"I cannot make speeches, Emma . . . If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more." --Mr. Knightley
(Just a warning: There will be spoilers!)
Back in March, I took it upon myself to re-read Pride and Prejudice. I first read it when I was about ten (in other words I was far too young to really appreciate it). After enjoying it immensely and being struck by its sheer genius, I decided to re-read all Jane Austen's novels. In May, I began working on Emma.
That's right-in May.
6 months later, I finally finished.
It was definitely well worth the time!
I am now more in love with the book than I ever was. And Mr. Knightley, who I not so long ago gave the criticism of being too "stuck up," proved to be quite the Mr. Darcy. In fact, I'd even go so far to say that he Out-Darcies Mr. Darcy! (Heresy, I know.)
It's positively delightful when you can find someone in literature who is going through all the same thoughts and emotions, trials and tribulations as you, and I found such a person in Emma. Although I think I've always wanted to be Lizzy Bennett (what girl doesn't?), Emma is a much closer to the me, I must admit. She's thoughtful and analytical (almost to a fault sometimes), but her naturall intelligence and perceptiveness can be blinded by her overweening rashness and foolishness.
The Box Hill Party, when Emma insults Miss Bates always makes me cringe. I remember, in younger, more awkward years, making a joke that went terribly awry and insulted someone. It's not a pleasant situation to find oneself in. And I can only imagine how humiliated and ashamed Emma must have felt after Mr. Knightley rebuked her for it. Gah! It hardly bears to be thought of!
And finally, the love story is, I think, my favorite of all Austen love stories. Pride and Prejudice (which I would say is my currently reigning Austen favorite-Persuasion being close behind it,) has one of the most beautiful, classic love stories ever written, but Emma's is just as romantic, while being, I think, more common. Emma's love story isn't one of excitement, danger, and searing passions, it's a quiet love that sneaks up her before she realizes it. "I was in the middle before I knew I had begun," as Mr. Darcy would say. But when Emma finally realizes that she loves him, she loves him completely and fully, desperately and whole-heartedly. What a lovely surprised to find out that he loves her already. Yet the sweetness in the story is, to me, the surprise. They both came to the conclusion seperately that they loved each other, while thinking the other to be unattached-even attached to another. I love the humility that both of these proud characters find-they are elated and astonished that their love is mutual.
Last night, I was watching Australia while I was finishing the last several chapters of Emma. Naturally, I couldn't help but compare the two love stories.
Australia couldn't hold a candle.