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Written by Rachel G
(5/3/2008 6:37 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Emma Woodhouse - Fighter for Equality, penned by Antoinette
Chambers defines it as follows, (emphasis mine):
“A person who sets too much value on social standing, wishing to be associated with the upper class and their mores, and treating those viewed as inferior with condescension and contempt.”
You seem to be saying that anyone who notices differences in social status is setting too much value on social standing, and is therefore a snob. I think that noticing such differences is inevitable in a socially stratified society. We could probably argue for ever about how much noticing of such things would constitute 'too much'.
I just cannot see Mr Knightley as a snob. He certainly notices differences in social status as defined by the culture of the time, but I would say that his behaviour to his social 'inferiors' such as the Coxes, Robert Martin and Harriet is conspicuously lacking in condescension and contempt.
Conversely, I cannot see Emma as a champion of social equality. Her friendship with Harriet is not based on ignoring Harriet's 'low' social origins but on denying them altogether and imagining that she must be a gentleman's daughter. Also, Emma works consistently to distance Harriet from her origins and ''raise' her to something closer to Emma's own social status. In doing so she treats the Martins with contempt. She also views the Coxes in this way, and thinks they are presumptuous to invite her to their dinner party. After the party she does “not repent her condescension in going to the Coles”, (Ch.27, first sentence).
For these reasons I continue to think that Emma is a snob and that Mr Knightley is not a snob. I believe we may have to agree to differ on this matter. :-)
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