Thursday, March 23, 2006

Ex Post

I realized that my last comment could be read in far too many ways, which I had not intended.

What I intended was a comparison between the characters of Emma and Elizabeth. Both are heroines in Austen novels, and though their novels share themes, and the characters have some similarities, they do differ from one another heartily. Emma's world is confined in a sense that Elizabeth's is not. She's Pride to Elizabeth's Prejudice. Emma lacks sensitivity, whereas Elizabeth may have too much.

Furthermore, Emma's world is more confined that Elizabeth's, and is driven very much by Emma's own imagination. Clearly, the opening phrase of Emma--namely, that she was "handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition" and "had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her" and the fact that the book is titled after the main character indicates that the book is, at heart, about Emma. Reality often intrudes on her private world, and, as she emotionally matures, she realizes that though she is witty/clever, she is often mistaken about her emotions and the emotions of others.

Where Emma begins with a very personal and particular phrase, Pride and Prejudice begins with a general phrase about society. "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." This reader is left to assume that the opposite is true as well--that, that ALL women are in want of a man with a good fortune too.

The novels have interwoven themes and subthemes, and I can't even begin to realize them all. Certainly both are about how Emma and Elizabeth survive their own personal failings and find true love in the process. But, I've often wondered what Elizabeth and Emma would say to one another about the subject of Love over a nice cup of tea.

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