Posted by Kathy F. on August 18, 1997 at 08:15:39:
In reply to Why Knightley as father or brother figure? posted by Susan on August 17, 1997 at 02:02:21
] ] ] Mr. Knightly...is my favorite JA male character.
] ] IMHO Knightly is wonderful, but he would be like living wih your father who corrects you all the time. Even the fact that he is lovingly correcting would be a pain.
] Knightley is by far my favorite JA male character, too. I've heard before that people have trouble with the age difference between Knightley and Emma, and with the fact that Knightley seems like an older brother or father figure. This is not my impression, however -- I see him as a very wise, compassionate man who likes to look out for the people he cares about. Throughout the book, he is solicitous of the comfort and well-being of all the other characters in Highbury, and does whatever he can to help them (with the exception of Frank Churchill, obviously!). It is only in relation to Emma that I hear him referred to as the headmaster type, even though he appears to serve in a protective role to much of Highbury. I'd love some more discussion on this.
Mr. Knightley's correction of Emma leads me to "assign" him the role, if only in the beginning of the novel, of father or brother or uncle--some male relative who has the right to correct her. JA does not punish him for this, therefore it cannot be much of a fault, and instead it is the vehicle for his eventual falling in love with her--this behaviour is actually rewarded! There are no real fathers in Emma, because Mr. Woodhouse is so dreadfully a hypochondriac, always fussing about like a mother hen, and only concerned for people as far as their health goes; and Mr. Weston didn't have his son with him, until after his son didn't "need" a father--at 23. Therefore it is much easier to think of Mr. Knightley in that role, because there is no one to compare him to, and because Emma needs a father, or at least someone to correct her--besides Mrs. Elton, of course. ;-) Besides, he is almost old enough to be her father, and he has that protectiveness streak in him--for her, it's due to jealousy, but unless you read between the lines, you don't really know it until the end of the book. JA sure knows how to write a complex multi-layered character!!