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|A little irony.
Written by nan duval
(4/3/2008 8:04 p.m.)
"Mr. Martin, I suppose, is not a man of information beyond the line of his own business. He does not read?"
I believe he has read a good deal—but not what you would think any thing of. He reads the Agricultural Reports and some other books, that lay in one of the window seats—but he reads all them to himself. But sometimes of an evening, before we went to cards, he would read something aloud out of the Elegant Extracts—very entertaining. (Chapter 4)
On meeting Robert Martin, Emma perseverates on her own first opinion, in spite of Harriet's description of his reading.
"How much his business engrosses him already, is very plain from the circumstance of his forgetting to inquire for the book you recommended. He was a great deal too full of the market to think of any thing else—which is just as it should be, for a thriving man. What has he to do with books? And I have no doubt that he will thrive and be a very rich man in time—and his being illiterate and coarse need not disturb us." (Chapter 4)
Emma's own literary plans for Harriet are ambitious:
"as Emma wants to see her better informed, it will be an inducement to her to read more herself. They will read together. She means it, I know." (Chapter 5)
Mr. Knightley's expectations for the plan are not so sanguine.
"I have done with expecting any course of steady reading from Emma. She will never submit to any thing requiring industry and patience, and a subjection of the fancy to the understanding. Where Miss Taylor failed to stimulate, I may safely affirm that Harriet Smith will do nothing.—"(Chapter 5)
Chapter 9 reveals Emma's literary superiority to Robert Martin:
"Her views of improving her little friend's mind, by a great deal of useful reading and conversation, had never yet led to more than a few first chapters, and the intention of going on to-morrow. It was much easier to chat than to study; much pleasanter to let her imagination range and work at Harriet's fortune, than to be labouring to enlarge her comprehension or exercise it on sober facts;"(Chapter 9)
I see a picture of an intelligent, hardworking man employing his probably very limited free time in reading for the entertainment of his mother & sisters while Emma with all her resources and resolutions, prefers to spend her time daydreaming & meddling in other people's affairs.
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