Posted by Laraine on August 01, 1997 at 10:54:48:
In reply to Re: Emma as Mrs. E. posted by Kali on July 31, 1997 at 21:33:15
]]IMHO, Emma is too intelligent ever to fall into the traps Mrs. Elton falls into.
] Is she? Remember the insult at Box Hill? Her entire career as a dating service? Her blind fascination with Frank Churchill and even with Mr. Elton?
]...an unreformed Emma, as she grows older and less receptive, would slip deeply and irreparably into delusion - ...
] Emma is lucky that she has Mr. Knightley - I can't speak positively for Mrs. Elton, but I would guess that if SHE'd had a good role model like Mr. Knightley, she might have turned out to be a completely different sort of person. ...
This is is hard for me to articulate, but I'll try...
I think they're both vain and they're both capable of hurting people. But (this is the hard to articulate part), there seems to me to be a difference.
Mrs. Elton seems meaner spirited to me than Emma does. She really wants to hurt Harriet at the ball. Emma's nasty remark to Miss Bates is impulsive and she regrets it quickly. Somehow I just can't see Mrs. Elton actually regretting what she does to Harriet.
The way Emma treats her father with such kindness shows me that she isn't really selfish at heart. There aren't any examples of this sort of "English delicacy for the feelings of others" in Mrs. Elton's repertoire.(I wouldn't count Jane as an example of selfless devotion on Mrs. Elton's part any more than I would count Harriet for Emma.)
I also think that Emma is actually a lot smarter than Mrs. Elton. It's not that Emma's not wrong a whole lot of the time. But quotes like this one shape my opinion of Emma a lot: "Emma was very compassionate; and the distresses
of the poor were as sure of relief from her personal attention and kindness, her counsel and her patience, as from her purse. She understood their ways, could allow for their ignorance and their temptations, had no romantic expectations of extraordinary virtue from those for whom education had done so little; entered into their troubles with ready sympathy, and always gave her assistance
with as much intelligence as good-will." I never hear things like that about Mrs. Elton.
Mrs. Elton isn't without opportunity to learn how to behave better--Mr. Knightley tells her several times that her behaviour is unacceptable--by asking Harriet to dance, by telling her she cannot direct his party at Donwell--it just never seems to have any effect. With Emma it often does.
I completely agree that there are instances when both Mrs. Elton and Emma behave badly: selfishly, blindly--and that they both hurt other people. But I also think that if Emma matured past her fanciful stage without Mr. Knightley she wouldn't harden into a mean-spirited person.