Posted by Cassandra on July 21, 1997 at 22:10:23:
In reply to Emma the Strong and Harriet the Weak posted by Nora on July 21, 1997 at 18:32:15
You made some interesting points, but I don't really agree with it. Yes-Emma interferes in Harriet's life, but it is not malicious, some MAdame Merle design. Emma thinks a little too well of herself, likes to play God. She is deluded, but she thinks she is doing good, helping Harriet. Emma is human, faultless in spite of her faults. More than control, I think Emma enjoys being the centre of attention, Miss Woodhouse,first lady of Highbury. She likes being the star and no one is a better, eager, forever worshipping member of the audience than Harriet Smith: "Oh Miss Woodhouse-do talk to me and make me comfortable again." Few of us could resist such blatant adoration.
With respect to your juxtaposition-Emma the strong, Harriet the weak-I think that takes away from JA's genius. What is so interesting for me is that Harriet is not just a stock character-simpleton, the precious treasures, in love with three men in one year. Harriet is star-struck obviously. But, she can be very clear-sighted, much more than Emma. Emma is not so in control as she thinks. She is panic-stricken that she might lose Mr. Knightley. The magic of JA.
"I should not thought it possible..that could have misunderstood me!..Mr. Frank Churchill, indeed! I do not know who could ever look at him in the company of the other. I hope I have better taste than to think of Mr. Frank Churchill, who is like nobody by his side. And that you should have been so mistaken is amazing."