Posted by Laraine on July 16, 1997 at 13:37:31:
My freshman lit professor told me that "It is a truth universally acknowledged..." opened P&P with a thesis statement from which JA never deviated in that novel (evidence of her tightness of construction). I'm wondering if "Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her," is similar.
IOW, is Emma about the difference between "seeming" and actually accomplishing something? Is it about what constitutes the best blessings of existence? Or is it mostly about something else--marriage? noblesse oblige? modes of deception (which may mean it is about "seeming")? value systems (which may mean it's about the best blessings of existence)? how about female power in the Regency era? or something that hasn't occurred to me (there are probably lots of those)?
Maybe what I'm really asking is how many of the possibilities (that we can come up with) are implicit in the opening sentence?