Posted by Kathy F. on July 19, 1997 at 20:37:28:
In reply to Re: Class Liberalities posted by Sylvia on July 19, 1997 at 20:20:42
] What has puzzled me exceedingly is how Emma could seek out Harriet Smith as a friend from a social status standpoint. I would think Harriet was pretty low in the social order and then there was the question of her illegitimacy.
My take on that question is as follows: Emma couldn't bear the idea of being alone since Miss Taylor was married. She was used to, basically, constant flattery. Jane Fairfax was still gone, although if she had been in Highbury, it wouldn't have mattered very much. There were no other companions as suitable as Harriet--from Emma's standpoint. She convinced herself that Harriet was the natural daughter of a gentleman, mostly (imho) because she "needed" to: the daughter of a tradesman was too low to associate with, but there were too few people from which to chose a replacement for Miss Taylor. Harriet was young, pretty, and likeable. She worshipped Emma, and was ready to do whatever she wanted her to. I cannot think of another person from any of JA's novels that Emma would have wanted for a companion. But Emma wouldn't do without. Also, she wanted to mold Harriet into a lady, and was convinced that she could teach her as well as she was taught by Miss Taylor.
The relationship was bad from every angle, and Emma should have known better, but she was "doomed to blindness." ;-)