Class, symmetry, and candor
Posted by gkb on January 25, 1998 at 01:02:39:
In response to And what of "Emma"?, written by Erin on January 24, 1998 at 13:44:33
Well, for starters, I can suggest a few ways in which equilibrium is disturbed and then restored. Social class is in flux. Jane Fairfax is placed too low, the Bates's have gone down in the world, the Coles are rising in status, Mr Elton seeks to rise too fast and falls flat as a ruined cake. Mrs. Elton is also pretty yeasty in her tendency to rise. Harriet is elevated too high and tips the balance for Emma so that even a handsome, clever, rich girl is sunk low for once. Also, Emma descends to dance on the Coles's level and Mr. Knightley takes one small step down for a gentleman, but a giant step up for equality. That's just an off-the cuff look at social class balance.
Now, what about the Helene idea of symmetry in incident? The rescue from the gypsies and the 'rescue' at the dance--the wedding at the beginning and the weddings at the end--the way Harriet's encounter with the Martins couterweights the shock of Elton's engagement. There are probably many more that I am not remembering.
Next, there is the idea of the beauty of openness and honesty (and garrulity!) in our dealings with others, contrasted with civil politeness, reserve, secrecy, and keeping one's big mouth shut (Box Hill). This is an area of great tension, a tautly drawn tightrope on which to balance.
How's that? Three balls to juggle while walking a tightrope.
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