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|Diplomacy vs manipulation
Written by nan duval
(4/10/2008 7:22 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Emma mananging Harriet vs Mr Woodhouse, penned by Tracy W
I agree with you that Emma uses diversion very skillfully in conversations with her father & even moreso in conversations with her father & any others who might raise or respond to topics in any way that he might construe to be either contradictory to his opinions (or those of Mr. Perry) or critical of Emma. I think the way she "works the room" at the dinner at Hartfield is admirable, & could be used in a training manual for ambassadors. I consider this not manipulative as in gaining some end, as maintaining the peace & status quo of her father. As critical as I am of Emma for her snobbery & interference with Harriet, I do believe she has many good qualities, not the least of which is her affection for Mr. Woodhouse. She is dedicated to his comfort & happiness, not only because it is in her best interest to be so but because of great affection for him.
I do agree that her dealings with Harriet are very manipulative. I'm not sure if I would even call it a relationship as much as a project. Emma forms a "friendship" with Harriet after deciding to find a wife for Mr. Elton, & her dealings with her are all aimed at accomplishing this mission with dispatch. All her skills in diversion & not so veiled threats are employed to that end. She is forced to acknowlege to herself that Harriet is slow witted, but other than that she allows herself to see and accept little of what Harriet actually is or wants. Their entire relationship consists in Emma molding Harriet into what she imagines & wants her to be. She is quite ruthless in using Harriet's admiration for her as her social superior & affection for her as her benefactress to gain her end.
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