Posted by Cassandra on May 31, 1997 at 12:10:47:
We've been over this before, but why not tackle it again. I love the character of Harriet Smith, one of JA's most complete,well-rounded characters. I have never seen her as just the mechanism through which Emma wakes up and realizes who is most dear to her. Although, that is certainly her most important role in the novel. Harriet always reminds me of the fool in King Lear. Her words to Emma during the "ignorant of her own heart" scene are particularly revealing and insightful:
"I should not have thought it possible that you could have misunderstood me!...I know who could ever look at him in the company of the other. I hope I have better taste than to think of Frank Churchill, who is like nobody by his side. And that you should have been so mistaken is amazing!"
Alone, though, Harriet is a great, rich, well-developed(especially comic) character-in love with three men in one year. There is a quirky charm about her, notably in the Harriet Smith's most precious treasures scene.(that little pencil end) Personally, McGrath fully exploited the comic quirkiness if the Harriet character-she's not just a simpleton. I loved the way McGrath captured the scene at Ford's: "I think I should have fainted. "Oh Miss Woodhouse-do talk to me and make me comfortable again."