Quick Index Board Index Home FAQ Site Map
Written by Robbin
(4/11/2008 4:09 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Different definitions I think, penned by Tracy W
No, no that is not my opinion. (;D) I think it has as little merit as the opposite opinion that no Regency poor have extraordinary virtues. It is not an argument I have made and I don’t think suggesting Emma is wrong to have zero expectations of an entire group of people in any way suggests it. I understand a group designated “Regency poor” or any other sort of grouping such as “farmers” or “poor old maids” consists of individuals with different abilities and attributes which is actually my only point in the matter—I think the opinion no romantic expectations does not consider individuality within the group. I would immediately agree with you that Emma was not blind to the possibility that a poor person might have such a virtue if the word “no” (zero) was not used to identify the amount of expectations she has of the poor and I am sorry to disagree with you but to me that is not right even admitting the slimmest changes of such an event.
When I paralleled Emma’s thoughts on the poor’s expectations in Chapter 10 to her expectations of Mr. Martin and Harriet I was trying to show two faults I see in Emma; the adherence to preconceived ideas about groups of people (Mr. Martin) and the willingness to mold people and situations to suit her ideas and plans (Harriet.) This idea occurred to me because Emma’s views of Harriet are romantic as well as unrealistic and “no expectations of extraordinary virtue from those, for whom education as done so little…” reminded me when Emma said in Chapter 4 of Mr. Martin, “I had no right to expect much, and I did not expect much.” I used the word extraordinary with humor in describing Harriet and Mr. Martin but it has caused additional misunderstandings.
I was not thinking of virtue using the definition of moral goodness but that a virtue can be an admirable quality or property or something which gives excellence such as courage or a dowry as in one of the P&P adaptations where Mrs. King’s ten-thousand pound dowry is humorously said to be a virtue. Being the daughter of a gentleman of fortune would be an asset for Harriet in the marriage market because it puts her in the same sphere as gentlemen, which I think is one of the reasons behind this particular romantic notion. So I was not saying being a gentleman’s daughter made Harriet extraordinarily virtuous but rather that Emma’s asserting Harriet is a gentleman’s daughter is giving her an asset she does not possess, an asset (virtue) not expected of an illegitimate parlor boarder. I also was not commenting on whether Harriet (or any gentleman’s daughter) is virtuous or not—so far in the novel I have no reason to believe Harriet is not a virtuous maid.
Again, I should not have used the word extraordinary, as in the text quote, when explaining myself because I did not intend to promote the idea Mr. Martin is a saint but rather that he was indeed far above Emma’s idea of a farmer—I was trying to be humorous again but I suppose only managed to obscure my point. I think it is extremely safe to say Emma boxed Mr. Martin into her idea of a low farmer and vulgar man and had no expectations of finding any good qualities (virtues) in him. Although Emma can’t or won’t admit it, he does have oodles of good qualities which apparently she never considered a farmer might possess just like she has no romantic expectations of extraordinary virtue in the poor. Emma’s attention to her father is lovely and I admire it greatly but as far as I can tell it has nothing to do with her views of farmers or Robert Martin—IMO this is not a tit for tat situation. To me Emma’s attentions to her father do not erase her wrong-headed thinking about Robert Martin. (;D)
Groupread is maintained by Myretta with WebBBS 3.21.