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|A matter of joy or a matter of choice (long)
Written by Robbin
(4/4/2008 5:37 p.m.)
"And you have forgotten one matter of joy to me," said Emma, "and a very considerable one -- that I made the match myself. I made the match, you know, four years ago; and to have it take place, and be proved in the right, when so many people said Mr. Weston would never marry again, may comfort me for anything." (Chapter 1)
In Chapter 1 Emma happily asserts she made the match between Miss Taylor and Mr. Weston four years ago and its reality strikes her as a confirmation of her being right when so many people said he would never marry again. Emma believes the match was her idea, she promoted it with self-denying, generous friendship and without her it might have never happened—Chapter 1. Emma considers the marriage a personal triumph for herself but Mr. Knightley thinks otherwise suggesting had she been doing the business of matchmaking it was an unworthy employment for a young lady’s mind and aside from making a lucky guess the most Emma did was repeating the idea of a match to herself on occasion and nothing more. He goes on to say her interference was not needed and would have most likely been harmful to her object:
"A straight-forward, open-hearted man, like Weston, and a rational unaffected woman, like Miss Taylor, may be safely left to manage their own concerns. You are more likely to have done harm to yourself, than good to them, by interference."
In Chapter 2 the narrator indicates Emma’s triumph is, as Mr. Knightley thought, merely a fantasy of her daydreaming. Mr. Weston having “realized an easy competence” had long his own ideas of what kind of life he wished to lead and so the purchase a little estate in Highbury “which he had always longed for” and “to marry a women as portionless even as Mrs. Taylor,” who had for some time influenced his schemes, was in fact his plan all along:
It was now some time since Miss Taylor had begun to influence his schemes; but as it was not the tyrannic influence of youth on youth, it had not shaken his determination of never settling till he could purchase Randalls, and the sale of Randalls was long looked forward to: but he had gone steadily on, with these objects in view, till they were accomplished. He had made his fortune, bought his house, and obtained his wife; and was beginning a new period of existence with every probability of greater happiness than in any yet passed through. He had never been an unhappy man; his own temper had secured him from that, even in his first marriage; but his second must shew him how delightful a well-judging and truly amiable woman could be, and must give him the pleasantest proof of its being a great deal better to chuse than to be chosen, to excite gratitude than to feel it. (Chapter 2)
I think the reference to Mr. Weston’s designs on Miss Taylor not being the tyrannic influence of youth on youth is a reference to the heedlessness of his first marriage but also a disclaimer of Emma’s influence on the match. I think Emma’s insensitive ideas to mold Harriet and dispose of her according to her own design and taste regardless of the girl’s feelings, which must be channeled in the appropriate direction and poor Mr. Martin’s which do not matter at all, is in a fair way to be classified as the tyrannic influence of youth. I think Mr. Weston’s new understanding that it is a great deal better to chuse than to be chosen, to excite gratitude than to feel it is again a reference to his first marriage and also I think a second disclaimer of Emma’s influence in making the match. Mr. Weston may have been under the tyrannical influence of youthful passion when he married Miss Churchill but I think due to her situation she was the chooser and so gained the amiable gratitude of her husband but sadly much to her regret:
“Mrs. Weston ought to have found more in it, for she had a husband whose warm heart and sweet temper made him think every thing due to her in return for the great goodness of being in love with him; but though she had one sort of spirit, she had not the best. She had resolution enough to pursue her own will in spite of her brother, but not enough to refrain from unreasonable regrets at that brother's unreasonable anger, nor from missing the luxuries of her former home. They lived beyond their income, but still it was nothing in comparison of Enscombe; she did not cease to love her husband, but she wanted at once to be the wife of Captain Weston, and Miss Churchill of Enscombe.”
Mr. Weston was chosen by Miss Churchill and his first marriage was unhappy but he chose Miss Taylor himself and his second marriage is happily the opposite of the first inferring IMO Emma had no hand in making the match for she would also have been choosing for Mr. Weston. I think the lesson here is choose you own partner and happiness is more likely to follow, it is also a reiteration of Mr. Knightley’s claim that Mr. Weston and Miss Taylor could find their way to each other without Emma’s help but I fear his more prophetic assertion, contrary to his claims in Chapter 5, that interference by Emma is more likely to do harm than good. I fear for Harriet who seems incapable of making any choice for herself; if she ever had this capacity it has been completely smothered by the end of Chapter 4 by her eagerness to look up to and please Emma. Then there is Mr. and Mrs. Weston’s favorite thoughts respecting Emma’s destiny—perhaps something to do with his son and a long hoped for visit? The Westons’, unlike Emma, so far have shown no propensity to do more than cherish their wishes and Emma, unlike Harriet, so far is not deficient in the ability to choose for herself and seems to be little influenced by others in her opinions. (;D)
Any thoughts welcome! (;D)
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