Posted by Kali on June 01, 1997 at 04:01:07:
In reply to The importance of Harriet Smith: simpleton, mechanism, or enlightened fool. posted by Cassandra on May 31, 1997 at 12:10:47
You know how I feel about Harriet. Her words strip away the fuzz of Emma's delusion at several turns, even if Emma refuses to admit it. A favorite example is the Marriage Discussion scene, when she tells Emma that she cannot believe that someone such as Miss Woodhouse should never marry. Emma will marry - her nonsense about the differentiation between a single woman of good fortune and a Miss Bates is pure rationalization, and I'm sure that deep down, she knows it (she can go only so long living vicariously through matching up her friends!). Her problem is an inability to deal with the Frank issue (she's in love with the IDEA of Frank, though she has yet to meet him...even after they meet, she still can't see past him to Mr. K) as well as the fact that Mr. Knightley is perfect for her.
As stupid or confused as Harriet may usually be, she has an unconscious, ironic wisdom which cuts to the heart of the matter.