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|Mr. Knightley is not much of a snob
Written by Robbin
(5/2/2008 8:07 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Why Not Mr. Knightley?, penned by Antoinette
"I cannot help wondering at your knowing so little of Emma as to say any such thing. What! think a farmer, (and with all his sense and all his merit Mr. Martin is nothing more,) a good match for my intimate friend! Not regret her leaving Highbury for the sake of marrying a man whom I could never admit as an acquaintance of my own! I wonder you should think it possible for me to have such feelings. I assure you mine are very different. I must think your statement by no means fair. You are not just to Harriet's claims. They would be estimated very differently by others as well as myself; Mr. Martin may be the richest of the two, but he is undoubtedly her inferior as to rank in society. The sphere in which she moves is much above his. It would be a degradation."
"A degradation to illegitimacy and ignorance, to be married to a respectable, intelligent gentleman-farmer!" (Chapter 8)
I don’t think Mr. Knightley was sneering at Harriet. He was pointing out that marrying a respectable, intelligent gentleman-farmer would not be a degradation to Harriet (illegitimacy and ignorance) as Emma asserted. I think Mr. Knightley was speaking of facts as he knows them; Mr. Martin is socially and economically above Harriet as he pointed out to Emma. The advantage of the match was all on Harriet’s side. Mr. Knightley gave his blessing to Mr. Martin on marrying Harriet and Mr. Knightley is always kind to Harriet and went out of his way to be kind to her at the Weston’s ball when Mr. Elton publicly snubbed her.
The regular and best families Emma could hardly suppose they would presume to invite -- neither Donwell, nor Hartfield, nor Randalls. Nothing should tempt her to go, if they did; and she regretted that her father's known habits would be giving her refusal less meaning than she could wish. The Coles were very respectable in their way, but they ought to be taught that it was not for them to arrange the terms on which the superior families would visit them. This lesson, she very much feared, they would receive only from herself; she had little hope of Mr. Knightley, none of Mr. Weston. (Chapter 25)
Mr. Knightley is well disposed towards many people Emma has shown little respect for in the past and he gives the same people their due when Emma does not always do right by them—I am thinking of the Bates and the Martins. I also don’t see where he has used etiquette to try to put people in their place as she did with the Martins and initially wanted to do to the Coles. I do not recall him doing anything like that. I think it is unlikely Emma learned her particular brand of snobbery from Mr. Knightley. She started out the novel with very different feelings about the worth of the Martins than Mr. Knightley—as of Chapter 42 Emma still does not think Mr. Martin a good match for Harriet. Also in Chapter 25 Emma had little hope of Mr. Knightley and none of Mr. Weston that they would refuse the Cole’s invitation leaving it up to her to put them in their place. If Emma had learned snobbery from Mr. Knightley would not their views about people be more alike? (;D)
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