she did visit Highbury from time to time, and Mr. Knightley did think highly of her, but I am certain that he never saw Jane or had the same feelings for Jane as he had for Emma even during the years when the two girls were growing up.
I suppose love can be as complicated as it is beautiful - especially in the case between Mr. Knightley and Emma. They were friends since she was a child, she was very dear to him as a friend, taking out Emma's meddling inclination, I think she was highly intelligent and her lively personality must have been very amusing (and attractive) to Mr. Knightley. Emma’s personality and intelligence were not developed overnight or during the appearance of Frank Churchill. It was there years before the novel and ever so constantly as she grew. Mr. Knightley must have seen and admired these qualities in her since at least she was thirteen and secured a special place in his heart for Emma even then.
I feel like I’m getting close in reconciling ch. 53 to 49… The love Mr. Knightley (poor Mr. Knightley) had for Emma, I think, had many layers. As I mentioned that Emma was a highly intelligent girl, I’d like to think that Mr. Knightley found her mind and wits years ahead of her age, therefore intellectually, they were on equal footing as friends even before Emma matured physically (might I dare say… at least before she was thirteen?!) As her body caught up with her mind gradually, I fancy that he must have started to realize his feelings for her was not ALL platonic – after all, he was a man! He had eyes and Emma was supposedly very beautiful! Lol! However, being sixteen years her senior and acted more like a brother and a father for so many years, I think Mr. Knightley (poor Mr. Knightley again!) must have had a difficult time dealing with his growing attraction for a his long time friend in her youth. Being a man with impeccable self control, I think he might have been able to keep his growing attraction for Emma a bay as long as things remained status quo… then as Miss Austen so brilliantly presented Frank Churchill … all hell broke loose and Mr. Knightley’s jealousy overtook his sense… and we all knew what happened next! :D
I took that what was written in chapter 49 was the sentiment Mr. Knightley felt at that particular moment (the glorious rapture he felt for having Emma in words and in hand - I love, love, LOVE that chapter!) He finally was able to decipher his negative feelings for Mr. Churchill was stamped from his jealousy, and it was the immensity of the jealousy that propelled him to act completely out-of-character, first to run away to London (if it’s any 38 years old male running away, I would have thought him ridiculous! But when it is my favorite and the most sensible hero Mr. Knightley… it was infinitely romantic! [sigh!]) and it was the same jealousy that MADE him not only profess his love for Emma, but CONFESSED to himself that he loved Emma too much to just being his friend – his love, I think, was indeed much more intense than he had previously realized!!
And when that evening was over, when his fever was a little more under controlled… I think he probably went back to Donwell (can you imagine him walking that mile, the same mile that he had walked with the dreadful feeling that he might be losing Emma to Frank Churchill for months, how exhilarated he must have felt?! [no more poor Mr. Knightley! Yay!]) and replayed all the ungrounded jealousy he had and laughed at himself; and the time between ch. 49 and 53, how often he thought of Emma when he was by himself and just being overjoyed of feeling how lucky a man he was; and finally allowing himself to relive those years that he would not allow himself to fall in love with his young friend! Hence, in my little head, he figured that he must have been in love with her since she was at least thirteen – the years between when she was 13 to 21 marked the progression from a true friend in every sense, to the painful realization of her maturing into a woman, to when all hell broke loose he could not contain his love for him anymore, and finally, to she was his to claim – the affection was ALWAYS there, in different forms, layers and intensity… but there was always love!
Sorry for being so long winded… my first contribution to the Group Read board, I suppose I’ve used up all my words in one posting! LOL. Thank you for reading and allow me to express my subjective opinion. :)
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