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|Countenance, demeanour and LOLs.
Written by Rachel G
(5/9/2008 9:15 a.m.)
Emma is full of humorous lines and situations, but during this GR my attention was caught by some really neat observations about people's demeanour or facial expression, which seem to me both perceptive and witty. Here are some examples:
1. Mr Elton and John Knightley have just shared a carriage to the Westons' dinner party, Mr Elton in an ebullient mood while John Knightley is decidedly grumpy:
Some change of countenance was necessary for each gentleman as they walked into Mrs. Weston's drawing-room; -- Mr. Elton must compose his joyous looks, and Mr. John Knightley disperse his ill-humour. Mr. Elton must smile less, and Mr. John Knightley more, to fit them for the place. (Ch.14, first line)
This is so recognisable – with people arranging their social 'masks' to suit their company.
2. I also like Emma's line when she is congratulating Mr Knightley for arriving at the Coles' party:
There is always a look of consciousness or bustle when people come in a way which they know to be beneath them. You think you carry it off very well, I dare say, but with you it is a sort of bravado, an air of affected unconcern; I always observe it whenever I meet you under those circumstances. Now you have nothing to try for. You are not afraid of being supposed ashamed. You are not striving to look taller than any body else.
Again, I get a real sense of recognition here. Culture and costumes change with the times, but people remain very much the same, it seems.
3. Finally there is this line at the end of Ch.36:
Mr. Knightley seemed to be trying not to smile; and succeeded without difficulty, upon Mrs. Elton's beginning to talk to him.
This qualifies as one of my favourite LOL lines in the whole book. What are yours?
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