Posted by greg on August 15, 1997 at 19:49:45:
In reply to Re: Emma's Role at the Center of the Novel... posted by Laraine on August 15, 1997 at 15:46:58
] ] Does this make sense?
] It makes lots of sense, Kali--you always do.
] I do like Emma. I can't defend her very well, partly because she's not very defensible and partly because I can't seem to get words around why I like her. For me, she's got good qualities as well as bad ones, and I can love her in spite of her faults. For me (but less for you?) Austen helps me to like her by making her capable of seeing that she has faults and by making her capable of wanting to be a good person. (I know plenty of people who wouldn't be as nice to their fathers as Emma is, for example).
"...Emma and Knightley are very real people to me. I think there are layers on layers of personality put there for us to discover on our tenth or twentieth reading. In the last reading I've been doing I've noticed how much more there is to Knightley than I've ever imagined. He's a lot more moonstruck a lover than I ever noticed before, and he is so a lot earlier than I ever noticed.
] I'll stop now, but I may have to say more later :-)
maybe we're interested in emma woodhouse, and even come to sympathize with her for the following reasons:
1)like all ja novels, emma and her world are so finely and exquisitely drawn that ours is initially the fascination of recognition, of seeing the "real people" as you describe them. ja's a "rembrandt" of the written word, as it were. "oh, i know an emma...", or "caroline bingley is exactly like so-and-so...".
2)as kali said, we see through emma's eyes, but we also see through them as austen sees through them, or through austen's own more acute and objective sensibility. look at how ja sets-up emma for us on the very first page: "the danger, however, was at present so unperceived...". our interest is held partly at first, by a curiosity to see how emma "gets hers". "if this is so true to life," we say to ourselves, "then this babe's gonna have to hit some ripples in the stream like the rest of us".
3)ja continues the set-up process by creating an entire world of finely drawn characters, and then she gives us the one-two punch common to all of her novels: the heroine's dreams are dashed, she's blind-sided, she's disappointed and/or battered by life. "true-to-life again" we say, "all too true". but wait, mr. knightley loves me, henry tilney's not like his father, lucy steele married robert ferrars...! the redemption and reconciliation that always comes would seem but a wild romantic dream if it weren't for the convincing reality that's preceded it.
i think part of our "fascination of recognition" - and later sympathy for emma - is that we find in her, not so much a photograph, as a mirror that we see our own foibles and dreams in.