Posted by Kathy F. on July 17, 1997 at 12:46:46:
In reply to Emma Woodhouse... posted by Laraine on July 17, 1997 at 09:37:58
] 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 the 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 the novel 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?
] Maybe what I'm really asking is how many of the possibilities (that we can come up with) are implicit in the opening sentence?
To me, the novel seems to be about the things which occur to Emma that do distress and vex her. At first, the things that vex her are mostly based on her misperceptions of others--Mr. Elton, Mr. Martin, Miss Fairfax, Mr. Frank Churchill. At the end, she realizes that she was wrong, and her vexations become based on her own past actions (based on the former misperceptions). So the opening of the novel seems to set in place that what was true before the novel began is going to change dramatically before the end.
(btw, I'm not saying that this is the only point, just the only point that I am arguing now.)