20 October 2009


I'm rereading Emma for the millionth time and I still don't like her. I think it's the idea that so many people defer to her but there is no reason that should be excepting that she's rich - and maybe that's Miss Austen's point - money rules everything. It's so very apparent the importance of money in other books - first and foremost Sense and Sensibility sinking from grandeur to virtual poverty (although they could still keep a couple of servants) as the Dashwood sisters do. It's very apparent in Mansfield Park as illustrated by the squalor that Fanny Price comes from and temporarily returns to with the thought of teaching her a lesson. Northanger Abbey, while not strictly about money, is impacted greatly by a misunderstanding about the worth (interesting choice of word) of Catherine Morland. And you could go on...
But back to that deference to Emma - I find it annoying. That said, Emma does say things or at least think things that others of Austen's characters might not admit to - especially as it concernes Mrs. Elton. A more odious creature, I cannot imagine, but Emma and I think the same thing. When Emma thinks that the best that can be said of her is that she is "very pleasant and very elegantly dressed." I couldn't help but think of how that would come out where I live. "Why, she's so sweet" - the southern insult to end all insults.

By the end of the book I will like Emma - she will have learned that she doesn't know everything yet and will have come final to realize who she really is, but until then I'll continue to dislike her. Miss Austen is again correct, she created a character only she could like.

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