Posted by Sylvia on August 01, 1997 at 10:39:54:
We've talked much before about how Mr Knightley traces his awareness of his love for Emma in his jealousy of Frank Churchill. So I read the debate between Mr Knightley and Emma about Frank's character after Frank defers yet another visit to Highbury with fresh ears. The gentleman does protest too much! A not-so-besotted gentleman upon hearing about Frank's sterling qualities would be inclined to make his acquaintance quite readily, I would think. I'm sad to say that Mr Knightley is guilty of prejudice (but since he was imprisoned by the green-eyed monster, can we forgive him?)
I must take Emma's side in her defence of Frank. At one point, Emma says that Frank can "adapt his conversation to the taste of everybody" (farming to Mr Knightley, music or drawing to Emma. This is an admirable trait in one so young, yet Mr Knightley interprets this behavior as the worst kind of flattery (hasn't Mr K ever had to work a room? ;-) And we don't have too much evidence at this point that Frank is arrogant or has ulterior motives in his solitation of everyone's good opinion. It is only when Frank does get to Highbury do we all witness his not-so-admirable behavior.
And what took Emma so long to discover her true feelings toward Mr Knightley? She does puzzle over how Mr Knightley can be so unjust in his opinion of the merit of another (Frank), yet she doesn't go any further in her analysis. If she had examined her feelings here, might she not have seen how Mr Knightley was suffering from jealousy. But we can never accuse Emma of perception!