Posted by Kali on June 29, 1997 at 15:29:37:
In reply to Frank is the catalyst, his arrival the watershed... posted by Kali on June 29, 1997 at 14:47:47
Mr. Knightley during the proposal scene dates his awakening to Frank Churchill's arrival. "One sentiment having enlightened him to the other."
To give his subconscious more credit, however, note that from the beginning Mr. Knightley...Mr. Kind and Cheerful...has always been very hard on Frank - even before his arrival! This is one of my little ironic clues, as is Mr. Knightley's wishing Emma in love with some doubt of its return (the pivotal, uncharacteristic spite resufacing again!). Frank's actual arrival forces Mr. Knightley to admit his love to himself (pianoforte scene), the ball forces him to resolve the fact that he does want her in a very real and present way, and Box Hill (the climax of all the plotlines - Jane and Frank explode, Mrs. Elton fianlly loses it and actually hisses and spats at Emma, and Emma seems to be at a critical point re: breaking or not breaking through the adolescent curtain) brings the realization that he may lose her.
Awhile back some folks were discussing why Mr. Knightley didn't stay to fight for Emma. I didn't get to read all of the posts, so I don't know if this sentiment has been expressed: I feel that while Mr. Knightley did not fight for her as an object to be won, he did fight on her behalf. Or, if you prefer, he tried to arm her as best he could so that SHE might fight her own, internal fight. He chose to make the battle into a moral one - of clarity and truth versus dissimulation and selfish immaturity ("how they pervert the understanding!"). Essentially, the situation is a battle for her soul - for her future! - in which SHE must participate in order to fully triumph. It has nothing to do with whom she marries, but with whom she ultimately values and for which reasons. This is why Box Hill is the climax...the scolding is is way of saying, "I've done all that I can. Put my words to work!" It is Emma, through the teachings of Mr. Knightley, who wins. Okay, now it's sounding like the New Testament, so I'll stop.